Archives for posts with tag: Willie King

debbie bond enjoy the rideDebbie Bond going deep into Alabama Soul Blues Heritage on Enjoy The Ride

Debbie Bond shifts into Northern Alabama soul grooves on the semi-autobiographical Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions with increased depth and focus more than ever before with slide guitar, background vocals and deep production reminiscent of what put Muscle Shoals on the map.

`Working with legendary Recording Engineer Billy Lawson [FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound, Wishbone ] as well as Jerry Masters [FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound] and Charles Allen at Big Star Recording Studio, Debbie was able to deliver a timeless slice of Muscle Shoals Soul Blues from the true crossroads of all things true Southern American music.

Debbie Bond’s voice, playing and writing have developed like a fine wine so that with the addition of great horns and background vocals, Debbie continues to cut through everything to keep the focus on her unique style.

Debbie pays homage to Willie King with the best take of “I Am The Blues” that may have ever been recorded while paying tribute to other Alabama Blues mentors Eddie Kirkland and Jody Williams.

The addition of horns and strong background vocals only adds to the dynamics of Debbie Bond’s voice; it’s a revelation of grand proportions.

With guest spots by keyboardist Spooner Oldham, in addition to horn players Brad Guin and Will McFarlane [Bonnie Raitt], Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions proves to be a cohesive career defining work with a sound that pulls Alabama Blues and Alabama Soul into one forged weld molten edge of sound.

To be truthful, soul groove has always been a part of what has made Alabama Blues distinctive; music that warms the soul from the inside out like a good meat and three washed down with some sweet tea.

Debbie pulls together the diversity of sound that has put Alabama on the map and shapes it into a well—defined crown of jewels which justifies her calling card as the Ambassador of Alabama Blues to the world. By adding the Muscle Shoals sound and production, this really creates a new chapter much like when Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman jammed all night on “Hey Jude” and started a whole genre that became Southern Rock.

Enjoy The Ride – The Muscle Shoals Sessions ends with “Train Song” which everybody eventually has to write if they have anything to do with Blues or Rock and Roll. Debbie’s train song means it will be time to hit the road, especially in Europe where things are really taking off.

Enjoy The Ride sets a new bar after the Live album That Thing Called Love which put the spotlight on Debbie Bond on stages around the world. This is her finest work yet and delivers on the Alabama promise of pure bliss.

  • Brad Hardisty [The Nashville Bridge, Performer]

The Big Joe Shelton Live from Mississippi Interview

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

Willie King was really an influential guy, not so much as teaching me his style of music, but he was a good person and he had love in his heart for everyone. That was a life lesson just knowing him in those terms.” – Big Joe Shelton

Big Joe Shelton headed into 2013 off of a nomination in 2012 at The Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee for “Song of the Year” with high expectations on this years’ new release I’d Never Let Her Down.  Straight out of the box on the Rock and Roll Shuffle “Frog’s Hair,” he announces who you got on the turntable, “I’m Big Joe Shelton, come to play your town…”

Indeed, this is a confidant record having released two strong albums over the last four years of original material, Big Joe Shelton seems to be playing his cards close to home with lyrics that are stuff that the average working guy can relate to when times can be a little tough, but you have a strong woman at home that still keeps a little paradise under the dashboard light.

The title track, “I’d Never Let Her Down”  really tells the story of a guy still living the American dream of running around, maybe a musician pulling an all-nighter with a totally supportive woman at home, he easily says “She expects nothin’ of me and I’d never let her down.” In reality, this is what every Artist wishes to have; an understanding partner while they figure it all out instead of nag, nag, nag.

Big Joe has some strong harp playing throughout, but the emphasis is on lyrics that everybody can relate to. These are story songs much like a Junior Brown tune with a Roadhouse Blues feel that don’t necessarily point to any certain neighborhood in Mississippi, but explore any where he wants to go from a huge nod to Reggae on “Stop The Hating” to the Classic Country of “Catfish Ed” as a homage to one of his earliest influences “Catfish” Ed Reed who was a regional Country Artist he got to know back when.

One of the most recent influences in Big Joe’s life as a way to approach ideas was the late great Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King and Big Joe continues to let the world know about Willie through song on “Little Willie” with a Bo Diddley beat and a call and response dead on of Johnny Otis, “ Willie and The Hand Jive” of all things, a homage of the tales Willie King shared about how he started playing music.

There are change-ups all over the place from “Riding With The Wind” which evokes The Doors “Riders On The Storm” played out like Santana jamming “Black Magic Woman” all the way to strange coincidences like “Pity Party” following the same pattern as Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers’ track “Hospital” played more as a lounge act on Saturday Night Live instead of The Velvet Underground at a Boston College frat party.

Big Joe Shelton crossed paths with Big Joe Williams early on and he carries the torch of that bigger than life blues persona of people like the aforementioned Big Joe Williams and another Black Prairie alumni Howlin’ Wolf while throwing in a little Dr. John and Junior Brown storytelling which may have come through from the early Country influences of “Catfish” Ed Reed on the importance of telling a great story or spin a tale that hits home.

big joe shelton albumThe recording is superb having been recorded close to home in Starkville, Mississippi and Mastered at the Ardent Studios complex known for all the ZZ Top albums up to Eliminator as well as Led Zeppelin 3 and the Big Star era Alex Chilton material by Larry Nix Mastering which now houses the original fully restored Neumann lathe that was used by Stax for cutting vinyl.

Big Joe Shelton and The Black Prairie Ambassadors caught up with The Nashville Bridge at the end of a very busy October. He puts on one hell of a show.  In fact, there is enough Rock & Roll Roadhouse Blues to keep a bikers rally in the Black Hills rollin’ along and he tends to wear biker influenced Lansky’s of Memphis [clothier to the King, Elvis] silk shirts while blowing some serious “Mississippi Sax” that would make any Rolling Stones “Midnight Rambler” happy.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: I know you live down in the Black Prairie area of Mississippi. That’s not something I am familiar with. I am a little bit after seeing you live at The Bukka White Festival in Aberdeen. Did you grow up there?

 Big Joe Shelton: Yes, the Black Prairie lays hard up against the Alabama line a little north of Midway down the state. The Black Prairies are the prehistoric  flood plains of the Tombigbee river  that starts up in the Northeast corner of the state towards Alabama and runs midway down the state where  it then crosses over into Alabama. It is named the Black Prairies because of the dark, rich soil deposited by the flooding river thousands of years ago.

TNB: Did you say that was the area Howlin’ Wolf was from?

BJS: Yes, some of our Blues icons from this area are Howlin’ Wolf who was born up in Clay County Mississippi, it’s called White Station, a little community out there and that was his birthplace. I think he lived there till about eleven years old or so then he jumped the train and went over to the Delta to find his Aunt over there and lived with them. Also, about 20 miles south of that is where Big Joe Williams lived across the Mississippi and that was in Lowndes County Mississippi which was the county where I was born in and I was fortunate enough to see Big Joe and get to know him a little bit back in the early 70’s when he quit his ramblin’ around and set down in Crawford. I kind of sought him out. I was kind of like his local Road Manager maybe book him a gig here and there or take him to some joints and set his stuff up for him; just kind of being in his presence, learning at the feet of a Master in Blues, Man. It was not like he taught me. He has a particular kind of music, but it was just kind of like just being in the presence of a great Blues Artist. Also, Bukka White was from up around Houston, Mississippi and he was another one of our famous blues guys from this area. A more contemporary Artist would be Mr. Willie King. I think you are familiar with him through some friends of ours. Willie was from out here in Noxubee County out where I now live. I live in Macon, Mississippi which is about 30 miles south of Columbus and Macon is a very agricultural area. Willie was born here and then he moved right across the Alabama state line to Old Memphis, Alabama.

TNB: I was wondering because I knew he was known as an Alabama Blues man – “The Sweet Potato Man”, but I didn’t know if he born in Alabama or not, so, that kind of clarifies things for me.

