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"Magazine Article"

Mission Blues – “I Don’t Live There Anymore”
by Jim Mathis

I would think by now that any fan of Christian blues in Kansas City would have heard about Mission Blues. After all, seventeen years is a long time for a bunch of old guys to be playing music together.

Well to be fair, it hasn’t always been the exact same guys. Gary Pycior is the same guy. Gary started the band that would become Mission Blues back in 1991 as part of the youth outreach at his church where he was the youth leader. The funny thing is that Gary had no music background and didn’t play an instrument or sing. By his own admission, he played a lot of music, but it was always on the radio.

On a missions trip to Mexico, he bought a harmonica to entertain himself. After driving everybody crazy, he bought a better harmonica (blues guys call them harps) and began to get serious. At the age of 39, he was now a blues musician.

Back to the youth band, the kids weren’t all that impressed, but their parents loved it. The name was changed to Mission Blues and they sat out to find an audience.

They recorded their first CD, “Blues on a Mission” in 1998, followed a few years later by “Voices.” Not wanting to appear to be in to much of a rush, and because of several personnel changes, their latest project “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” was just released in August 2007.

Long time Mission Blues fans will miss Robin Creason’s silky voice. Robin left last year to pursue other interests, mainly the Montessori School she operates with her husband. That left the vocal chores up to Tim “Doc” Caudill, Mission Blues’ lead guitar guy for the past few years. Doc’s raspy voice lends more edginess to the Mission Blues sound. Doc is also worship leader at New Life Community Church in Gardner, Kansas.

Despite the name, blues fans have often asked, “where’s the blues?” Even though most of their music has always had blues influences, many people would characterize the group as R&B – more “Chicago” or “Grand Funk Railroad” than B.B. King or John Lee Hooker. For those of us in that category the latest offering comes home. Mission Blues is finally getting bluesy.

Some of the credit probably goes to the newest member, keyboardist, Paul Draper. Draper, long time member of Jimmie Bratcher’s band, brings some cool Hammond B-3 sounds to this CD and is now a regular member of Mission Blues. But the biggest difference is the collaboration between Pycior and Caudill. Gary has always been a great lyricist and with Doc stepping up to a leading roll developing new tunes, together they have put together some good stuff.

Other members of Mission Blues are Bill Fields on drums. Old timers may remember Bill from a famous 60’s horn band. Bill is still playing, and at 59 as strong and clean as ever. Bob Wisecup is as solid a bass player as you will ever meet and a super nice guy. Kevin Gregg brings the jazz influence with his tenor and alto sax playing. The saxophone is a good fit in a blues band and every group needs some jazz flavor to keep the sound interesting. Kevin also plays acoustic guitar.

For the CD “I Don’t Live There Anymore,” the group invited Jimmie Bratcher to set in on Dobro on “Psalm 130 Blues,” the most traditional slow blues on the album. Former band member Doug Gutekunst played keyboards and Will Biggs and Darren Douglas were brought in to fill out the horn section.

Hallmark Cards alumnus, Gary Pycior is certainly the creative voice behind Mission Blues. Gary photographed and designed the cover and wrote all the lyrics. And wonderful lyrics they are. Gary cuts right to the issues facing us all everyday. The third cut, “Victim of Compromise,” is about a man named Dean who learns about peer pressure and the importance of standing firm. The fourth track, “Punchline,” is about depression. “He’s the One” provides the answer – Jesus is the one who will fill the gap that is missing in one’s life. Other songs like “Don’t Live There Anymore” address temptation, while “Secret Place” refers to the writer’s time alone with God. The last track, “Never Seen Nothin’” talks about getting back to the basics of loving God. Clearly Pycior has a lot to say. Having a great band to help bring these ideas to fruition must be a dream come true for every artist. I am sure Gary knows he is blessed.

Overall the CD is a good mix of rockin’ horn band blues, laid back acoustic guitar and harp, and lot’s of nice things in between. Even though they brought in some outside musicians, Mission Blues has resisted the temptation to over-production. Part of the art of music, like every other art form, is knowing when to stop – when is the project finished? Many artists today layer on keyboards, more harmonies, and then strings and horns until the music is so weighed down that the soul is gone, or at least, well hidden. Mercifully, Mission Blues knows when they get it right and this CD is clearly their best effort yet.

Mission Blues is planning a tour to Poland sometime in the near future, having received several invitations to play in Eastern Europe. American style blues is widely appreciated there and a great way to present Jesus Christ.

With all of the band members in the 50-60’s age group, they have plenty of miles left in them. Another seventeen years and another handful of albums is not out of the question. My guess is that we will be rockin’ with this kind of music for eternity when we get to heaven.

Mission Blues is a regular at Homer’s Coffee House. Mission Blues along with Homer’s stable of other Christian blues bands help make Homer’s Coffee House Kansas City’s home of Christian blues.

Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer, musician, and founder of Homer’s Coffee House in Overland Park, Kansas.
- GJ Magazine


You Belong to Me… MISSION BLUES

Takes all my senses!... right into my heart, my soul. Straight unlimited, deep, dark, melancholic, shouting blues! Crying harmonica, a tenor sax solo, guitar like knocking on heavens door… You do everything for finding the end of the street!!! 241% BLUES at three O’clock in the morning, when you try
figure out, where the money’s gone…
What a wonderful track!!!
Reviewed by: Stromboll1 from Vienna, Austria

Let it boss in this slow blues effort with a sweet guitar and equally sweet harmonica and sax. Arrangement is so laid back with a good job done by the rhythm section, keeping it all together. But the story is the vocals that have that ‘so blues’ gravel in every word. The bridge was a refreshing change in typical blues progression…
Good work!
Reviewed by: firhollow from Sonora, California

Great job with one of the oldest styles of music. I’m not a huge fan of the blues, but when I hear a good blues guitar and voice, I can’t help but listen. This had everything; harmonica, sax, great blues licks. The key is hit and run. Each instrument has it’s say, but it’s quick and tasteful. The mix is great, I can hear everything, even the high Hammond in the background. I really think the band did a hell of a job. The sax solo is great. Then again, nothing screams sexy like a great sax. I felt like I was in New Orleans or Chicago while listening to this song.
Great Job!!!!
Reviewed by: rythum from Unspecified

Please, no side pick string choking Billy Gibbons. (OK that’s purely personal taste)
Nice guitar tone, harp, B3!!!, and tasteful drums. And yeah, 4 string guy is on the money too. Vocals are damned good in the white Sugar Ray/ Delbert/ Kim Wilson mode. And you’re writing authentic, new blues lyrics (and that’s deceptively hard to do). Tasty guitar lead bits and then a VERY nice bridge. Cool to hear the sax come in here. Slinky Chicago feel on solo. “So many things you meant to do”--great vocal nuances here. Song goes on too long for a non-live context, but that’s a tiny fault.
Nice work!!!
Reviewed by: Jeff Roberts from Heidelberg, Germany

- Garage Band Reviews


Been Here Before… MISSION BLUES

Great riff, reminds me of “Crossroads”. If you love Cream, Rory Gallagher, then you would love it!! The singer sounds like the better version of Axl Rose. Axl Rose would kill for the ability to sing like that. The song is great coming, feels like the tension is growing more and more, can’t hide from it! Aahhh, love that Hammond part. Great player, great sound!!! I hate you ? There is a brass, two or three times in the song. I would love to hear more of it or none. It’s not fish, not flesh.
Reviewed by: Guggenberger from Munich , Munchen, Bayern, Germany

Production sounds great on this song. The guitar has great feeling to it and really compliments the song. The vocals are passionate and really shine in this song. The mix is wonderfully balanced and the instruments blend well. The drums are very well produced. Guitar and organ work is phenomenal. Overall, a very very good blues song. It should do well.
Reviewed by: Kovach211 from Weaverville, North Carolina

Nice intro. Mix is excellent. Tones and sounds are great. Voice is really good!!! Love the guitar riff and tone. Bass and drums are tight! Tambourine works well. Keys are RIGHT ON!!!!
Reviewed by: ScootPittman from Charlotte, North Carolina

Well, I dig this a whole lot. Lots a heart and the organ solo is always a plus, as far as I’m concerned. Good vocals, by the way. All in all, this is the blues!
Reviewed by: Kirbs from Richardson, Texas

Excellent production values come through right from the start. Special attention to detail in positioning of instruments creates a very good “live” picture, essential to blues tunes. Standard 12 Bar, bar blues, nice riffs and great vocals, very Robert Cray! Well done!
Reviewed by: marcschulson from San Diego, California

- Garage Band Reviews


Hour of the Storm… MISSION BLUES

Yeah!! My head is instantly rocking! Perfect blues rock sound! It reminds me of discovering great blues songs! What a massive sound!!! HEAVY guitar, great harmonica, ooooh Hammond!!!!! The vocals sound very old school!! I love it. His voice reminds me of BB King. Great turn around in the instrumental break. Good tone for the guitar.
Reviewed by: Kangamazoo from United Kingdom

This kicks in with a vengeance, rockin!! The lead vocals are quite striking and strong, perfect for this song… Like the hits between the verse and bridge-hooky… The harpin’ is real tasty, like the modulation for the guitar solo…
Reviewed by: snowheelsiim from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Nice harmonica work, a great jam tune. I’ll bet you had fun doing this cut. Nice keyboard work also. I liked the lyrics and the mood they set. The drums are tight and the feel is there. I can’t quit tapping my foot during this one.
Reviewed by: cujoe1620 from Hoquiam, Washington

This song is great. Vocals are very soulful. Great breakdown. Guitar sounds incredible. Organ compliments everything real well
Reviewed by: DougRobinson from Sugar Grove, Illinois

This song had me from the beginning. Great intro that grabs ahold of you from the get go, then everything just flows from there. Topped off by great vocals with amazing soloing. Original and refreshing.
Reviewed by: ssmccartney from Canton, Illinois

This song grabbed me from the opening click track. I love the harp tone. Could listen to the instrumental breaks repeatedly.
Reviewed by: Gtownfats from Georgetown, Massachusetts

- Garage Band Reviews


CDs: 1999, 'Blues on a Mission'
2003, 'Voices'
2007, 'I Don't Live There Anymore'... This was released in August of '07 with some of the songs receiving airplay on radio stations in the U.S. as well radio programs in Germany and Norway... It has been streamed on Cygnus radio, Christian Blues.net and Mark Kerr's Christian Blues, radio program...



Why do they call it the blues, when it makes you feel good every time you listen to it?
2008 has been another great year for the band, having received a total of 5 'Kingcat Music' award nominations this year. Along with another 'Best Blues' recognition, Mission Blues was nominated for 'Best Live Performance', 'Songwriter of the Year', 'Best Male Vocals', 'Album of the Year' and 'Best Group'. In addition the band had 5 songs from the new album chosen as finalists for the monthly 'Song of the Year' contest.
Mission Blues has been around since 1991 but has seen many changes in personel and has re-created itself several times through the years... The one constant throughout all the changes has been an addition of really fine players... The 'new' band features a solid rhythm seciton, with gritty vocals, excellent guitar leads, amazing b3 Hammond solos, blues harp, tenor sax and trumpet for just a bit more flavor...
Having received multiple 'KingCat Music' awards for 'Best Blues Band', in 2007 they added the award for 'Best Live Performance'... This band is fun to watch, as well as listen to...
But what sets this band apart is the approach to the lyrics... It's solidly blues, with lyric writing that is mature and 'real world', raising questions along with providing some answers... In a genre' that has been a favorite for a wide range of ages throughout the years, Mission Blues has a fresh take, that is positive and encouraging without being overly religious or 'preachy'...
Musically, the band has been compaired to ZZ Top, Govt' Mule, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Cream, to name a few... Bottom line, the music is just fun, with an appeal that reaches across age barriers and social groups... It's feel good music, so enjoy, and besides, life's too short not to dance!