Amos Garrett

Amos Garrett

BandBluesJazz

Amos Garrett has been part of the roots music scene for well over 40 years, and right now he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor. He is marking a new level of independence and has released what his fellow musicians are already calling the best record of his long career.

Biography

A Stony Plain artist biography

Amos Garrett:
A fascinating, understated, and
powerful portrayal of a blues legend

Is this collection of Percy Mayfield’s
songs the guitarist’s masterpiece?

Amos Garrett, if truth be told, has been part of the roots music scene for well over 40 years, and right now he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor. Laid back, and with a sense of humor so dry that one could light matches on his pants, he is marking a new level of independence — and has released what his fellow musicians are already calling the best record of his long career.

Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield is a collection of songs by one of the very best — if lesser-known — songwriters in American roots music history. And Garrett, in his wonderfully contrary way, found some of the very best tunes by the man who was called “The Poet Laureate of the Blues” — but did not include the man’s most-covered songs,” Hit the Road Jack” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love.”

“Well,” Garrett explained, “those songs have been sung before.”

Get Way Back, for once, puts the emphasis on Garrett’s deep, supple voice, with his trademark guitar style perfectly complementing the lyrics, but more understated than usual. And the songs — many of them deep, dark and full of foreboding — make for a remarkably satisfying listening experience.

Produced by Garrett himself, and recorded in Toronto and Calgary, the record features long-time collaborators Ron Casat on keys, and sax player Dave Babcock, who also arranged the quietly effective horn parts, which feature trumpet player Alistair Elliott. Bucky Berger on drums and bassist Victor Bateman are also veterans of Amos’ band, which he long ago christened the Eh! Team. Ken Whiteley, whose Toronto studio was used for some of the recording, plays piano.

AMOS GARRETT: BRIEF BACKGROUND NOTES
It’s difficult, with any successful musician, to sum up four decades of hard work and noteworthy accomplishments. Here are just a few notes about Amos Garrett.

• Born in Detroit in 1941.
• Raised in Montreal and Toronto.
• Early influences: Hearing Fats Domino, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King and dozens more at Montreal’s long-gone Esquire Club on Stanley Street.
• First band: Toronto-based folk group The Dirty Shames.
• First major U.S. appearance: At Carnegie Hall with comedian and JFK imitator Vaugn Meador.
• First choice session guitarist: During the ’70s and early ’80s, Amos recorded tracks with more than 150 artists — from Stevie Wonder to Bonnie Raitt, not to mention Anne Murray (yes, you can hear him on “Snowbird”!), Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Pearls Before Swine and Maria Muldaur (everyone remembers his one-take solo on Midnight at the Oasis), and Jesse Winchester.
• Touring: Worked as a member of Ian & Sylvia’s Great Speckled Bird and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days; and toured with Maria Muldaur as her bandleader. Has had his own band, The Eh! Team, for more than 25 years.
• Guitar heroes Chet Atkins, Richard Thompson and Mark Knopfler have all praised Garrett’s unique style.

His musical partnership with Geoff Muldaur led him to his Stony Plain debut with the release of a laid back album of duets by the pair in the mid ’70s. Now sadly out of the catalogue, it was followed by Go Cat Go, Make My Home in My Shoes, Third Man In, and the Juno-winning collaboration with Gene Taylor and Doug Sahm, Return of the Formerly Brothers. A live album with Doug and Gene, recorded in Japan, followed, and Amosbehavin’, Off the Floor Live, and Acoustic Album added to the catalogue.
Garrett has long been one of Stony Plain’s signature artists, and the thought of recording an album of Percy Mayfield songs was eagerly endorsed by artist and label alike.
After all, there are very few R&B singers who haven’t recorded at least one of Percy Mayfield’s songs, and that list includes Ray Charles, Etta James, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Johnny Adams, Jimmy Witherspoon, Junior Parker, Amos Milburn, and Nappy Brown, not to mention more recent interpreters including Mose Allison, Luther Allison and Long John Baldry.

Discography

1980 Electric Guitar of Amos Garrett
1984 Amos Behavin
1989 I Make My Home in My Shoes
1990 Live in Japan
1991 Go Cat Go
1992 Third Man In
1994 Live
1996 Off the Floor Live!
2001 Buried Alive in the Blues
2004 Michigan Water Blues
2004 Acoustic Album
2004 The Return of the Formerly Bros.
2008 Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield