Duke and the Drivers have achieved legendary stature as one of the greatest New England party bands of all time. From their inception, the band has been known for explosive rock and roll, funky rhythm and blues, and their outrageous stage show featuring front men Sam Deluxe, Cadillac Jack, Mad Mississippi Buffalo, Earthquake Morton, and Rhinestone Mudflaps III.
Formed in the early days of Boston Rock and Roll and as a result of the Duke's inspirational training regimen, the DRIVERS honed their skills playing nearly every college and roadhouse throughout New England. They went on to sign with ABC records, where they recorded two albums featuring the singles "What You Got" and "Check Your Bucket." The DRIVERS have had the pleasure of working from coast to coast with the likes of: Aerosmith, B.B. King, Deep Purple, J. Geils, ZZ Top and The Eagles. They have garnered a devoted following of Duke fans which has continued to grow to this day.
In recent years, Duke and the Drivers have anchored a series of special events, including their now infamous Annual Christmas Show. Always a smash, this year's party at The House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts sold out an unprecedented three nights in just a few hours.
With the release of a new CD and Anniversary Celebration DVD, the Duke has felt compelled to gather his unique cast of characters once again, in 2003, for the Check Your Bucket Revue Tour.
Along with the original members, this new revue includes side men associated with Buddy Guy, Peter Wolf, and The Four Tops. The incomparable Uptown Horns, best known for their work with The Rolling Stones on their Steel Wheels Tour, are also on board. The Duke is very proud of this pan cultural extravaganza and the cross generational infusion provided in JK Sampson, the Duke's favorite guitar gunslinger and biological son of Sam Deluxe.
With material that is more relevant today than ever, their zany stage antics, backed by an explosive rhythm and blues machine, the extraordinary "Check Your Bucket with Duke and the Drivers Revue" is a special event, not to be missed.
Sam Deluxe: guitar, vocals
Cadillac Jack: guitar, vocals
Rhinestone Mudflaps III: harp, saxophone, vocals
Mad Mississippi Buffalo: keyboards, vocals
Earthquake Morton: vocals, bass
LIVE - Check Your Bucket 2003
Harder Than Before 2006
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There are two women up front, inches away from the band, who just can't contain themselves; they're ...There are two women up front, inches away from the band, who just can't contain themselves; they're shaking their booty, among other things. It's rock 'n' roll, the kind that grabs your shoes and makes them move ...
They're Duke and the Drivers, a group that in the '70s was one of Boston's top party bands. At their peak, they were on the road 28 nights a month, playing the New England prep-school and college circuit. Theirs was music to drink and dance to. They had ... hit singles, including ''What You Got'' and ''Check Your Bucket.'' They opened for J. Geils Band, Three Dog Night, Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Chuck Berry, and B. B. King.
Some of the band members have known one another since grade school ... [going] ... by stage names: Mad Mississippi Buffalo (Swift), Cadillac Jack (Eaton); Sam Deluxe (Lilly), Earthquake (Morton), and Rhinestone Mudflaps III (Hixon).
They grew up. There were marriages, births ... remarriages, and more births. ''We've been friends for 35 years,'' says [Sam Deluxe].
[Sam Deluxe] is the band's musical director and songwriter ... [Mad Mississippi], lead vocalist and keyboardist ... a lawyer. Bassist ... [Earthquake] Morton became a chef. [Rhinestone Mudflaps III] saxophonist and singer, went into investment ... and banking. [Cadillac Jack] on guitar, percussion, and vocals, was a Boston TV reporter before going to law school.
Buoyed by a sold-out two-night gig last year at the House of Blues in Harvard Square [Cambridge, MA] -- they had to add a third night -- the band ... decided they were having too much fun to quit. They've ... produced a new CD, launched www.dukeandthedrivers.com, and [are] playing gigs ...
''This is the definitive Duke record,'' [Deluxe] says of the new disc, ''Check Your Bucket.''
A recent show at the Kings bowling alley and lounge in the Back Bay brought a full house. Last weekend, Duke and the Drivers cut some new tracks [toward] another album.
''When the Duke calls, I'm there,'' says Swift [Mad Mississippi Buffalo], who ... has law offices in Chicago, New York, and New Bedford [MA]. ''I think we are musically better than ever.''
They all shared a passion for R&B and soul. Their first gig, in 1972, was in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard [MA]; they didn't make any money, but the owner gave them free drinks. ''He lost money on the deal,'' says [Cadillac Jack].
The group didn't even have a name. At the Western Front in Cambridge, the owner told them they had 20 minutes to come up with one. The guys had been drinking ''drivers'' -- a drink similar to a screwdriver ... ''a cheap orange drink with cheap white wine.'' They needed a name to go with it and came up with ''Duke.''
Mention Duke and the Drivers to nearly anyone ... in their teens or 20s in Boston in the 1970s, and he or she will react. ''They were a very cool band,'' says Kai Armstrong ... of Milton [MA]. ''The music was great, the beat was strong, and they were very hip and a lot of fun. They were kind of wild, and of course Tommy [Mad Mississippi] ... was [and may we add IS] very good looking.''
Today, Swift [Buffalo] ... has a 17-year-old son and, from a second marriage, a 6-month-old son. He recently moved back east from Chicago, where he practiced law for 20 years. Part of the reason was ''The Duke'' -- the fictional bandleader. ''I feel [music is] the truest expression of who I am,'' Swift says. ''I've been in a band since I was 14 years old.''
''Duke and the Drivers had an infectious sound and a beat that was absolutely perfect to dance and party to,'' says [Dave] LaCamera, who [managed] the group in 1973 ... [in] the heady days of Boston rock, with J. Geils and then Aerosmith breaking out.... ''It's just the charisma. It's still there, 30 years later. There's a fraternity ... who don't want to let the fun go.''
... three decades have passed. Among the five of them, there are 11 kids. [Rhinestone Mudflaps III] is a grandfather. [Sam Deluxe¹s] 19-year-old son, [the Petulant Prince] will often jump in and play lead guitar...
Cathy Perron has been married to Eaton [Cadillac Jack] for 20 years ... She was at Kings with their teenagers, Brooke and Perry. ''When the children were young and in the bathtub, my husband used to play and sing to them,'' she says. ''They love this part of him.''
Brooke, a freshman at BU, acknowledges that she teases her dad about rocking out. ''It's funny to see him up there,'' she says. ''But I love it, because I know he's having a good time.'' Says Perry, 14: ''I think it's good that my dad can still go.''
Pete Cunningham, who roomed with [Cadillac Jack] at Harvard, is an environmental lawyer in Florida. Thirty years ago, he was the group's road manager. ''They're very much out of the soul tradition of the '60s,'' he says.
Each member, he says, brings a unique talent to the group. He calls [Sam Deluxe] the musical heart and soul of the band. [Mad Mississippi] is ''the showman.'' [Cadillac Jack] is the driving rhythm force, [Rhinestone] is the ''court jester, a natural performer,'' and [Earthquake] Morton is ''Mr. Soul,'' the musical historian.
Morton ... owned the Bridge Street Cafe for 20 years in South Dartmouth [MA]; now he has a catering business. ''This is really about relationships,'' he says. ''And we're making [even] better music now. Our new tracks are just outrageous.''
Hixon ... the MC ... loves stepping into his Rhinestone Mudflaps persona, calling it ''a walk on the moon.'' He's also the one who lives the farthest away, in ... Calif., but flies in whenever he's [summoned by The Duke].
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re: Duke and The Drivers' 30th Anniversary Show Before the Blues Brothers, there was Duke and the...re: Duke and The Drivers' 30th Anniversary Show
Before the Blues Brothers, there was Duke and the Drivers. The hard-driving rock and r & b outfit was Boston's ultimate bar/roadhouse band in its heyday nearly 30 years ago.
Like the Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi), Duke and the Drivers had funny stage names, played their music in earnest, and in between songs indulged in goofy, amusing shtick that also paid homage to their mentors.
Duke and the Drivers landed a national recording contract and toured with some big acts, but they never broke through the way Jake and Elwood did, no doubt in part because its members became real-life lawyers, real estate developers and TV news anchors, not superstar comics.
Eventually, the Drivers went their separate ways. But they've regrouped from time to time and apparently plan on doing it annually, according to one of the few serious comments that drifted from the House of Blues stage Saturday night to a packed room.
Rhinestone Mudflaps, Mad Mississippi Buffalo, Sam Deluxe, Cadillac Jack and Earthquake Morton showed up with a bevy of their family and friends, including sax player Jimmy Biggins, bassist Billy Mather, drummer Chuck Purro and keyboardist Doug Dube.
At times there were 10 people onstage, including Sam Deluxe's son playing hotshot lead guitar. The crew led the audience through three hours of sweaty, fun club music that ranged from new tunes and their own semiclassic numbers such as "Check Your Bucket" and "What You Got" to cover songs such as "Iko Iko" and the Motown classic, "Shotgun."
The general mood of the shows--from Friday through yesterday, all benefits for the Boston Food Bank--perhaps may be best summed up by the sole country ditty the band attempted with its chorus, "Yabba Dabba Do, the King is gone, and so are you."
There was never a false sense of importance to Duke and the Drivers' sound--it was music to dance and drink to, period. It still is, but an older and wiser crew of Drivers now advocates a more temperate lifestyle.
