Artist: The B. Christopher Band
Album: Snapshots From The Second Floor
B. Christopher has primarily made his musical mark in television over the last 20 years. His music has been used thousands of times on hundreds of shows in over 30 countries. Although his line of work has not made him a household name in guitar circles it has clearly sharpened his abilities to a razor's edge. The artists that have guested on his albums are the absolute top tier of the "A List" studio musicians. Names like Kenny Aronoff, Anton Fig, Nathan East, Jerry Portnoy, Bruce Katz, Andy Snitzer, Shawn Pelton and Stu Hamm. Grammy and Blues Music Award award nominees and winners. When the band is assembled for his recording sessions it is always a powerhouse group of musicians.
There are 13 tracks in total, six with vocals and seven instrumentals. Drum legend Anton Fig returns for the whole record. Renowned Chicago blues man Studebaker John is playing harp. Ellard James "Moose" Boles handles the vocals and Nick Douglas and Eric Collier play bass. This record is a more stripped down approach than his last blues release, with a four piece band laying down a serious set of blues.
Track one, All Twisted Up is an uptempo swingy instrumental that sets this band in motion like a runaway freight train. It doesn’t take long to figure out that these are seasoned pros that came to play and they mean business. Each musician pushes the others to their fullest potential without stepping on one another in search of the spotlight. It’s not a reinvention of the blues, but proof that the blues are alive and well when played like this.
One of my favorite tracks is an introspective two minute slide guitar piece titled Smoke. This song is filled with years of not only playing experience, but life mileage as well. In two minutes the listener can hear decades of one night stands in smoky bars and long drives to the next city to set up and do it again. B. Christopher's ability to emote through his guitar is found only among the elite. Perhaps it is all that work in TV music that has taught him to paint a picture with only sound. Whatever got him there, it is clear that he is a master of it.
A couple of the standout vocal tracks are Where You At and Talk To Me. The big man doing the singing known as "Moose" is the embodiment of the blues in every way. His performance across the entirety of the six vocal tracks is perfect. There are lots of singers that play the role, then there are a small few that are the role. He is simply the stone cold real thing.
Studebaker John plays harp on the majority of the songs. It is easy to see why he is known as a Chicago staple of the blues. He was the absolute perfect choice in harp players for this album. He plays mainly a support role across most of the record, but when he takes a solo on a few of the tracks he shines like a prison search light. His tone is huge and the performance drives with taste and a clear respect for tradition, while still putting his stamp on the songs.
In my humble opinion, good blues isn’t about reinventing the music, but interpreting it authentically. These interpretations have come in many forms over the years. Whether it’s acoustic, electric, traditional, blues rock, Chicago or Texas isn’t at all relevant to my point. What is relevant is the honesty of the recording. Does it capture something real, that has its own pulse and breath? This record not only has a pulse, it has claws and teeth. The band was handpicked to lay down a pocket so deep you can't see the bottom. It is dirty and murky, the way that all great blues is. There is as much rust as there is chrome on this record. It is the contrast that tells the story that we call blues music, and this album tells a great story.
Check out the interview with B. Christopher as well.
Who are your musical influences?
I’ve always loved blues music. The older I get the more I like the Chicago stuff like Elmore James, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Snooky Pryor. But Clapton is where I found the blues and I still love his playing the most.
What single song had the most impact on you as a young musician?
Clapton’s version of Have You Ever Loved A Woman had a significant effect on me.
What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?
Being able to record with musicians like Anton Fig, Nathan East, Kenny Aronoff, Michael Powers and Stu Hamm has meant the world to me. These are guys that were hero’s to me in my formative years.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Pay attention to the phrasing. It’s all about the phrasing.
How has your music changed over the years?
I’m never interested in making the same record twice. I make a real effort to be sure it’s an evolution in some way. So I would say almost everything about my music changes with each release.
What inspires you to write the music you write?
I honestly don’t know what else to do. It’s as simple as that.
How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past?
This one is more traditional and raw. I’ve been listening to a lot of older blues over the last few years. I left all the grease in this one.
Do you feel like you are continuing to grow musically?
I feel like how I hear music is always evolving. I am less interested in stellar guitar playing and more interested in the swag of the whole thing. If there is a mistake that has the right attitude then it stays in.
If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be?
With Clapton, in a garage. I don’t need an audience to be there. Just a few straight classic blues songs and a great band.
If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?
I would like to see the infrastructure of labels return.
What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician that you are?
Commitment, patience and unrelenting attention to details.
Describe your favorite part about being a musician.
My favorite part is working with the people I have the privilege of working with. They all inspire me to make the best record I am able to.
Do you like to perform or do you prefer to record in a studio?
I don’t play live at all anymore and I don’t see myself returning to it. The recording process is enough to keep me busy and creative.
Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry.
Make a real effort to play with not just good musicians, but great ones. You will learn what a real pro sounds like in 4 bars. It is a sobering and inspiring experience. It exposes what the possibilities are and why they are who they are. Make no mistake, they didn’t get there by a stroke of luck.
What are your interests outside of music?
I’m obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. I’m also a pretty bad golfer, but I enjoy it.
What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.
My website at www.bchristopherband.com
What's next for your band?
Now that the new album is complete I will need to go back to churning out tracks for television. I will go back into hiding soon and write a whole bunch of new music.