Bees Deluxe
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Bees Deluxe

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Blues Acid Jazz

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"Bees Deluxe – A Can Of Bees | Album Review"

Boston-based Bees Deluxe play what they describe as “acid-blues” and they may be right. From the evidence of A Can Of Bees, it certainly isn’t traditional blues and it isn’t easy to categorise it within any other genre either. What can be said about it, however, is that it is modern music with a big chunk of blues at its core, which is played with energy and no little virtuosity. It is also challenging, different and highly entertaining.

The album is not long – clocking in at only 26 minutes – but the band pack a lot of music into seven short songs. Four of the tracks are instrumentals, allowing the band, which comprises Conrad Warre on guitar and vocals, Carol Band on keyboards, Allyn Dorr on bass and drummer Patrick Sanders to demonstrate their not insignificant chops. Warre himself wrote four tracks, and the band also covers “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, Tinsley Ellis’ “A Quitter Never Wins” and Etta James’ “Damn Your Eyes”.

Along with the blues, a multitude of other influences are on display in A Can Of Bees. Cannonball Adderly’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy” starts with a melodic, cleanly-picked guitar part that could have been taken straight from a 1960s Stax recording session. “Zoe’s Chromatic Blues” is an upbeat jazz-rock workout, with more emphasis on the chromatic than on the blues (and great Hammond B3 playing from guest Bruce Mattson). “Letter From Jail” is a mid-paced rocker that hints at Eric Clapton’s mid-80s output with its compressed drum sound and heavily chorused guitar (although it is a significantly better song than most of Slowhand’s turgid work from that period). “Roll Over Stockhausen” (brilliant title, by the way) really has little to do with either Chuck Berry or the late, modern German composer but is another fast-paced jazz-rock track, which sounds like what might happen if Freddie King took a lot of acid then wrote a song with Pat Metheny and asked a strung-out Stevie Ray Vaughan to take a solo. Dorr also takes a fine bass solo on this track. The slower “Damn Your Eyes” is played as a blues-rock song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dire Straits album, albeit with a Hendrixian wah-wah guitar solo. By contrast, “I’m A Corpse Part 2” is reminiscent of Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow/Wired period, complete with a madly overdriven slide guitar melody that floats in and out of the broader melody.

Warre’s songs are well-constructed, with vocal melodies that often take unexpected twists, aided and abetted by some intriguing lyrics. In “Letter From Jail”, he dryly notes that “This is a letter from jail. And I send it to you. And every letter begins with “Each day is the same”.”

Demonstrating a both a wry sense of humour and a novel understanding of the laws of copyright, the CD cover contains a warning that unauthorized copying “will result in being punished by our sticking burnt matchsticks in your banana.” This irreverent, no holds barred approach is extended to the music on A Can Of Bees. You are strongly advised against unauthorised copying of the album. If your tastes extend towards the acid-rock end of the modern blues and jazz spectrum, however, you will find a lot to enjoy in this release. - Blues Blast Magazine


"An Interview with guitarist Conrad Warre of Bees Deluxe, an Bostonian acid blues/funk/rock collective"

Conrad has lived and played in London, New York, Austin, Paris, and Boston. He's toured around Europe with such bands as The English Beat, Joe Jackson, the Specials, and the Selector. He's played at CBGB's and at the Hammersmith Palais. Responsible for bringing Bob Mould's band Sugar to Rykodisc, he has held various jobs including guitar-player, band manager, special-effects builder, illustrator, music journalist, as well as record company production manager. Conrad talks about the band, Hells’ Angels, and Sunday Blues Jam at the Loft.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?

I found a guitar in the attic of a house we moved into and started playing it. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a Hawaiian Slack-key Guitar, so the action was about an inch high and I developed muscles in my hands like a gorilla trying to keep up with the music on the radio.

What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?

I went to see Sonny Freeman & The Unusuals, opening for B.B. King at the Victoria Theater in London. The first song I could play all the way through – I’m So Glad, by Skip James.

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?

Everything is the blues – the blues is what you want to hear when you’re down in order to accompany you in your misery, and then when you want to lift yourself up you lay the blues, and what you want to play even if you don’t want to rise up again. The blues says something to me within every context, in joy and in pain it tempers and accelerates the emotions like putting a car in gear, or the sun coming up in the morning when you’ve been awake all night. And when you are perfectly happy, you pick up a guitar and start playing, it’s like adding salt to food.

Everything else in your life will desert you at some point; money, looks, teeth, woman, food, cigarettes, wine, hair, children, clothes, health, your fine classic vintage triumph motorbike, but the blues will always be there for you waiting in the corner of the room like an old and dear friend who knows everything there is to know about you.

How do you characterize Bees Deluxe’s progress? How do you describe your sound?

The motivating reason behind Bees Deluxe’s existence is to afford us the ability to play material that nobody else will play, and to dig into it - as deeply as an archeologist would to disinter an upside down pyramid. Every city in the US has a community of blues bands who have almost exactly the same repertoire as each other (Stormy Monday, The Thrill is Gone, Born Under a Bad Sign, I’m Tore Down, Spoonful, etc.) – not that these songs aren’t great – especially as performed by the originators – but we don’t see the need for another band to step in the same well-worn tracks.

We strive to discover and share off-the-beaten songs and instrumentals and mix them with some of our own originals. Playing live we take many risks, and will stretch out on any tune or song if we think we’ve captured the audience’s hearts. If they don’t take to the song or tune, we’ll stamp it out like a cigarette stub under our feet and light another. We have no scripted solos or jams, everything is played by listening to one another and giving space to each other when we see the flame move across from one musician to another.

Tell me about the beginning of Bees Deluxe. How did you choose the name and where did it start?

The name is derived from the combination of a pub I used to be a regular at in North London and my Fender Deluxe amplifier. I should probably change the name, but we needed a name fast for a gig the following week after we’d had one practice!

How/where do you get inspiration for your songs & who were your mentors in songwriting?

Just as bands across America imitate each other, most radio stations do also, so we tend to browse in second-hand record stores – go to out of the way clubs when we’re on the road, and read music history books for obscure artists, and read what artists we like listen to. Nothing beats practicing on your own to create new music. I like to practice on acoustic, with heavy gauge strings to keep my hands strong, and then when we get to play live it’s like taking weights off your feet before you go for a run.

I tend not to listen to guitar players, (they’re all better than me) rather I listen to vocalist and instrumentalists who play in different songwriting worlds, some of my favorites include: Donny Hathaway, Meshell Ndegeocello, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck, Soulive, Lettuce, Derek Trucks.

How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?

We are absolutely in the hands of the audience. We sometimes pretend (to ourselves) that we should write set lists for the night (we typically play for about three hours) but after two or three tunes, we’ll start calling songs from the back of our memories that fit what is happening in the room. Sometimes the audience behaves in very un-anticipated ways, they’ll dance to the slowest blues - and then sit down and listen to the up-tempo funk-influenced material, and the next night they might have the opposite reaction. When the audience comes up to us at the end of the night to thank us collectively and individually – we thank them – because they created the evening.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

The first most exciting moment I experienced was playing at The Rainbow Theater in Finsbury Park North London, standing on the same stage that Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Traffic, BB King, Van Morrison, Little Feat, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa had played on. I think perhaps the worst moment was playing in the Metro in Paris – and getting beaten up by skinheads.

Do you have any amusing tales to tell from Sunday Blues Jam at both the Loft in Harvard Square?

We were asked to host the Sunday Blues Jam at the Loft (what had previously been the House of Blues in Cambridge) and we set up every afternoon, played for an hour, then invited musicians to step up, and we’d accompany them if wanted, then at the end of the night we’d finish up with a few more songs and strike before the room became a discotheque. There was a house engineer doing sound, and every week the guests would treat him in their own ways. Sometimes guitar players would come in from out of town, and be so loud the engineer would turn them off, once a vocalist asked for so much volume on the monitors, that we turned the PA off. The stage was tiny and people were always falling off it – especially if they’d been drinking. One night I invited the entire cast of a play at the nearby Arts Theater to join us – they were from the Netherlands, and so we sang the blues in Dutch for the rest of the evening.

What are some of the memorable stories from jams, gigs and recording time you've had?

I’ve played to an audience of Hells’ Angels in a ruined castle, who sat on their motorbikes as we played, and flashed their headlights in approval. Played in the Netherlands where loaded syringes were on display for sale in the venue lobby. In New York I played literally on the bar at a club called No-se-no with no lighting except in the single bathroom - which was lit with UV (ultra violet) lighting, so if you couldn’t see the blue toilet seat that meant someone was sitting on it.

The audience was entirely comprised of policemen (on and off duty) and prostitutes with their pimps. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I played CBGB’s on the bowery to hear of someone running out the back exit of the club with a guitar snatched off the stage or out of the main “dressing” room under and behind the stage.

From the musical point of view is there any difference between Boston music scene & other local scenes?

Having lived and played in Europe, New York, Austin Texas and Boston, I’ve found the differences to be not so much musical as technical and financial, of course that may be an expression of the changes in the commercial aspects of music over the past twenty five years, where there is a greater density of population the clubs compete with one another and squeeze the bands, when you play way out of town – the rooms/venues are fewer and farther between and the people who come genuinely show their approval, whereas in downtown New York – the club will

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES

There was an interesting book called “The Hidden Persuaders” written by Vance Packard published in 1957 - which in part described the entry of psychology into the commercial world, and the associated fields of advertising where manufacturers started to use modern psychiatry to “motivate” buyers – into buying objects they either didn’t truly need or want.

Popular music has since essentially become a product with a “sell-by” date – with all the contingent obsolescencies associated with clothes, cars, cameras, watches, brands of vodka, magazines. Blues – and to some extent Jazz - has managed to side-step the morgue by remaining true to it’s original intent – and stay viable as a contemporary art form. Words, keys, instruments, voices, arrangements can all be changed and adapted - but the core of what we play remains a music that came from Africa to America via the slave ships to the docks and the plantation fields.

Which of historical music personalities would you like to meet and why?

I would like to hear Johann Sebastian Bach, to play the Goldberg Variations as he intended them to be played. I’d like to sit with Lowell George, with a couple of decent acoustics and a six-pack, and to meet Jimi Hendrix to dissuade him from taking drugs the last year of his life. - Blues GR


"Taking Bees Deluxe to New Heights"

British immigrant and guitarist Conrad Warre has been spearheading Bees Deluxe for nine years and through eight CDs. The progressive rock, free form jazz, acid blues band gets hit with a lot of labels. Many describe them as complex, but Warre said complex or simple doesn’t matter, as long as the groove is good.

“The first thing for me in writing is a groove,” he said. “Does the tune or the bass line or does something make you want to hang in there and listen to more of it. That’s what you got to find, the pulse. And that can be simple or complicated. It doesn’t matter which.”

Warre recently experienced an epiphany. Previously, if he felt something he was writing was something he had heard before, he’d scrap it and start all over again. Then, not too long ago, a radio station friend played for him a CD of music of that’s all been done before in another form.

“It’s wonderful that I’ve heard every bar of that in another form somewhere else, but they just put it through a blender and brought it back again.” Warre liked it immediately because it was familiar and fresh at once. “I’ve kind of relaxed now,” he said. “Just this year I’ve decided the stuff I write could be more accessible and I wouldn’t feel weird about it.”

Presently, his Bees Deluxe outfit is in the middle of recording another of their progressive acid blues albums. “We’re in the studio working on an album of all original material tentatively Voice Of God,” Warre said. “This time, we’re going to record upside down. Typically, in the past, Patrick and I’ve gone in and we’ve recorded guitar and drums. Then, the bass player would come in or the keyboard player would come in and do their parts. This time around, we’re going to do drums last. So, Patrick’s going to kill me when he hears this.” When asked if drummer Patrick Sanders will first learn of this development in this article, Warred responded with “Yes, yes. That’s how he’s going to find out. Poor soul.”

The entire Bees Deluxe concept and project had formed in Warre’s mind through a circuitous creative route. He had just lost his job in Austin, Texas when his company crashed, went under. Warre had a Gibson Flying V on the floor to inspire him. So, he came back to Boston and was ready to reenter the music industry after a brief stint in corporate America.

