Chris James & Patrick Rynn

Chris James & Patrick Rynn

BandBlues

Classic Chicago/Traditional blues with a modern and sophisticated twist. Upbeat and energetic.

Biography

Blues fans are well aware of vocalist and lead guitarist Chris James and bassist Patrick Rynn as longtime leaders of their own band, the Blue Four, as well as for their stellar work with a dazzling array of blues legends. Now Stop and Think About It, their debut album for Earwig Records, takes their shared musical feats to a whole new level.
The San Diego-based bluesmen inaugurated their musical partnership in 1990 when both were in Chicago for the first time. The sartorially splendiferous duo has been inseparable ever since, their telepathic onstage interplay in evidence whether they’re digging deep into classic postwar blues or dishing up the meaty, satisfying originals so prominent on their new CD.
Born in North Carolina but raised in the warm and sunny climes of San Diego, Chris was hooked on blues as a child. “I started playing piano by the time I was 11. Chuck Berry was the first guy that was really a big influence on me,” he says. Transfixed by anything having to do with blues, Chris snagged a gofer job at a local blues festival where he talked to Texas-bred guitarist Tomcat Courtney, San Diego’s top bluesman then and now. Chris was skilled enough on harp at the age of 13 to join Courtney’s band shortly thereafter their first encounter.
“I only played harmonica with him for maybe six months or something like that, and then the bass player quit. And then Tom just gave me a bass and said, ‘Okay, boy, here’s the bass. The bass player’s quit. I need you to learn this by next week!’” laughs Chris. Soon he was alternating between bass and guitar with Courtney before switching over to guitar altogether.
In 1990, Chris made his first pilgrimage to Chicago. An impromptu jam with blues pianist Detroit Junior led to his first steady gig. In his free time, Chris made the rounds of local jam sessions. He first encountered Patrick while sitting in at B.L.U.E.S. Etc. “We did not hit it off when we first met each other,” admits Chris. Fate decreed that the pair would cross paths again very soon at the Guitar Center, where Patrick worked. Chris came in and played a dazzling “Terraplane Blues.” “We became instant friends,” says Patrick. “He ended up coming down to the store just about every day.” A new blues duo was permanently established then and there.
It wasn’t like Patrick didn’t have experience holding down the bottom in a blues band. Born in Toledo, Ohio, he was classically trained on bass before a buddy urged him to check out a high school jazz ensemble led by veteran saxist Floyd “Candy” Johnson, who invited the young bassist to play with the orchestra. “That’s how I got introduced into blues,” says Patrick, who had an epiphany while attending college when he heard Elmore James for the first time on tape. “My whole world just changed,” he says. “It just blew me away.” After serious woodshedding, Patrick hooked on as bassist with Toledo’s leading blues band, the Griswolds, led by brothers Art and Roman Griswold. “I ended up playing with them for five years,” he says.
Harmonica great Junior Wells invited Patrick to Chicago in the spring of 1990. That autumn he moved there. With both young bluesmen thus settled in the Windy City, Chris drilled Patrick on the traditional aspects of the blues. “He was teaching me the rudiments of everything,” says Patrick. “I was exhausted. But over time, it started happening.” The pair’s first big break came at a tribute to harp immortal Little Walter at Rosa’s Lounge. An all-star cast of Chicago blues giants was in attendance, including the legendary Louis and Dave Myers.
“Louis and Dave and all these guys, they wanted a break,” says Chris. “They asked me, ‘Do you know Little Walter?’ I said, ‘Of course I know Walter’s stuff!’ So they put us up there, and we started playing. And there’s Willie Smith and Sam Lay and all these guys, looking at us.” It took a few months, but that performance paid off. “The phone rang, and Chris runs in the house, and he’s in there for about a half hour,” says Patrick. “And he comes running out.
He says, ‘Get packed! We’re going to Atlanta!’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean?” He said, ‘Sam Lay–we just got hired!’” The two anchored the powerhouse drummer’s band for five years.
The two grew close to Dave Myers, co-founder of the Aces and a Chicago blues electric bass pioneer. “We used to go over to his house and spend all night just sitting in his kitchen playing. Chris on guitar, Dave on guitar, me playing Davey’s bass. I always knew I was doing okay if Dave was smiling,” says Patrick. “Dave Myers was a huge influence on me. Not only was he an influence, but he was a really dear, close friend.”
While playing in Colorado in 1994, Lay invited budding harp player Rob Stone to sit in with the band. Like Chris and Patrick, Rob felt a migrational pull to Chicago. The three teamed up as a unit there, and when Stone decided to make an album, he asked his friends to help. “Robbie wanted to start getting gigs in

Lyrics

Mister Coffee

Written By: Chris James & Patrick Rynn

Mister Coffee

Chorus:
Yes, they call me Mister Coffee ‘cause I’m the man that grinds so fine x 2
Good to the last drop darling, you can have me anytime

Verse:
Now I’ll get you started in the morning and keep you up late at night
Bet your bottom dollar, Mister Coffee will treat you right

Chorus:
Yes, they call me Mister Coffee ‘cause I’m the man that grinds so fine x 2
Good to the last drop darling, you can have me anytime

Verse:
Now I’ll keep you warm in the winter and cool when it’s hot
I’m good for any occasion and I always hit the spot

Chorus:
Yes, they call me Mister Coffee ‘cause I’m the man that grinds so fine x 2
Good to the last drop darling, you can have me anytime

Verse:
Now some like their coffee weak and some like their coffee strong
Some need a cup a day and some need coffee all day long

Chorus:
Yes, they call me Mister Coffee ‘cause I’m the man that grinds so fine x 2
Good to the last drop darling, you can have me anytime

Verse:
Now there are many blends of coffee and that’s a natural fact
When you try my brand of coffee you never will go back

Chorus:
Yes, they call me Mister Coffee ‘cause I’m the man that grinds so fine x 2
Good to the last drop darling, you can have me anytime

Discography

Stop And Think About It (Earwig 2008)

Chris/Pat have appeared on:
Tomcat Courtney - Downsville Blues (2008)
Big Pete Pearson - I'm Here Baby (2007)
Sam Lay - Feelin' Good (2007)
Dennis Binder - Hole In That Jug (2007)
Jody Williams - You Left Me In The Dark (2004)
Rob Stone & the C-Notes - Just My Luck (Earwig 2003)
Rob Stone & the C-Notes - No Worries (1998)
Sam Lay - Sam Lay Live (1994)

Set List

A mixture of originals and lesser known songs by blues legends, with the occasional blues standard thrown in.