Calgary Bluesfest (2011)
“Fans of traditional electric blues, especially of the Dallas, Texas, variety should get hold of both CDs from this band as soon as possible. This album (Words Are Like Bullets) is played in true ensemble fashion, sounding better and better with each listen. It works its way into your soul like all good blues should – nice and deep. Steve Gerard is a fine guitar player possessing good tone and great taste. Dave Bailey is a blues-singer's blues singer; the man has a voice made for singing this music. The keyboard work of Shinetop Jr. is an (almost) hidden weapon here; listen closely so you hear everything he plays, especially while he is comping. Throw in a rock-solid rhythm section, then spice it up with some special guests and you've got a project to be proud of. “ -- Lee Howland, aka, East Side Slim, a St. Louis-based music reviewer.
Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires will release their third CD this summer, this time with Jackson, Mississippi’s 71-years-young blues singer James “Rock” Gray”. Gray, a contemporary and good friend of legendary Jackson singer, drummer and harmonica man, Sam Myers (Anson Funderburgh) is now a permanent member of The National Debonaires. He’ll be featured along with the great Kansas City-based singer Dave “Elmo” Bailey.
“James and Mo pack a vocal punch that is really hard to beat,” says Steve Gerard. “I love singers and these two are some of the best blues singers that can be found working today. Our shows have this tremendous variety – you can dance, cry, drink, flirt, cheat and still make it home with a smile on your face.”
The National Debonaires first two CDs, New Sounds from Kansas City and Words Are Like Bullets on the SoundGate and Blue Edge labels, have delved into a variety of blues styles, leaning on jump and traditional style shuffles. The new CD, Voodoo Workn’, features three stunning original songs with lyrics by James and music by the band.
“The material on Voodoo is so cool. James has this southern gospel, blues, soul sound with a side helping of country tinge that will raise the hair on your arms. Preston Hubbard (Roomful of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds), who plays bass on Voodoo, described the sessions in Oxford, Mississippi, as “historic”.
Mike “Shinetop Jr.” Sedovic will play piano and B-3 organ. Shine has been a member of The National Debonaires since the first recording. He recently performed with Trampled Under Foot on the Blues Cruise tour and has performed with many national acts passing through his hometown of Kansas City.
Dwight Ross Jr., another Jackson native and drummer on both Words and Voodoo will be on the Calgary show. Dwight is frequently the house drummer at the famous Monday Blues Party at Jackson’s Hal & Mal’s club. He played in Katie Webster’s band in his early career.
Chris Brzezicki, from Edmonton, will play bass on the Calgary show. “I met Chris when I was the second guitarist in Sean Carney’s band,” says Gerard. In addition, Calgary’s Greg “Junior” Demchuck and very good friend will play harmonica and some guitar for the Calgary show. Greg is featured on two tracks on Words and contributes some fantastic harmonica on the Voodoo CD. Mike Clark, one of Canada’s best known and best tenor sax players will be in the horn section. Mike is featured on the first two CDs.
Gerard, who has shared stages with Albert Collins, Hubert Sumlin, Anson Funderburgh and Little Charlie and The Night Cats, is proud of The National Debonaires family.
“I like to collaborate when working on a CD project. Music is good that way. Sax man Doug “Mr. Low” James and I have been working on horn section parts for Voodoo in between Doug being on the road with Jimmie Vaughan. It’s a blast and very humbling to work with all these guys.
“And James is the newest member of the family. He and I like to drive around Jackson. He took me to an old club (now closed) where he used to sing with Elmo James back in the 60s. The line is very strong from then to what we do now. The guy is so humble. You can learn a lot from people like James,” says Gerard.