“At that point, my children were old enough that I could expect them not to put forks in the plugholes,” he quipped. “I could actually leave for an evening and they would be responsibly watching The Simpsons without burning the house down.”

Warre recalled finding drummer Patrick Sanders and Jamie Lonto on Craigslist. Their newly form group went over well at a blues jam in Quincy, even though they were winging it. “Several people came up to us and said ‘Have you got a CD.’” To which Warre said “No, we just met.” Warre describes the current incarnation of his band as a “floating battleship.”


Bees Deluxe album cover
Bass player Jamie Lonto passed away but Warre and Patrick held it together. Their usual bass player is now Aldo Dorr, but they occasionally swap him out with Joel Cavarri and Patrick gets subbed by another drummer. Warre compares it to herding cats. He said the pre-requisite to playing in Bees Deluxe is that everybody’s got to like each other.

“If you’re going to spend two hours in a van and four hours in a nightclub and then two hours back in the van, you’ve all got to like each other,” Warre said. “B.B. King used to say ‘I hire musicians 50% because they can play and 50% because I want to play cards with them on the bus.”

Bees Deluxe record a lot of interesting things in the studio and they perform a lot of interesting things on stage. Warre might unleash a lengthy progressive guitar phrase while the rest of band maintains a smoky groove. The guitarist-vocalist-composer said he just lives for the moment on stage.

“There’s a point when you’re playing when you have a kind of out of body experience, when everything is going well, and time stands still,” he said. “I guess it’s like a drug. You just keep trying for it. As soon as you’ve done it one night, you want to do it the next night. There’s a lot of interplay in this band. We don’t play arrangements. We’ll play according to our wants and the audience’s needs. So, if a tune’s going down really well, we’re going to stretch it. We’re going to find other things to do with it. If we feel, we’re messing it up, we’re not grooving, then we’ll stop early. The whole point about playing is to expose yourself to the joy of life of hearing something that you’ve never heard before, and learning while you’re doing it, and sharing it with people.”

Warre isn’t a particularly big fan of the recording experience. He understands that if he expects someone to listen to a disc more than once, he has to make it better than something that was spun out spontaneously. Yet, he also understands that too much fussing can also be a drag. In a past life, Warre has been in a 48 track studio with a name producer working for eight hours on merely the bass drum track of one song.

“I vowed I would never do that again because it just produces Cheesewiz,” Warre said. “We’re you’re spending that much time in the studio with that much equipment, you’re just making jello.” Although other people can focus on minor details like that day after day, it just isn’t Warre’s bag. “I can’t do that,” he said. “I’m not happy unless I’ve got a guitar in my hands, and when I got a guitar in my hands, I’m always looking for other notes.”


Conrad Warre
In his Bees Deluxe band he works most regularly with bassist Allyn Dorr. Dorr used to play in a reggae band called Loose Caboose, presently works with 2120 South Michigan Avenue. Drummer Patrick Sanders works at Grover Probe Percussion and he’s a genius as drummer. He teaches martial arts so he’s as fit as an Olympian. Keyboardist Carol Band was discovered by Warre at Ryles Jazz Club playing real jazz. Stringers who sit in include drummer Paul Giovine who used to work with Tracy Bonham in Boston. Bassist Joel Chavarri, harmonica player Ottomatic Slim, saxophone player Doug Lowe.

Warre’s own songs and compositions are inspired by many sources, except for cliché’s like boy meets girl. He’s currently working on a song about a man who mistakes his wife for a keg of beer. “He cuts her head off and drinks her until she’s dry,” he said.

Warre learned his chops a long time ago. He worked as a music journalist in England for Melody Maker and New Musical Express, competing papers, which required Warre to use a separate byline for each. “Sometimes I would review the same gig for both papers with two different bylines,” he said. “It was really funny. They only paid ten pounds a review. But you get in for free. The labels were sucking up to the journalists so they would send a taxi to my flat to come and get me to take me to The Marquee to see the band.”

