If you’re a blues fan and I know that you are, lady luck is shining on San Diego next month. Lurrie Bell and Jason Ricci are headed this way for one night only, Wednesday May 3at the ultimate, intimate venue of Humphreys Backstage Live. San Diego’s own, the Fremonts, are scheduled to open the show.
If you are unaware of the name Lurrie Bell, he was born into a legendary blues family and is the son of Chicago harp player, Carey Bell. Lurrie has been playing the blues since he could pick up a guitar and remembers vividly those early days.
I was at my dad’s house, in the basement of his house, and he’d have all these damn blues musicians from the South rehearsing and they was playing the blues, man. I was a little youngster, you know? And they had a guitar layin’ down in the basement, and I think it was my father’s guitar. And while they was rehearsing, I picked the guitar up and I tried to play along with the band and I found that it came natural to me. I had an ear for it, and I got it in my head that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to learn how to play well enough that I can play with my dad. And I did.
Father and son, Carey and Lurrie Bell: “Getting Up”
Lurrie, now in his 60s, continues to perform and tour both nationally and internationally. And when you ask him today if he still likes being on the road his response is immediate.
Shit, Yea! I love touring man! I wouldn’t want to do nothin’ else. I’ll tour forever, I’ll be out there, you know? That’s the way I am! If I was working 365 days a year…that would be all right with me. I just love music, man, and I love playing it’s as simple as that. [laughing]
His productivity over the years includes 12 of his own records and is a featured player on dozens more with friends and peers. Lurrie’s guitar and vocal abilities have garnered an incredible 26 BMA nominations with four winning statuettes. His album Can’t Shake This Feeling received a Grammy nomination in 2017 for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. He is truly a living, breathing, and constantly working bluesman.
When I mentioned the tour out to the West Coast, Lurrie just laughed.
I always look forward to coming out to California! [laughing] I love California! The last time I was out, I was in San Francisco at Biscuits and Blues. That was the last time I was out there.
Bell is bringing his own band this time and it features a rhythm section most San Diego blues fans will certainly recognize. The band includes longtime Southern California resident, drummer Kurt Kalker (Candye Kane, Rod Piazza, Mud Morganfield); bassist Paul Loranger (Candye Kane, Eric Sardinas, Popa Chubby); and a special added treat, BMA award-winning New Orleans harp monster Jason Ricci. When I asked Lurrie about touring with him he said simply.
Jason is a hell of a harmonica player man; he can blow! He’s a nice guy, too. Ever since I’ve known Jason Ricci, I’ve always admired how he plays and leads a band and gets the crowd going when he blows. I dig working with him, and we’ve worked together a couple of times; he’s one of the coolest guys when it comes down to the blues. He’s a hell of a blues harmonica player, and he’s just a cool person.
Lurrie Bell: “So Hard to Leave You Alone”
Ricci, who is originally from Portland, Maine, is known as one of the most diverse and inventive harmonica players on the planet. He ranges from the punk era to rock, blues, jazz and funk and his road has taken him from Memphis through the Mississippi Hill Country to his now home; New Orleans. Ricci’s current band, the Bad Kind has absorbed even more flavor from that Louisiana-style Cajun and Creole spice. His mastery of both skills and genres has been rewarded with yet another nomination for Best Instrumentalist/Harmonica at this year’s 44th Annual Blues Music Awards. And when he speaks of Lurrie Bell he often refers to him as Blues Royalty!
I’ve played with a lot of people over the years, a lot of musicians, and I’ve been honored and privileged but man, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been moved as much as I have just listening to this man sing and play.
Lurrie Bell: “A Man and the Blues”
B.B. King once said, “Whatever it is you got, blues will cure it!” so I asked Lurrie Bell if he felt the blues was a healer.
Yes sir, yes sir! I went through some changes in my lifetime where I got confused, you know? In my surroundings, I realized that whatever’s gonna be is gonna be and you just got to make the best out of it, do the best that you can. I never gave up on my music; I figured if I played music and continued to play guitar, create my own style and reach an audience out there, I’ll be fine, you know? No matter what I was going through. And I realized over the years that’s what I was meant to do out here in the world…was to be a musician.
More than ever, we ALL need more music in this world right now.
I NEED THAT, TOO! [laughing] When you called me, I was playing my guitar. When it’s time to tour I’ll make sure my guitar is tuned up and I’ll be ready! When I get the call, I’ll get my bag packed so quick…and say Yeah, let’s go to California!
I, for one, can’t wait.
The tour with Lurrie Bell, Jason Ricci and the Fremonts hits Humphreys Backstage Live on Wednesday May 3. Get tickets early, and don’t miss your chance at seeing and hearing live blues from performers who have truly lived them.
Editors note: Update from Wicked Harem Booking & Productions. There is a line up change. Rena Beavers, will be the drummer for this tour run.