Darren Stroud remains pretty practical and straightforward in his musical ventures. Want to improve your guitar playing? Practice and know that lessons and the quest to get better are a life-long venture. Interested in learning country guitar? Join one of the local country bands and submerge yourself in that style of playing, being influenced by the works of Chet Atkins, or even, and I’m sorry for acknowledging his talent, Brad Paisley. If you’re lucky, maybe you hit up a guitar camp hosted by Steve Vai and play some tunes with the man. Then there’s more practice and more playing, either as a means of improvement or letting it be your post-work attitude adjustment. Want to get better at playing the blues? Be the anchor band at a local blues jam, learn the staples, and at some point, crank out a blues record with your band.
That’s the approach and simple backstory for Missy and the Bluetones, the blues band that features Stroud, his wife, Missy Percifield on bass and vocals, and Clay Lowder on drums. Missy and the Bluetones will perform tomorrow at Moe’s, celebrating the release of their self-titled record.
Country, jazz, bluegrass, punk rock – somehow it’s all blues music. The British Invasion would have never happened had it not been for Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, or Jeff Beck doing their blues homework, while Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Winter also knew it was hip to know the music of Buddy Guy or Albert Collins. Stroud may keep someone like Yngwie Malmsteen at the top of his guitar fandom list, but he’s certainly done his blues-guitar research, too. In his professional playing career, he’s picked up on the fact that he should know the blues, and as the house band for the Moe’s Blues Jam, it made sense to step to the next level.
“We were going to get started with the blues jam last July,” said Stroud. “We had Clay on drums, myself and Missy, and felt, besides the blues jam, we should be a blues band as well. It happened simultaneously: Let’s do a jam; let’s have a band.”
Recording their record took place over the winter, which was a low-key, do-it-yourself effort. Drums were recorded at Stillwater Music, then the rest of the record was put together in Stroud’s and Percifield’s home north of Durango.
The record is a straight-ahead blues record, identifiable via Percifield’s vocals and the stunt-guitar work of Stroud. It’s a modern blues record with a bar-band feel to the songs, an unpretentious collection of upbeat numbers, lyrically loose and musically straightforward. It’s a strong, tight rhythm section that lives a solid life backing the always-impressive guitar work of Stroud.
“There’s a particular way of playing blues that I kind of gravitated toward, especially the rhythm playing, so this is the first record I was ever able to do that,” said Stroud. “I’d been waiting to do this for a while. Maybe, like, 10 years I’ve had this in the back of my mind, to do this type of sounding record. There’s not a lot of overdubs; it sounds like a live band. This is straight, raw, here-you-go, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals and this is what you get.”
The Missy and The Bluetones-hosted weekly blues jam will return to Moe’s beginning June 1.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected]