Corby Yates Band
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Corby Yates Band

Band Rock Blues


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The best kept secret in music


"Corby Yates Band"

"There's lots of crazy bastards running around out there, but if one thing's for sure, it's that Corby Yates can fucking tear shit up on the electric guitar. Like, this guy will burn your freakin' socks off. That's right, mutherfucker, it's like he's got Jimi Hendrix on one shoulder and Stevie Ray Vaughan on the other with the goddamn devil sitting right on his head. He's possessed, he's insane, and he's only 23. Something of a vibrant anomaly in the blues realm, this is what we would call psychoactive blues-rock. It's a powerful dose of a sound that is built of legends, only this one's just getting started."

Adam Cotton - Santa Cruz Metro - Santa Cruz Metro

"Voodoo Child"

"THE SPIRIT that moves blues/rock guitarist Corby Yates has not diminished as he turns 21. Instead, the heat is turned up a notch as summer approaches, and he continues to shred his way closer to his childhood dream of being the "best guitar player in the world."

The one-time teen prodigy chose two of the most recognizable guitar geniuses to base his sound on, and blew audiences away when he appeared on local stages seven years ago, seemingly channeling through his small frame the fire-and-brimstone playing of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Yates is clearly much more than a capable student of classic blues guitar with his first CD out. Anyone who has seen him perform at clubs like JJ's Blues or Moe's Alley has likely experienced the otherworldy quality weaving through the screaming notes of his guitar solos.

In moments when Yates appears possessed by a supernatural force, he unleashes that consciousness-bending quality that transports audiences, the audio nitrous that fans of Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia crave, the ether that allows a young musician to be crowned a future guitar god like a young Tibetan lama.

People came like flocks of the faithful to watch him gyrate wildly with his guitar, producing near dead-on re-creations of the guitar heroes' songs. Today, his fans include not only baby boomers who long to recapture their youthful concert experiences but also young adults his age who crowd the stage in order to soak up a piece of history with a modern twist.

"Jimi and Stevie were my favorites from when I was a little boy," Yates says while seated in an easy chair in the living room of the La Selva Beach home he shares with his father, Jim, who also is the bass player in the power trio Yates fronts.

"Now I love [jazz saxophonist] John Coltrane, the music on albums like Meditations and Intersteller Space, and all that stuff. I like it because it's just crazy. I'd never heard anything like it. And John, he could just play so fast, but it's not all 'di doo ti doo.' It's like 'BOOM, BOOM.' Every note is, like, slamming."

Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk is also on the list of influences these days, his "cool, dirty vibe" a quality that draws the developing musician to the bebop innovator. "I just love Monk," he says. "He makes you want to play, you know?" He also cites Buddy Guy, Albert King, John Scofield and Robin Trower as guitarists he's studied.

Finding the inspiration to play never seemed a problem for the youngster while growing up in the mountain community of Shaver Lake, north of Fresno in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Born in Lake Tahoe, he always lived in an area where he was free to play the electric guitar as much and as loudly as he wanted.

His parents encouraged him to explore music from when he was a toddler, especially his father, who taught him his first chords and the blues scale when he was 6. The two of them would jam, trading off rhythm and lead roles.

Near the entrance inside the La Selva Beach house sits a photograph of a very small Corby, electric guitar strapped around his shoulders. He's standing in the forested backyard of his family's Lake Tahoe home, a big grin on his face. By the time he was in sixth grade, the die was cast.

"I knew I wanted to do it for my life," he says. "So then we started practicing instead of just playing together. We started to work on getting four sets' worth of songs. We got that accomplished by the time I was 14. It took us about three years. When we were ready, we'd go out and perform."

While his father was a major influence in his development as a young guitar whiz, Corby also took lessons for six months with Bob Bowden while in the sixth grade. He was the one to turn him on to Vaughan's Hendrix-influenced music, and he also taught him songs and licks by another of the major blues/rock stars, Johnny Winter.

In elementary school, Corby maintained a high grade-point average and explored various activities, but once he set his sights on becoming a guitarist like his idols, Corby made time for little else.

Even though he finished high school with average grades, he says he had lost interest in school studies and only remained in school for the social interaction. Otherwise, he was practicing and gigging and perfecting his performance persona by watching videos of his heroes and imitating their mannerisms.

"I think, in a way, it's like feeling the spirit of that player," he said about his ability to express emotion so intensely when he plays. "Once you concentrate on perfecting a certain player's style, you can tell what they're doing with less and less having to sit down and figure it out. I get into that, like what their whole vibe is when they play."

His success at channeling Hendrix is documented with a 1998 win of Seattle's Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition in the 17-and-under category. He won a rare prototype Fender Hendrix guitar and the Voodoo Chile award from Al Hendrix, Jimi's father.

Although he received a $25,000 scholarship to study music, instead he chooses to develop his talent the way he always has, by listening and performing. Another aspect of the award he cherishes most is the memory of jamming with Jimi's former Band of Gypsy's band mates Buddy Miles and Billy Cox.

His father said that Corby was once viewed as a novelty, but that's not the case now. His "mature" style has many elements beyond the Hendrix vibe--a funky groove, a turntablist-style scratching on his Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouette guitar, seasoned vocals and original songs co-written with his father. His debut self-titled album came out over a year ago, recorded with drummer Andy Doerschuk, who continues to perform with the father/son team today.

Despite having so much attention heaped upon him as he's grown up on the stage, the young Yates is completely cool and unaffected. Having his father with him has provided a balance, and in actuality, Jim says, they take care of each other. His mother is still in the Shaver Lake area, divorced from Jim, but still very supportive of their musical endeavors. Now closer to gigs and live concert opportunities, Corby is set to blow Marshall stacks worldwide."

Beth Peerless - San Jose Metro
- San Jose Metro

"Mind Expanding Guitar"

"It'd be easy to pigeonhole 16-year-old Corby Yates as some sort of musical savant, a guitar "freak" of interest only because of his young age. But the Shaver Lake area high-schooler is much more than a mechanical prodigy capable of pyrotechnics sans soul. He plays with all the guts and instinct of a veteran performer. Close your eyes and he'll take you to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix land; open your eyes and you simply won't believe that so much pure emotional energy can be expressed by so young a fellow.

Corby, young as he is, is the real thing. His father plays bass in Corby's band, and the elder Yates weaned the young guitarist on blues rock.

"When I was a kid," explained Corby's dad, Jim, "I had a love for music, too. I played in bands and whatnot, but eventually went on to do other things with my life. Then Corby came along. I'd play a little bit for him. Pretty soon I'd show him a lick or two, and he'd come back the next day with 20 variations on it. I was like, 'Wow!' Here was the guitarist of my own dreams and it was my own son."

Corby remembers that as early as age 3 he wanted to be a guitarist: "I remember my dad playing [the Deep Purple classic] 'Smoke on the Water' to me and I'd say 'smoke on the water, smoke on the water.' I loved that song. My dad tried to teach me some things when I was younger, but it wasn't until I was 6 that I started to get serious about it. Dad would teach me a little and I just practiced."

What makes young Corby such a phenomenon is not his technical prowess, which is nonetheless prodigious, but rather the emotional intensity of his performance. Off stage, Corby is a polite, gentle young man, but on stage he turns into a ferocious guitar demon evoking emotions usually reserved for much more seasoned performers. It's as if he's channeling all that youthful testosterone and adolescent anger into his guitar. The results can be breathtaking.

"It just comes from inside," said Corby. "I get this really pumped-up feeling. It's not sad like the blues. I'm happy up there."

Even though Corby isn't "sad like the blues," he certainly is influenced by blues artists. He said he likes "lots of the old dead blues guys like Albert King --all the Kings -- Buddy Guy, any of those guys with their own cool style of playing. I also like the way Jimi [Hendrix] and Stevie Ray Vaughan' took what those guys did and made it their own. Now I'm taking what Jimi and Stevie did and making it my own, too."

Corby's ability to affect Jimi Hendrix like emotion and pyrotechnics is now legendary. In January he won the 17-and-under category of the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition and Festival organized by the Jimi Hendrix Foundation. During the festival Corby stunned the crowd when he jammed with former Band of Gypsies members Buddy Miles and Billy Cox. Jimi's dad, Al Hendrix, presented the young guitarist with "The Voodoo Chile Award" and a rare prototype of a Hendrix model Stratocaster handcrafted by Fender's prestigious Custom Shop.

Corby also won a $25,000 scholarship from the Director of Musicians Institute, although Corby, a high school junior, has other plans after graduation. "I want to go on tour after high school," said Corby. "That's the life to me. I love being on stage. To have a record deal, play places with huge crowds -- that'd be bad!" Corby's dad is a bit more reserved: "We're taking it one step at a time."

Glen Starkey - New Times - San Luis Obispo, CA
- New Times - San Luis Obispo, CA

"Corby Yates" uncannily mature player...shreds licks with the soul of players three times his age."

Ed Ivey - Blues Revue - Blues Review


Corby Yates
Back From Yesterday
Fungus Blues

Tracks available for streaming and downloading at:


Feeling a bit camera shy


Blues was the original alternative music. And since its rebellious beginnings, much of the best in rock music has continued to evolve from those very same original blues roots.

Enter 24-year-old guitar virtuoso/singer/songwriter, Corby Yates. While physically living near Santa Cruz, CA, Corby dwells musically in a soul-stirring and mind-bending space – a world where the influences of past musical giants deeply merge with his own unique Presence. His band’s all-original live shows explore these deep and varied heavy rock and blues roots.

Corby won the prestigious National Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition in Seattle, WA, in the 18-and-under division when he was 17. He started playing guitar at six...and never stopped. Since 14, he’s been playing 50 to 125 shows a year, mainly at clubs, theaters and festivals throughout California. His old-school roots include Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Chris Cain, Robin Trower, Howling Wolf, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Eric Dolphy, The Yardbirds, Blue Cheer, and the Groundhogs.

Corby Yates Band, a power trio including his dad, Jim, on bass and Ian Blesse on drums, have enjoyed the opportunity of performing with many great artists and bands including Robin Trower, Johnny Winter, Indigenous, John Lee Hooker, Cheap Trick, The Mermen, The Tubes, Chris Cain, Robben Ford, Tinsley Ellis, Joe Louis Walker, and Jimmie Vaughan. The band plays original heavy blues/rock music - tunes written to stimulate your neurons and hopefully bring you Joy.

Corby is helping create the future of blues/rock. Experience the new music…can you say psycho-active blues/rock?