Warre moved onto playing in bands, managing friends’ bands, and he brushed with fame managing The Body Snatchers but walked away from it when it got big. “Like most startups, the very beginning is what’s most exciting.” At this time, it was common for Warre to have experiences like running into Phil Lynott or getting into a fist fight with Iggy Popp.

In the early 1980s Warre relocated from London to New York City after working in Great Britain as a theater carpenter, a journalist, a musician, as a manor, and running a label called Swerve under Sire. He had to start from scratch in the Big Apple because he didn’t know anybody. After hiring a rhythm section through a Village Voice ad, he got a series of gigs at CBGB’s, eventually landing a couple of Saturday night gigs opening for Living Color at the time Living Color were calling themselves Dogs Of War.

“At CBGB’s we were playing prog rock, sort of complicated stuff, and it was hideously out of fashion at that time because noise was just starting,” he said. “The next band would come up and they’d put an oil can on the stage and throw newspapers and set light to it and I’d go ‘Well, I’m glad I’m not following that.’”

Warre had come to the states because the woman he had fallen in love with was a dancer drawn to the more modern forms of her art found in the United States. Warre and his lady had illegally sublet an apartment that had belonged to the manager of Blue Oyster Cult. The apartment had a four foot cube Jacuzzi and dumpster loaded with Blue Oyster’s Cult fan mail. “He decided to give up managing Blue Oyster Cult because he wanted to go to Florida and get a law degree,” Warre recounted. “The landlord was this Ukrainian guy who would wait for me at the doorway with a baseball bat to hit me because he knew he I was staying there illegally.” Warre had to come up with a system of watching from a distance to see when the landlord left the doorway so he could run inside and lock the door.


keyboardist Carol Band
After relocating to Boston, Warre went to work as a production manager for Rycodisc in Salem, Massachusetts, the first CD only company in the United States. He was assigned to work with Mickey Hart on Planet Drum, the first Grammy awarding winning world music album. At that point, world music wasn’t a genre. “We sort of invented it,” Warre said.

From here, Warre would like to see his own band extend their own road map. Bees Deluxe will be playing The Timeout Pub in Rockland, Maine. He liked to see Bees Deluxe include Maine, New York, and Connecticut, and places in between in a single tour. His biggest challenge is making certain his band mates or their usual substitutes will be available and can get to the gigs.

“We’ve been talking with some national agencies, but I’m not sure the crew is quite ready for it because they’d have to give up their day jobs,” Warre said. “I think maybe next year we could be ready to do a three month tour, got to Florida for the winter, that kind of thing.”

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www.beesdeluxe.com - Bill Copeland Music News


Discography

coming soon: voice of dog  a true story

All original songs & tunes with special mystery musical guests.
"acid-blues – with a mission to drag the hard-driving Chicago blues and Blue Note instrumentals of the 60’s kicking and screaming into the 21st Century" 

a can of bees

Trouble in Paradise

Space Age Bachelor Pad Blues

Bluesapocalypse

Saving Civilization

3 Chords & the Truth


Check Amazon, Spotify, iTunes and Rhapsody 





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Bio

Bees Deluxe is an anything-but-basic blues band. They are hell-bent on a mission to drag the electric-analog blues of Chicago in the 60’s, the Blue Note catalog and the funk of New Orleans into the 21st century.

The band has won audiences from Maine to the Mississippi with their arresting and highly danceable originals and their innovative interpretation of  less-travelled tunes by artists like Etta James, Joe Zawinul, J.B. Lenoir, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Albert Collins and the three Kings.

"what might happen if Freddie King took a lot of acid then wrote a song with Pat Metheny and asked a strung-out Stevie Ray Vaughan to take a solo

- Blues Blast Magazine


Bees Deluxe is a full-tilt, acid blues collective comprised of Boston-based musicians. Their unique repertoire includes originals and re-interpreted 60s, 70s, and 80s covers. Taking the road less traveled, they discover and share off-the-beaten songs and instrumentals and fuse them into their own original works. They dare to be risk-takers on stage, digging deep into the vaults of blues/jazz antiquity. The result is an effortless take-no-prisoners-approach that wittingly captures the audience's hearts. 

Band Members