BJS: Yeah, he probably never lived more than five or six miles from the state line so he didn’t travel very far when he decided to settle down. A matter of fact, on the Mississippi Blues markers, he is on the one down here in Macon.  You are familiar with those markers, I’m sure.

TNB: I’ll have to catch that one when I am over there.

BJS: Yeah, Willie is on it. It has quite a few names on it, Eddy Clearwater, Carrie Bell and Willie were the three main honorees, plus, it mentions some more obscure artists from this area too.

TNB: I got a real kick out of you writing a song about Willie King. I don’t know if Debbie Bond [band member of late great Willie king’s band] knows about the song. I tried telling her about that when I received an email from her.

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: I was a young’un when I was hanging with Big Joe Williams, but with Willie I was more of a…I would like to think, a peer to some extent and his influence  on me was more about striving to be a better man with love and compassion in my heart.

TNB: I hope people pick up the fact that that song is about Willie King. Obviously, when you do it “Live” you let people know about that.

BJS: Right. My 2008 release is a song titled Black Prairie Blues and and in that song I sing about blues artists from the Black Prairie;  Willie, Bukka White,  Howlin’ Wolf and Big Joe [Williams] and in the last verse I say “ on a Sunday night and Willie King is playin’ all night long.” I guess that they would know what that was about.  That was like a real Prairie theme. I also pay homage to Wille by including songs dealing with social consciousness. He inspired me to speak up about social injustice.

TNB: That is very cool. I could tell in your album, you are actually kind of playing all of your influences. It’s not something where you can make it definitive where this is “Hill Country” because there is “boogie” there is “Rock & Roll” there is, you know “Little Willie” reminds of “Willie & The Hand Jive,” kind of the same beat and stuff.

BJS: Yeah, it’s based on like a Bo Diddley beat kind of a thing too. The way the percussion and all goes on there and then it morphs kind of into a Rock kind of thing it then kind of goes back and forth. I just kind of take all my influences and things and see what I can come up with. I like to refer to my music as “Being rooted in the past but conceived in the present. “ You know, keeping it fresh and current. You know, the themes of it are current and maybe kind of push the envelope a little bit. I love traditional blues with all my heart, but if that were all we were doing then it would be a dying art, I believe.

TNB: I would say that in your lyrics you tell a lot of stories and rather than saying a lot of blues particular phrasing like four lines that are being repeated over and over through the song, you are telling a story kind of like a traditional Country song a lot of the time. It reminds me a little of Junior Brown’s writing because sometimes you are a little tongue in cheek. Is that a good comparison?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: That is a good comparison.  That is a good analogy. I do try to tell stories. It’s like a good fish story. You never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Also, like a lot of things, humor will grab people’s attention pretty quickly too and sometimes when you are on a touch y subject or something with a little humor injected you can turn it that way or it will cause people to accept it more or listen to it a little more than if you were just trying to ram something down their throat. The storytelling; that is what I enjoy and almost all of my music is inspired by the people and the culture and the music of the Black Prairie that I have known all my life and interacted with, you know things, I have gone to bar-b-cues and fish fries, chitlin’ cookings and just whatever happens to be goin’ on in this area since I was a kid. But, also by the same token, I grew up like a lot of baby boomers grew up, listening to radio and whatever was popular at the time. A lot of that music back in the 50’s and 60’s was inspired by blues during that time. I remember riding my bicycle to hear Roy Orbison at the local Women’s College when I was back in third grade in ’59 or so. So, I was always drawn to musicians and such. My first remembrance of hearing blues was when I was in Pre-School on the downtown streets of Columbus and there was a black guy that played harmonica outside the “Five & Dime” store and I can remember walking by with my parents on many occasions and seeing him out there. I didn’t realize it was the blues, but he was playing the harmonica and whatever it was that he was playing. It got my attention in the following years when I grew older and learned a little about music and started adding my own taste. I kind of realized that I was living here in the midst of something special that a lot of the music I was listening to on the radio had roots in. That kind of led me to seek out Big Joe, when I realized that Big Joe Williams lived in Crawford, just about an hour away. I think he was playing somewhere and I remembered I was familiar with that name from somewhere and then I realized how actually famous and influential he was in the blues world. I was fortunate to be born in this area, but I was also aware enough to seek out and investigate what it had to offer. 

TNB: It sounds like you grew up around blues and appreciating blues but did you start out playing “Rock & Roll?” You play Sax as well, that is what I have seen on the web.

BJS: No, actually “Mississippi Saxophone” is what I play, that is what we call a harmonica down here. I started out singing at church functions and school like grade school plays and stuff and I always got in grade school plays. A lot of times, you get lead parts and you get to sing. In Junior High School, I got into sports and I thought, “cool,” you know? So, I kind of put it behind me through High School.  I played a little guitar, but not much to speak of and I had a lot of friends that were in bands during that time and then out of High School and all. When I got to College, I started trying to learn how to play music and investigate more and that is when I started getting more interest in it, but it was almost like a serious hobby kind of thing. I was more of a harmonica player and I am barely a guitar player and it was hard especially, back in that day unless you were a pure bluesman and there weren’t many around that I knew of, you know, my age, contemporary people of my age. It was hard for them to take you on as a band member as a harmonica player so it was, I guess, I really started kind of writing songs for real   probably in the mid to late 70’s when I moved outside of Chicago when I was going to college.

TNB: So you were going to school in Chicago, did you start writing blues when you first started writing?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS:  My earliest songwriting influence was on the song “Catfish Ed” and Ed Reed was a local Country musician and I used to gravitate toward him and in some point in time I learned that a lot of the songs he was singing were original songs and it dawned on me that, you know, even to my young untrained ear they sounded as good of songs as any Jimmy Reed or Hank Williams song in the world and could make your hair stand on end, but he was also a creative artist and that kind of influenced me to start writing songs. About the mid ‘70’s or so, moving up to Chicago and in that area I started putting some lyrics together and I had a little bit of life experience under my belt and I just kind of started piddling with it and jotting things down and re-working them so one thing lead to another and I realized I could string a few words together. Another famous songwriter that is from Vernon, Alabama that is just right across the state line named Dan Penn was a big influence. Dan is a couple years older than me, but I met him years ago.  He used to come over here when he was a younger man to Columbus and there used to be a lot of clubs.

Lowndes County Mississippi was the only “Wet” county for a hundred mile radius and Dan used to come over here and hang with some of the older guys that I knew. So I was aware of his success when he started producing and writing some songs up at Stax and Muscle Shoals and that had an impact on my songwriting sensibilities as well. I am also a visual artist and have always recognized my creativity and been willing  and been willing to pursue it in where ever it led.

TNB: I think that helps you keep control of your career and what you are shooting for. What I see, is that your music can cross genres like Classic Country with what you are doing, you are writing “average guy” kind of lyrics. A guy who is happily married, but gets kind of feisty now and then. I mean your stories are about being appreciative of a good woman, things like that. It’s like what Country used to be. It was guy’s music, listened to by truck drivers, working guys…

BJS: This new record especially has a little more of that, especially with the new “Catfish Ed” song. It has a little more of a feel to that, more storytelling. Some of my earlier work was more “Whiskey and Women” kind of thing.  More of your classic blues canon of subject, I guess you would say, but, then again, I would also try to put humor in a lot of those things and then the older I get, as my last record was called The Older I Get The Better I Was , but, the older I get I grow more appreciative of what life has provided me and the place I am now in life, having someone that I can totally trust and rely on and understands me and encourages me to be the person that I am. That is invaluable to an Artist. Some Artists muses are negative and they thrive on, well, not thrive, but they have influences from maybe not happy situations. I have been there and done that too and have done music from that perspective and I probably will in the future I’m sure.  It’s nice to have such a positive kind of a thing, to come at it from that side too. You know, blues is not all about sorrow and such. There is a way of coping in life through blues too.

TNB: Very therapeutic in some respects.

BJS: Yeah, celebrating good things just as well as bad. I really do believe in my heart that is the way it works for me, to see all sides of it. One thing is if you just look at it from one view point it is going to narrow your scope and your options and the more receptive whatever the idea is surrounding you in your mind, it offers you more opportunities and more avenues kind of songs and music and such.

TNB: Any shows coming up?

BJS: Actually, October was the last big month. I have a few private things coming up, a benefit or two, but, nothing at the moment. As a matter of fact, you might want to put that I am starting to put my early spring schedule together if they would like to contact me.

 TNB: I guess “Frog’s Hair” [first track on new album] is some kind of traditional thing down there?

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

photo courtesy Big Joe Shelton

BJS: It’s like it’s as scarce as chicken’s feet. You know there is no such thing as chicken feet, but I guess it would be pretty slick to come across a frog with hair. It’s the same kind of thing.

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashvllle, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 027 smallDebbie Bond was the guest last Monday night on WRFN Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show recorded in a huge army tent at Omega Studio high on the top of a peak at an undisclosed location in the nearby Nashville wilderness.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 030 smalldebbie bond mando blues 04082013 028 smallA fantastic crew with Tony Gerber , known for his electronic music compositions, acting as host for the night, went to work on soundcheck with Debbie and her band featuring Rick Asherson on keyboards and Dave Crenshaw on drums getting a much bigger than it looks sound going into the green spec recording layout.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 014 smallOmega has developed a layout for power using not much more than six car batteries, car stereo amplifiers and LED lighting to run at a deceptively low 1600 watts with state of the art recording as can be seen by linking to the net recordings of the summit.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 023 smallDebbie brought much more than just blues experience playing with Willie King and Johnny Shines for almost thirty years in Alabama displaying soulful grooves with a nod to Muscle Shoals, Alabama writers like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In this case, the western Alabama juke joint grooves may be at the heart, but, this was soulful blues.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 020 smallDebbie brought three new songs that will be featured on her next album, “Find A Way,” That Thing Called Love” and “Steady Rolling Man,” that fit right in with “I like It Like That” from her days with Willie King as well as some songs from her most current release Hearts Are Wild with a stand-out version of the slow ballad blues of “Falling.”

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 037 smallNashville session saxophonist Tom Pallardy sat in later in the set after a successful collaborative prior night set at The Nashville Jazz and Blues Awards at Bourbon Street in Printers Alley.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 035 smallHost Tony Gerber paid tribute to female blues artists with his in-between tracks that also featured some rare Richie Havens and alternative version material.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 010 smallMando Blues is an esoteric record store workers dream where true collectors and music geeks get to hear all things blues and related materials. They all get a little spotlight. There may be no show quite like this in the world.

An invited group of about 10-12 people got to sit-in on the live recording happening that fit a BBC type production with high production values and plenty of meat in the interview.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 013 smallTony asked the right questions that will give any listener the feeling they knew where Debbie came from and what she is about after listening to the two hour show.

Although there are provided links to watch video of each one of the songs, it is well worth the price of free admission to listen to the entire show to get the interview segments as well as Rick’s “Monty Python meets Muscle Shoals” sense of humor.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 007 smallDebbie is a native of California, but, her time growing up was spent in England and Europe while Rick’s roots are Londontown. Debbie and Rick almost crossed paths in College back in England, but, never actually met until Alabama Bluesman, Willie “Sweet Potato Man” King suggested they get to know one another in Western Alabama.

Roy Wooten aka “Futureman” stopped by to listen in and dug the Alabama soul groove coming out of the eventual four piece band with Rick sometimes playing the utility guy playing bass with one hand on the Nord keyboard and blues harp with the other hand and singing back – up vocals. If he had one more arm, they probably could have a full horn section.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 029 smallTom Pallardy’s sax fit right into the song as if he had been playing with Debbie for years but, in reality he had not heard much of the material. Dave Crenshaw brought down the volume on the drum kit to match the production set up without losing any of the grooves, in fact, it brought out the true dynamics of the songs.

Debbie was so happy with the production and final mix of the material that she has already talked about further recording collaboration with the Omega team.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 039 smallIt can be said, that there is probably know recording studio like it in the world, with its MASH style tent set up and being at the mountain peak as well as a crew with ears straight out of a JBL lab anechoic chamber. They know what they are doing and they love what they are producing.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 016 smallWhile production was going on, some of the staff was busy cooking a meal fit for a king in a wood burning cast iron stove in cast iron pots.  The band and crew were treated to Venison Stew, fresh picked greens and chicken after the final wrap.

debbie bond mando blues 04082013 008 small–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

all photos (c) Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond, photo - Thomas Z'Graggen

Debbie Bond, photo – Thomas Z’Graggen

“The last thing Willie King said to me was, “Keep on pushing Debbie!” – Debbie Bond

Debbie Bond will be playing for the first time tonight in Nashville at The Nashville Blues and Jazz Awards  that begins at 4PM with a $10 door at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar and is presented by The Marion James Musicians Aid Society to benefit the heritage musicians that lived and worked around the Jefferson Street community in the R&B heyday from about 1950 through the mid-70’s.

debbie bond album coverDebbie’s most recent album Hearts Are Wild got a thumbs up from the Nashville Blues Society last year after its release. Hearts Are Wild is Debbie’s second solo album and her first since Willie King passed away in 2008.

Debbie, as well as her husband Rick had been a part of Willie King’s band for several years playing in and around Alabama as well as touring Europe.

Debbie Bond has also spent several years developing The Alabama Blues Project that educates young and not so young children about blues music and gives them the opportunity to develop the skills to play blues music.

Debbie feels that Alabama has never received the recognition that it deserves in relation to the development of Blues and American music. Essentially, Alabama really is joined at the hip with Mississippi and there was a lot of cross-state-lines intermingling goings on from the very beginning.

Brad Hardisty/ The Nashville Bridge: How long have you been living and playing the Blues in Alabama?

Debbie Bond:  Thirty years. I actually came here in 1979.

TNB: Was it originally to work with Johnny Shines?

Debbie Bond, photo - Robert Sutton

Debbie Bond, photo – Robert Sutton

DB: It wasn’t.  It was just to visit some friends and I was kind of going through some heartache stuff in England and I…uh…originally it was just to come for the summer to get away. But, one thing lead to another and well… included hooking up with Johnny Shines (A contemporary of Robert Johnson).

TNB: You were playing guitar at the time?

DB: Yeah, I was playing guitar. I really started off playing acoustic guitar. I was playing folk songs and I love the blues. I was in a band in England when I was in College in ’75 through 1978 and we played that music in Brighton, England. So, when I came here, you know, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  I had a lot of prejudices about Alabama and Alabama culture and the south.  I had my mind blown by the music and the food and the southern culture.  I was humbled. I was brought to my knees. I ended up staying.

TNB: I was kind of the same way. I thought the south would be a certain way and it was totally different than I figured.  So, the last project that you were in was a group before you went solo and that was playing with Willie King, right?

Debbie Bond onstage with Willie King

Debbie Bond onstage with Willie King

DB: Yeah, the last band and probably the most serious musical situation that I was in was with Willie King for the last seven years of his life. I toured and recorded with him. Rick, my husband is British and before I married him he had hooked up with Willie and Willie introduced me to Rick. Willie was the best man at my wedding and we married at Freedom Creek and so I have Willie to thank for that big time besides the musical experience and so that was a really big blues experience in my life.

TNB: Did Willie meet Rick overseas?

DB: No, he met Rick here. This is a crazy story but Rick was in Clarksdale, Mississippi and went into Jim O’Neal’s little shop downtown and asked where there was he could hear some blues tonight and they said, “Well, there’s no blues here.” But, because of the connection to Jim O’Neal, a lady who ran the record store and also sold kind of voodoo stuff, said, “There is the Freedom Creek festival over in Alabama tonight.” Rick actually drove all the way to Pickens County, Alabama, which was four and a half hours away. He ran into somebody who didn’t know where The Freedom Creek Festival was and sent him all the way to Tuscaloosa which was another hour out of the way. Rick happened to see my notice and directions in the local record store, Oz Records in Tuscaloosa, then drove all the way back, I mean, then ended up driving into the Festival. His mind was blown. He ended up…Willie said. “Stay.” Rick stayed with Willie camping out there and staying in his trailer and went on the road with Willie and toured just like that. Rick plays harmonica and keyboards.

