LATVIAN BLUES BAND
LIVE AT THE DREAM FACTORY
I have met so many great Blues artists from so many countries at the International Blues Showcase at the New Daisy Theater on Beale St. in Memphis. This showcase is on Tuesday evening, prior to the start of the International Blues Challenge which begins on Wednesday and continues through the Finals on Saturday.
This year, as I entered the main lobby of the New Daisy it was standing room only. Such great International artists were on stage, having fun and giving us a peek at their talent.
I was fortunate enough to catch the Latvian Blues Band performing. Thank you Baltic Blues for having sent this wonderful group. I never took my eyes or ears away from that stage. Their performance and talent was incredible to say the least.
After the show I spoke to them in the lobby. We spoke about life, music, and passion for the Blues. Blues is a passion of its own, always reaching out to catch music lovers.
→ Janis Bukovskis on lead guitar with rich vocals was just the beginning. Bring on Rolands Saulietis with rip tearing drums and great back-up vocals. Then add the horns, sax, trombone, bass, and another guitar – I knew I was in for a treat. They put the whole “Big Blues Band” package together.
Janis gave me several copies of this CD and there was no doubt in my mind it was going to be well worth listening to. That thought proved to be correct. I sent them to several radio stations, and they are being played across the country.
What is immediately apparent in these originals is how accurately these Latvians capture the character and color of the blues. Because the band consists of guitar, bass, drums, keys, and a horn section of sax, trombone and trumpet, its music weaves intricate layers of crisp arrangements. The opening cut, 'Never Meant To Hurt Ya' features Bukovskis seasoned Albert King bends answered by the band’s sturdy horns. Vocally, singer Bukovskis took his Robillard lessons to heart. There is no distracting foreign accent nor simplistic read of just words; instead he sings with the conviction he learned backing 10 years of blues legends. →
→ The eight-minute standout, 'There Are Days', wrings its slow blues emotion from the rhythmic interplay of guitas and horns. At the same time, Bukovskis delivers his message with powerful restraint. Everything else on the record tightly captures the vast landscape of the blues styles these Latvians embrace. The CD ends with Bukovskis’s instrumental, 'For You', a meditative showcase a good-time record to play over and over and surprise your music friends.
These guys are great. They play with a lot of heart and soul. Very groovy and a lot of blues feeling. Had a great time working with you guys. You are very professinal and kind, thanks a lot for 2 great blues evenings.
-Big Daddy Wilson
P.S. Lets do it again !
I am so proud of the Latvian Blues Band. 15 years ago, they recorded with my band, Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues. Since then they've backed many of Chicago's finest Blues musicians. These cats can on-the-spot play Chicago lump-de-lumps or make ice cream changes like old Chicago pros! I thoroughly enjoy having them play behind me because they learn my arrangements perfectly. They are true professionals!
Latvian Blues Band was a real pleasure to play with. Very sensitive to my every need. And a solid knowledge of the blues. I was pleasantly surprised. They got better and better with every set.
The Latvian Blues Band that I discovered in Riga that s hidden away from public and international scenes that should be recorded and become international songwriters and band. I had a pleasure to be assist as a legendary musician myself — I just couldn’t believe that they had a knowledge of this music that I was playing, which dates back five decades. They are young band that has been listening apparently this music which they have no idea what it’s all about… I was surprised to play with these young musicians… They must have been listening to decade music… and I would like to pay them the greatest compliment of being so focused on this music called U.S. blues. It would be a privilege for me and my partner to produce this band on Gilkey Records. I had a hell of a time!!!
My compliments go out to one of the hottest bands in Europe!!!!! From feel to style. The Latvian Blues Band has all the styles under their belt. We didn't´t just play the blues, we did funk, soul, rock and it was amazing. Usually, you get a band is best at just one style, this band can play it all! I can´t wait for my next tour, I would love to have them performing with me again. I have been performing with a lot of bands but never with a unit. The difference in a band and a unit is the feel. The entire group listens to what´s going on in the music. They don´t just play the music, they breath it! That´s important for a solo artist performing with a group for the first time. The group is very professional and very talented.
Never having been to Latvia, I arrived in Riga, the largest city, wide-eyed and curious as to what the Latvian Blues Band could handle; this young band was scheduled to back me for two shows at the Bites Blues Club. But it quickly became clear that American Blues music has become an international language; a language that these guys could really speak. The Latvian Blues Band is a quintet, with two fine guitarists, a keyboard man, bassist, and drummer. And they are rock solid. They play with passion and with a great feel. →
→ These young musicians have really done their homework; it is obvious that they have taken the time to listen to the great blues artists and they have become accomplished at playing the various styles that make up an interesting set of blues. Whether shuffling, swinging, or getting into lowdown, down-home blues, these guys sound authentic and honest. Most of all, their great respect for the tradition of blues music shines through in their performances which exhibit an understanding of dynamics and form that would make older blues veterans proud, The Latvian Blues Band can provide great backing for established visiting blues artists, and they have their own show, featuring top notch original songs with punchy, infectious grooves, and relaxed and soulful singing.
Traveling to Latvia for the first time I had some misgivings about who would back me up, I had no idea how well they were versed in Blues, I travel a lot and use local bands to back me up more often than not the bands do not measure up to American bands that I play with, but I was pleasantly surprised that not only was the Latvian Blues Band knowledgeable of the Blues, but they had a feel for playing it that you usually only find in American musicians and Much better than most. Kalvis and the guys made me feel I could call any tune and not worry about it. The Blues shuffle, which seems to be one of the most difficult for non Americans to master was not a problem thanks to one of the best shuffle drummers I ever played with, I don’t know where they learned their Blues, but they were obviously paying attention. They can play with me anytime.
The Latvian Blues Band is one of the most accomplished blues groups in Europe. In addition to serving as house band to a host of visiting artists — including Bob Margolin, Phil Guy, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and Duke Robillard — they have performed under their own name at music festivals accross the continent. In June of 2005, they became one of the very few European groups to play at the world famous Chicago Blues Festival.
They are undoubtedly one of the best bands that I have played with. I have played with backing bands in many countries and all over the United States and they are quick under fire.
I can throw anything at them and am confident that they can follow.
CD "Unreal" sleeve notes
The Latvian Blues Band are an amazing group of young musicians that, although they are from Latvia, have absorbed the essence of American Blues, soul and R&B and are so masterful at playing those styles that they can even write, not only convincingly, but incredible blues and R&B tunes worthy of the best American artists.
I know, because I produced this CD and witnessed it first hand!
This is truly a great band.
Being a traveling, full-time musician, I come across players of all kinds in this world. I am one of the blessed people who have had the privilege to share the stage with the Latvian Blues Band. This band consists of young musicians who have great respect and admiration for the blues.
I first met this group of musicians in 2001 when I was asked along with my friend, Giles Corey to play at the Bites Blues Club in Riga. At that time, the band that was to back us up was very young but very well versed in many styles of blues and other types of music. These days, they are still very young (some look younger now than then) and even more experienced. Their resumes far exceed anything I could imagine. They play behind musicians that most sidemen and band leaders can only dream of and they do it extremely well. It’s a trip to travel to Eastern Europe and hear Muddy Waters the way it was supposed to sound. It’s even more of a trip to hear them play some Professor Longhair or Dr. John, or James Booker with me and make me feel like I need to go home and practice my chops. →
→ There have been very few membership changes in this band and I think that that is due to the fact that these guys are not only fellow musicians but also very good friends. And their friendship carries over to the players they share the stage with. I’m talking about good vibes and good moments on stage as well as off the stage. The only negative connotation I know about this band is that they are known for backing up other artists and not so much for their own material. I say this because I know that they have a lot of their own stuff to offer that stems from that blues tradition that I and they admire. I hope that the blues world will take note of their own show because it is a world-class blues show like nothing else. Great vocals and instrumentation! Every artist deserves their own recognition and I hope that this band get it. Being from Chicago I believe that I know good players when I see them. I strongly endorse the Latvian Blues Band and hope to continue my relationship with them for many years to come.