Just after the band dug into a feisty version of "Dr. Rock and Roll," for example, they shared their current regimen on show days: "Two jiggers of Geritol and a two-hour nap this afternoon." Obviously, the group's nonstop jive and patter, always part of its charm, is still intact. It has even managed to work 21st century technology into the act. The Duke never made it to the gig. The Duke never made it to any of their gigs. That's always been part of the package. But in the past, the apologies were strictly verbal. Saturday, the set began with a video of a partially obscured Duke, allegedly on the isle of Capri, who regretted that his Lear jet was locked up at Rome's airport, making him unavailable for the evening's amusements.
Good news for the band: They've obviously acquired younger fans over the years, because after a later announcement about the Duke's absence a Gen-Xer near the bar turned to her date and said, "Didja hear that? The lead singer never showed up."
NEMO Issue CD REVIEW
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The legendary party band, Duke and The Drivers' new release, "Check Your Bucket," is outstanding. Or...The legendary party band, Duke and The Drivers' new release, "Check Your Bucket," is outstanding. Originally formed in Boston in 1973, they became a household name as the best "party band" on the planet. Although the years have gone by, this release shows that, obviously, these guys still have what it takes. This 14 song disc will surely prove that fact. Produced by Sam Deluxe and Earthquake Morton, mixed by Joe Blaney (The Clash, Prince, Joey Ramone) at Pie Studio in Glen Cove, NY and mastered by Bob Ludwig (Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Eric Clapton) at Gateway Mastering. The live recording quality and mix is utter perfection to he max. On this CD you'll be pleased to find great vocals, guitar work and their trademark catchy material. Although all the songs are outstanding, the material that stood out the most to me were songs like Love On My Hands, You Got Soul, Will it be Me or Him, a soothing track called Like a River, and the concluding [track], What You Got.
They have a perfect mix of guitar, horns, vocals, sax and keys on their party Blues/Rock material. This is a kick ass CD to ad to your library, especially if you enjoyed rock-n-roll and Rhythm and Blues of the 70s and 80s. I'd have to give this release an 8.75 at least.
The Providence Journal
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They're introduced on their new album [CD] , Check Your Bucket as "the legendary party band of all t...They're introduced on their new album [CD] , Check Your Bucket as "the legendary party band of all time." And this three-decade-old band lives up to that awesome title with rocking R&B that shouts of humor and good times. On "I Got The Will," the rollicking call-and-response chant-- "I got my will / can' find my way"-- gets you moving and makes you want to clap in time. There's a funny lament about the passing of Elvis and of love--"Yabba Dabba Doo, the King is gone, and so are you," and even a clever parody that brings the "band of brothers" speech from Shakespeare's Henry V into the rock world. So what does the album [title] mean? Well, the title song says, when things are going wrong in your love life, "you've got a hole in your love bucket." So Check Your Bucket, and check out Duke et al.
The Port Planet
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Not so modestly, the Duke And The Drivers CD, Check Your Bucket opens with the introduction, "Welcom...Not so modestly, the Duke And The Drivers CD, Check Your Bucket opens with the introduction, "Welcome to the stage--the legendary party band of all time--Duke And The Drivers."
An exaggeration? Perhaps not. The band is of the same mystique as such Boston bands as J. Geils, Barry & The Remains, Aerosmith, The Cars, Boston, and The Sidewinders. Jimmy Buffett's got nothing on this band. They are the Party Band!
With such monikers as Sam Deluxe, Cadillac Jack, Rhinestone Mudflaps III, Mad Mississippi Buffalo, and Earthquake Morton one knows that Duke And The Drivers and its music is going to be a bit out of the ordinary. Extraordinary, the band still is, after all these years. The legend grew in Boston with jam-packed, frenzied, and hours-long performances. The Dukesters' fanatic following today would be compared to that of Phish fanatics.
The band's debut album captured much of the band's charisma, enthusiasm, and sly selection of rhythm & blues riffs.
The just-released Check Your Bucket CD captures much of the group's mystique and rock 'n' roll magic. Without a doubt, generations will connect with the ribald raucousness and fervor of the band. Comparisons to The Blues Brothers and The Stax Horns will be inevitable. The Uptown Horns (known for (their) solid work on the Rolling Stone's Steeel Wheels Tour) steady the Drivers' riotous riffs with purpose. The song selections somehow work today just fine.
It's been 30 years of rare appearances, disappearances, and legend for Duke And The Drivers. Amazingly, the band's music is as relevant and fresh now as it was then.
Whether you're listening to the new CD or catching the vibes in concert on the Check Your Bucket Revue & Tour, it is recommended that you put on your party hats and dancing shoes.
It's the only way to celebrate the legendary party band.
What You Got
Check Your Bucket
Harder Than Before
Big Head Hundreds
60 Minute Man
Way Back Home
You Got Me On The Critical List
Love On My Hands
Mr. Nobody's Somebody Now