TNB: What year was that?

DB: That was in 2002 and then we met. I think we went on one date then moved in together and then we got married and Willie was our best man. We married on Freedom Creek and had our wedding ceremony there and then had our party at the local juke joint.

TNB: So, in 2008 you started working on Hearts Are Wild?

Debbie Bond, photo - Robin McDonald

Debbie Bond, photo – Robin McDonald

DB: Yeah, I just started focusing on my own music. I was running the Alabama Blues Project. I founded the Alabama Blues Project and I really just wanted to do my own thing for a change.  The last thing Willie King said to me was, “Keep on pushing Debbie!” I just really wanted to do my own music. So, I kind of got the Blues Project on its own feet. We still do things with the Blues Project, but, we just tried to focus on my own music and eventually we ended up putting out Hearts Are Wild. I think our official release date was 2012.

TNB: Have you toured overseas since the release date?

DB: Yeah, we played over in the Tarragona Blues Festival and also we played in England and France actually. When it first came out we played a show in France and also at a radio station then a show in England. The Tarragona Blues Festival is in Spain.  We are actually going back to play the festival again in November. I’ve written a song called “Tarragona Blues.”

TNB: So, that is where you are establishing your crowd?

DB: Well, it just so happens, you know how things kind of fall into place. I don’t have a booking agent, so, I am just kind of doing things myself as they come along through Facebook really. Facebook has been really great for me. So, it just so happened that we were going to be in Spain and we were going to be in Europe and The Tarragona Festival just fell into place. I mean it was so synchronistic on the only dates we could possibly do it. So, we did it and they really loved the show. They loved us and are having us back. We are definitely building an audience there and I’m hoping I can release the song, “Tarragona Blues” which I wrote the night before the festival and played at the festival. They really enjoyed it. I want to record it and release it in Spain as a single.

TNB: Are they getting into buying vinyl in Europe like we are in the States?

DB: I don’t know.The fact of the matter is times are hard in Spain like they are in other parts of Europe. Maybe not as bad as Greece, but, it still is hard times. So, I don’t know the answer to that.

TNB: As far as releases. Are they buying songs on the web or do they want product?

DB: I find most people are buying CD’s at shows. You know the web is great for promoting, but, I haven’t found that with my audience. My audience seems to like the real CD.

TNB: Yeah, it seems like here in the states we have a lot of hardcore vinyl collectors now.

DB: I’m hearing that.  If I could get just a little bit more on the map and more successful, I would definitely consider putting out a vinyl recording.

TNB: Yeah, it seems like even in limited runs a lot of bands are doing it here in Nashville because we have United Record Pressing. They used to press all of Motown. They have a Motown Suite upstairs in the plant. They are pressing a big portion of what is being done right now.

DB: That’s good to know. I know there is a way to go back to vinyl and I have all my records and we do listen to our records on our record player.

TNB: I’m actually buying more vinyl than I do CD’s right now.

DB: I am hearing that from the record stores. I am going to definitely take that into consideration. But, at this stage in the game I just think it’s so affordable to do CD’s.

TNB: Okay, you have never played Nashville before. Have you played in Tennessee before, maybe, Memphis?

DB: I have not played in Memphis.

TNB: So, this is your first gig in Tennessee.

DB: Yeah it is.

TNB: You are also going to be playing on the Mando Blues Radio Show on Monday.

DB: I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping you can make it.

TNB: What are you looking forward to the most about being in Nashville?

Debbie Bond, Rick on keys, photo - Robin McDonald

Debbie Bond, Rick on keys, photo – Robin McDonald

DB: I feel like it’s an adventure. I have great sympathy for Nashville because I think it is kind of like Alabama. People don’t think of the blues when they think of Nashville and the fact that there is this really cool blues culture is exciting to me. I fell like it is an honor to be part of the line-up at The Nashville Blues and Jazz Awards that includes Marion James and all these veteran blues musicians. I’m really thankful and excited to be part of it.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN