Chris Ruest & Lurrie Bell

Agenda

Artist: 
Chris Ruest & Lurrie Bell
Date: 
19/04/2020
Time: 
14h30
Venue: 
Zaal Thijssen
Place: 
Vlierden

Born in 1958, the son of famed blues harmonica player Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell picked up his father’s guitar at age of five and taught himself to play. He was clearly gifted. In addition, he grew up with many of the Chicago blues legends around him. Eddie Taylor, Big Walter Horton, Eddie C. Campbell, Eddie Clearwater, Lovie Lee, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins and many more were frequent visitors to his house. They all helped to shape and school him in the blues, but none as much as his father’s long-time employer Muddy Waters.

At seven years old, Bell left Chicago to live in Mississippi and Alabama with his grandparents. During this time he played mostly in the church, immersing himself in the passionate expressiveness of the gospel tradition. At fourteen he moved back to Chicago and continued to play in church as well as forming his first blues band while attending high school.

By seventeen Lurrie Bell was playing on stage with Willie Dixon. In 1977 he was a founding member of The Sons of Blues with Freddie Dixon (son of Willie) and Billy Branch. The band recorded three standout tracks for Alligator Records’ Grammy nominated Living Chicago Blues series. In 1978 Bell joined Koko Taylor’s band and stayed for several years, honing his chops and learning the ropes of being a traveling musician. He continued to work with his dad as well, recording the 1984 Rooster Blues album Son Of a Gun and several other titles for UK’s JSP Records. Not only was Bell recognized as an exceptionally talented guitarist and musician, his knowledge of different blues styles, his soulfulness and his musical maturity delivered write-ups in publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Battling and defeating a series of personal demons kept him out of the studio and off the road for a long spell in the late 1980’s, but Bell persevered and re-surfaced in the mid-1990’s with a succession of four highly acclaimed records for Chicago’s Delmark label.

Since the onset of the new millennium, Bell’s profile has been steadily rising. 2002 saw the release of the CD Cutting Heads and in 2004 Alligator Records released Second Nature an acoustic duet record with his father Carey Bell that was nominated for a WC Handy Award Acoustic Record of the Year by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

In 2007 Bell started his own label Aria B.G. Records and released Let’s Talk About Love, which has been called his most accomplished, deeply heartfelt album yet. On the strength of this record, he was voted Most Outstanding Guitar Player in the 2007 Living Blues Magazine’s Critic’s Poll, and in 2008 and 2012 he was named the magazine’s Male Blues Artist of the Year. Since 2007 he has received multiple Blues Music Award nominations as Best Guitarist and Best Traditional Male Blues Artist by the Blues Foundation.

2009 found him pairing up with Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch on the recording Chicago Blues: A Living History which garnered him his first official Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Recording. In 2011 a follow-up was released; Chicago Blues: A Living History (The Revolution Continues) featuring Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

And in 2012 came the arrival of his second CD on Aria BG Records The Devil Ain’t Got No Music, a collection of acoustic blues and gospel songs that recollect the music he often played with his dad and at church in Mississippi and Alabama as a child. In January 2013 The Devil Ain’t Got No Music was honored with the Prix du Blues award from the prestigious French L’Academie du Jazz for the Best Blues Recording of 2012 and the title song (written by producer Matthew Skoller) received a nomination from the Blues Foundation for song of the year.

In 2013 Bell re-signed with Delmark and enlisted famed Chicago producer Dick Shurman to make the record Blues in My Soul. For this project he wanted to get back to the solid foundation of Chicago-styled traditional guitar blues. Blues in my Soul features three new Lurrie Bell originals plus songs by Little Walter, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Rogers, and Big Bill Broonzy and others. In 2016 Bell returned to studio with Dick Shurman for his next Delmark CD “Can’t Shake This Feeling.”

At last count Lurrie Bell has now appeared on over 50+ recordings either as leader or featured sideman. Lurrie Bell’s elegant and intense guitar playing and passionate vocals have made him a favorite at clubs and festivals around the world and have earned him a reputation as one of the “leading lights” in the future of the blues.

Lurrie Bell Website: www.lurrie.com

 

Chris Ruest 

 

If you haven’t been paying attention to his career, this is the short version of what you need to know: Chris Ruest is the real thing. The New Englander has been a resident of Texas for well over a decade. Already a serious student and lover of traditional blues and blues-oriented jazz artists, the singer-guitarist came up through Brian “Hash Brown” Calway’s band (justly regarded as the finishing school of choice for aspiring Dallas blues musicians), and has worked with many of the Lone Star State’s most important talents, including the great Ray Sharpe (“Linda Lu”).

Chris Ruest belongs to the impressive class of serious Texas blues guitarists, a group that includes Johnny Moeller, Shawn Pittman, and Nick Curran. While the others may have wider name recognition, Ruest has quietly built a reputation of excellence that is spreading beyond his Austin home base. A veteran with nearly two decades’ experience on the bandstand, Ruest’s passion for classic blues (jump, Chicago, and Gulf Coast) and roots rock forms comes through in an original voice that combines immediacy and authenticity. Dead-on songwriting and savvy selection of covers provide a platform for his unaffected, honest vocals and tough guitar.

The Connecticut native’s interest in guitar was encouraged by his father and his uncle, jazz musician Louis Mastrobattisto. Ruest began taking lessons at 15, hoping, rather typically, to emulate blues-based rock guitarists Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, but soon discovered the artists who inspired them. Gradually his core group of touchstone artists expanded to include the likes of Hubert Sumlin, Pee Wee Crayton, Robert Nighthawk, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Pat Hare, Eddie Taylor, Freddie King, Magic Sam, Robert Lockwood, Luther Tucker, T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, Tiny Grimes, and many others. After playing around Connecticut between the ages of 17 and 25, Ruest resolved to make music his main priority, gave up his factory job, and relocated to Texas in 1999.

Ruest’s band has opened for Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnny Winter,  Little Charlie and the Nightcatsand many more. 2004 brought Ruest’s recording debut as a solo artist, Too Many Problems, a spirited collection that captured crisp performances in glorious, true-to-vintage sound. The notable players who appeared on that disc, including Preston Hubbard, Matt Farrell, and “Kaz” Kazanoff in addition to Curran and Hash Brown, offer testimony to the respect Ruest commands among his colleagues. Now expanding his performance schedule to a wider circuit that includes California, Spain, Sweden, France, Costa Rica, MO, CT, Mass, RI, VT, ME, NH, TN, TX, Houston, Gruene,Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, and club and festival dates outside Texas, Ruest recorded a follow-up CD  No 2nd Chances a 3rd release Live at Shakespeares with Ronnie James and Jd Dtullio, and has just completed 2 more albums on joint effort with piano legend Gene Taylor titled Too Late Now (available july 21 on El Toro Records Spain) and another album recorded for Enviken Records of Sweden released by early 2018!

In 1999, Chris Ruest moved from the northeastern United States to Texas, where he soon began working with the top talent in Dallas and Austin, and cultivated solid connections to Texas blues and rock and roll history through friendships with Sam Myers and Ray Sharpe. Since 2005, the Texas-based artist has released three solo CDs, featuring performers including Hash Brown, Nick Curran, Preston Hubbard, Ronnie James, and Kaz Kazanoff. Those albums, and his contributions to the all-star group Texas Cannonballs, reveal one of the strongest, most original voices in contemporary blues and roots rock. In 2017, Ruest recorded the impressively real and raw blues project It’s Too Late Now, with a trio rounded out by the storied Gene Taylor on piano and Brian Fahey (The Paladins) on drums.

Been Gone Too Long is Chris Ruest’s first truly international project. The new album taps into the rich network of connections the guitarist-singer-songwriter developed during his many tours of Europe, where he has played frequently as a headliner, with the Cannonballs, and as part of a revue paying tribute to the late Gary Primich. Three years ago, Enviken Records’ owner Patrik Staffansson attended one of Ruest’s shows in the company of American country-rockabilly songstress Marti Brom and her Swedish touring band. Ruest remembers that Staffansson “asked me if I’d be interested in playing on a few Marti Brom tracks” at his studio. During that session, Staffansson saw potential in cutting a record with Ruest.

 Been Gone Too Long extends Ruest’s winning formula for making outstanding blues records: Guitar playing that ranges from savage to sophisticated, honest vocals, and a lockstep connection with the band that gives the set power, finesse, and a fine-tuned dynamic range. The essence of blues tradition past, present, and future, is in good hands with Chris Ruest.

“My goal is to play everywhere and keep playin’.”

Like the rest of the program, these five cds let the band work out on touchstone tunes that still sound fresh, owing to their relative scarcity in the playlists of contemporary bands, and demonstrate Ruest’s control of the essential themes of real blues guitar. His playing, sometimes deliberate, frequently savage, is always intense, carrying the threat of violence that was imminent in the approach of Curran, or Pat Hare. Paired with his outstanding rhythm section, Ruest–one of the toughest players anywhere–is on fire.