If you had turned on your radio in the early 1950s, you would hear jumped up rhythm and blues, the raw Delta country sound and the music that came to be called ‘rockabilly’ a mix of white country and R & B. This was the primitive beginnings of rock and roll and this music was for dancing! When you hear this band, you won’t sit still!
Juke Joint 5 puts all of the elements together. A bluesy, soulful, urban hip sound where the saxophone and electric guitar are raucous and raw and the bass player’s volume is turned all the way up while the drummer is working that famous backbeat.
Examiner spoke with Dick “The Poet” Lourie, sax player for the band.
Examiner: How did we come together to create the Juke Joint 5?
Lourie: “The sax player in a blues band is usually the last one hired and the first one fired, simply because what you absolutely need is guitar, bass, and drums, and you can get away with no more than that. In 2007, I decided I needed to get out of that role: to have my own band and to play the kind of blues that means the most to me. I put a note on Craig’s List about starting a blues band.
Then I saw there was, coincidentally, a Craig’s List note from a vocalist, Gretchen Bostrom, expressing the same wish. We had coffee, talked, went to a Sunday Johnny D’s jam session together, where we met a bass player, Jason Adams. And there we were. We recruited drummers and guitar players, suffering our own version of the Spinal Tap syndrome for years, while we continued to build the band.
Finally, within the last two or three years, we have created a reliably solid lineup, as we began playing out more and more; in 2013 we averaged more than one gig a week, and this year looks to be even more busy.”
Examiner: Who are the members of the band?
Lourie: “Drummer Noah Teshu (who’s really a multi-instrumentalist) came to us out of Berklee College of Music. He told me one reason he wanted to join the band was that he and I are separated by exactly fifty years (but that’s another story).
I had done many projects over the years with my friend Silvertone Steve, a fantastic slide guitarist—a fixture on the Boston blues scene, and veteran of the JB Hutto band, among other accomplishments. I had always always wished Steve could be in the band, and a couple of years ago, it was the right time. He was between busy seasons and he really wanted to play the kind of music the JJ5 puts out.
Finally, when Jason got very busy with his other gig (the fabulous Dan Lawson band) we needed a bass player. We were able to snag John Bunszell, just moved back to town from New Hampshire, a guy who has played with the Matt Stubbs Trio and practically anyone else you could think of.
So that’s us, and we appreciate the many friends we’ve gained who come out to listen and dance.”
Examiner: Tell us about the music that you play?
Lourie: “If you had turned on your radio in the early 1950s, you could have heard a wild and energetic mix of what later came to be called “roots” music: jumped-up urban rhythm and blues; the raw Delta country sound just recently getting electrified in Chicago; the music that came to be called “rockabilly” (an explosive mix of white country and black R&B), and the primitive beginnings of rock and roll—all on the same station.
At that historic moment, many elements were coalescing to create a new identity for the blues: The vocalists were by turns bluesy, soulful, and in your face; sometimes urban and hip, sometimes tough and country. The saxophone and the electric guitar were fighting it out for the title of “Most Energetic, Noisy, Raucous, and Raw.” The bass player was discovering how plugging in and turning up the volume could deliver more pop and punch. And the drummer was happily bashing away and working that famous backbeat. Above all, it was music for dancing.
All that pretty well describes the kind of “roots” sound to which the Juke Joint 5 is dedicated.”
Examiner: Do you have any CD’s out of original material?
Lourie: “On our five-song CD, Rock This House, we have three of our own original tunes. We’re always writing, and we’ve since added a few more to our repertoire, all composed in the same style in which we play the older tunes. People can order a copy of “Rock This House” through our website: http://jukejoint5.com/music or they can buy the EP digitally on Itunes and at Amazon.com. (Black Rose Records)
Examiner: How did we get into the music business? Was there someone who was an inspiration?
Lourie: “My first instrument was the trumpet. When, in my forties, I began to listen to less jazz and more roots music, I was attracted to the tenor sax. I would call it less of a crisis than a mid-life opportunity. I never looked back.
As I began concentrating on the blues, I happened to sit in at a club with Big Jack Johnson, an internationally renowned Clarksdale Mississippi bluesman. I played with him off and on until his death a couple of years ago; it was Jack who changed my life, brought me to the Mississippi Delta and inspired me to never give up the blues. I still spend two weeks a year in Clarksdale, playing music with many friends there, and I’ve written and published a book of poems about the Delta (but that is another story). Whenever I’m characterized as a musician, I make sure to specify: I’m a blues musician.”
Gretchen Bostrom/Vocalist: “I had been a closet singer most of my life. I loved to sing but was too shy to do it in public. I’d been “caught” a few times and people would always tell me that I should do something with my singing voice, but at the time, I didn’t have the confidence. After going through a rough period around age 28, I decided to throw caution to the wind and sing. I joined a group singing class. I started going to open mics. I studied jazz and started out as a jazz singer. I’d always loved blues but it wasn’t until I met Lourie and was looking to start a blues band that everything finally gelled and I got away from jazz and focused 100% on the music that is my passion and that I feel in my soul–blues.”
For more upcoming shows visit the bands website at: http://jukejoint5.com/shows
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – The Can Tab Lounge, 738 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA.
Sunday, January 26, 2014 – Brodie’s Seaport Cafe, 215 Derby Street, Salem, MA.
Saturday, February 1, 2014 – Winthrop Elks, 191 Washington Street, Winthrop, MA.
Friday, February 7, 2014 – The Next Page, 550 Broad Street, East Weymouth, MA.