The Mystix
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The Mystix


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"The Mystix "Satisfy You""

Satisfy You Mystix Eyes Records| Critic: A-

Roots music made by adults. These local Mystix not only know their music history, but also the pain and happiness of their personal histories. The gravel voice of singer-songwriter Jo Lily (Sam Deluxe of Duke & the Drivers) recalls Dr. John, Tom Waits and late-period Bob Dylan. Melding blues, rock and country, there is a touching, vulnerable gentleness amid the grit. Download: ‘‘On My Way.”
- The Boston Herald


Blue Morning (Mystix Eyes)
Boston-based Mystix makes lunch-bucket roots rock with a working-class ethos - lots of heavy lifting but no wasted motion. Fronted by Jo Lily (aka Sam Deluxe of Duke and the Drivers), the band of guitarist Bobby Keyes, drummer Marty Richards, bassist Marty Ballou and keyboardist Tom West is a collection of erstwhile hired guns who have backed local luminaries such as Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi, Duke Robillard and Barrence Whitfield. While Lily’s apocalyptic croak is so Dylanesque as to inspire confusion, there’s nothing confusing about the passion, commitment and economy the Mystix brings to its mix of blues, r & b and country.


"MUSIC SCENE - The Mystix will play anywhere - close to home"

A ‘‘bedroom band’’ is how frontman Jo Lily refers to his band, The Mystix. ‘‘We’ll play any kind of gig, as long as we can sleep in our own bedrooms at the end of the night. It’s kind of funny - it’s the exact opposite of the way we started out in rock ’n’ roll.’’
The Mystix are Boston’s most unassuming all-star group, with five rock ’n’ roll veterans who’ve been onstage with some of the music’s most popular figures. But now the quintet just likes to play music they enjoy making, within easy driving distance of their Boston-area homes.
The Mystix’ second album, ‘‘Blue Morning,’’ is just out on their own Mystix Eyes Records, and they’ll be celebrating its release with a string of dates this month, including Saturday night at Dante’s at Firefly’s in Quincy.
‘‘At our ages, we do what we want to do,’’ Lily said. ‘‘We don’t feel any need to stick to one category of music. We are all involved in other activities and other bands, but we all really like this band, so we generally give the Mystix first shot at any open dates.’’
Saying the band averages about a half-dozen shows a month, Lily agrees they could ‘‘go out there and take on a real rugged schedule of touring, but we have no illusions from our old days - we are not going to be found crammed in a van going cross-country.’’ Being a regional band is just fine with him, he said. Lily, who’s also known for his work with Duke and the Drivers, said another outlet for him is songwriting. ‘‘I was interested in learning how to play acoustic guitar better after the last Duke tour, so, after 35 years in the business, I went to Bobby Keyes to basically take some guitar lessons.” In a short time Lily and Keyes became collaborators and eventually live shows were added to the menu, and The Mystics was formed. Their 2006 CD debut, ‘‘Satisfy You,’’ saw Lily’s vocals compared to Dr. John’s and Tom Waits,’ but it was overall a little more poppy album.
Lily said the new album is ‘‘edgier.’’

‘‘Our style just developed naturally from the music we all love to play. That one country tune on the new CD (‘‘Which Side of Heartache’’) is on there because I still love to write country-western. I mean we can kick it out as much as any rock band, but we’re probably more of a songwriter’s band than anyone who’s ever played Dante’s, for example. We just don’t do 12-bar blues - although we play a lot of blues-type clubs - we try to do everything a little bit differently, in our own style.’’

Lily has come to embrace songwriting with Keyes.
‘‘I bring in the songs, as I’ve done them, and then Bobby starts polishing and typically it comes out rehabbed and much better,’’ Lily said. ‘‘I think at this point my songwriting approach is a lot lighter than before, and I appreciate the muse when it comes. Like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison have said, sometimes the best songs seem to just fall out of the sky - and it is the coolest thing.’’
Calling the new album a ‘‘very homegrown record’’ Lily said it was recorded in Keyes’ home studio in Saugus. ‘‘Many times we were able to get a real groove going in the studio and write a song from it right on the spot.’’

Although the Internet - and their Web site: - has won the band some fans in faraway places (they’re selling lots of CDs in Belgium), don’t expect the quintet to stray far from home. ‘‘This band is undoubtedly a labor of love for us all,’’ Lily said. ‘‘We all love this type of music, and we like doing it well. It’s so much better than just playing in a cover band, performing your own originals in your own style. And we work a lot, which is rare for musicians our age, or any age these days. ‘‘We want to be more than a bar band, and we have been aiming more for listening rooms lately. We might even give the coffeehouse circuit a shot, who knows?’

Future looks bright for Mystix

The Mystix - who were known as The Mystics before they discovered how many soothsayers that would conjure up on the Internet - have been together less than three years, but they have plenty of experience.
Frontman Jo Lily was better known as Sam DeLuxe when he was fronting legendary Boston rockers Duke and the Drivers. Guitarist Bobby Keyes has worked with a long list of bands, often behind the scenes, but his most visible gig was probably with New Kids on the Block, although he’s also worked with rock ’n’ roll legend Darlene Love, soul man Ben E. King and Jerry Lee Lewis.
More recently, Keyes’ NKOTB connections led to a relationship with popster Robin Thicke, whose album last year ‘‘The Evolution of Robin Thicke’’ featured a lot of Keyes’ songwriting and studio help. That in turn led to more studio work, with artists as diverse as soul queen Mary J. Blige and rapper Lil’ Wayne.
For The Mystix, Lily writes most of the songs in rough versions, and then brings them in to Keyes’ Saugus studio where the two polish them into finished products.
The Mystix rhythm section features the two Martys: drummer Marty - By JAY N. MILLER- The Patriot Ledger

"The Mystix, the band, not the river, at Johnny D's"

Singer-guitarist Jo Lily likes to look at the band he fronts, The Mystix, as containing "some of the top guns that are out there." Like guitarist Bobby Keyes, drummer Marty Richards, bassist Marty Ballou and keyboardist Tom West. (Lily used to be known as Sam Deluxe, when he sang for Duke and the Drivers.) Lily says the Mystix, which plays Johnny D's Saturday Oct. 13, took the name because "we like the idea of magic in the music, that's the only reason we're still playing. We're doing it for the love and the magic when it clicks. And the Boston connection." Which is? "The Mystic River." Oh, duh, right. Lily would love the two-year-old Mystix to become to Boston what the Subdudes are to New Orleans - that is, for people to say, if you come to that town, that's the band you've got to hear. Still, he's not claiming a leg up on other blues bands. What he's saying about the Mystix is this: "We're a gumbo of different musics, not married to any particular style, all over the road. Some stuff has more of an Elmore James feel, there's pure country - I'm a country nut, which I think is white blues - and some of it jazzy and melodic. We have an R&B core but don't owe allegiance to it. What we're saying is ours to say, we're not doing Elmore covers or Muddy covers, we're not trying to write 12-bar blues either. We're writing within our own source." One more selling point: "If they want to hear some serious guitar playing with me on slide and Bobby on lead they certainly will not be disappointed."

- A Boston arts & event guide....with Attitude

"The Roots Pedigree of Boston's Mystix"

The ‘x’ factor
The roots pedigree of Boston’s Mystix
November 6, 2007 1:28:33 PM

The Mystix want you to know they’re not fortune tellers. If you Googled their band a year ago, that wasn’t so obvious. “You’d have to wade through 15 pages of Nostradamus before you got to us,” says singer Jo Lily.
Also, they’re not a doo-wop group. “Then you’d hit the Mystics from Brooklyn,” Lily continues. That quintet recorded the 1959 smash “Hushabye” and later had a pre-Garfunkel Paul Simon as lead singer.
So between last year’s Satisfy You and their new Blue Morning, both on their own Mystix Eyes label, Boston’s Mystics changed their name to Mystix. Their new moniker stands for just one thing: a regional roots supergroup. The line-up, which convenes at the Lizard Lounge this Friday, November 9, to mark the release of Blue Morning, is led by Lily and Bobby Keyes. Lily fronted Duke and the Drivers for more than 30 years under the alias Sam Deluxe. Guitarist Keyes, who heads the local instrumental trio Lucky Stereo, has his own double life as a big-time session player and pop songwriter. His credits range from New Kids on the Block to current albums by Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke.
The Mystix also include the Martys, which is what the rhythm team of Marty Ballou and Marty Richards are called by A-list blues musicians Duke Robillard and David Maxwell, who regularly hire them. Richards has also worked with Peter Wolf and James Montgomery, Ballou with John Hammond. Both have recorded with the legendary blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. The Billy Preston of the band is keyboardist Tom West, who’s played with Susan Tedeschi, Wolf, and Robillard.
With his warm, craggy burr of a voice, Lily sounds like modern-day Bob Dylan on the Blue Morning tunes “Yolanda,” a Lily/Keyes original that also benefits from Lily’s high, singing slide guitar, and “Rattled,” which is culled from Dylan’s Traveling Wilburys catalogue.
“I’ve always liked gnarly singing that’s right on the edge,” says Lily, rasping away gregariously during a conference call that includes Keyes. He cites Joe Cocker, the Band, Screaming Lord Sutch, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James as fertilizer for his style. “My tone’s always been like that, although it’s changed with age and the help of the American Tobacco Company.”
As for Keyes, his six-string tones shift constantly. His guitars are twangy, rich, and surfy on Lily’s “Another Kind of Love.” They brim with blues panache on Jimmy Reed’s “I’m a Love You.” For the country ballad “Which Side of Heartache,” he comes on caressing and æthereal. And his solo on “New Orleans” swaggers from subtly whammy-colored chords to raw swamp-boogie licks.
Performing with the Mystix, especially live, is a different breed of beast from his session work. “I feel more comfortable in the band. In the studio you’re playing other people’s stuff or trying to get something they want. What you’ve got to create happens in minutes, but you can hammer on the same small part all day trying to nail it. In the Mystix, I can relax into the music over an hour’s set and really expand on the songs. I get to play what I like and sleep in my own bed at night.”
Whereas Blue Morning is a roots smorgasbord, Satisfy You amounts to a blues disc. “That’s because we only had two or three rehearsals before we went to New York to record it,” Keyes explains. In other words, blues was the newly minted group’s default common ground. “The second one is more organic,” Keyes continues. “We’ve been gigging regularly for a year and a half, so we’ve had time to let the songs grow.”
Also, Lily’s slide, which adds some of the disc’s moodiest instrumental flourishes, was absent from their debut. “I’d kind of forgotten I knew how to play slide like that when we were making the first record. And then it came back to me.”
During the 18 months between cutting Satisfy You and hitting Keyes’s Saugus studio to track Blue Morning, there was another change: Richards replaced original drummer Dennis McDermott, whose busy New York City studio schedule with Donald Fagen, Rosanne Cash, Boz Scaggs, Shawn Colvin, Graham Parker, and others made playing the Mystix’s New England turf difficult.
The band started by accident. In mid 2005, Lily went to Keyes, who’s his neighbor on the North Shore, for guitar lessons. “I was working on my songwriting and wanted to learn some new chords that would make my changes more interesting.” Keyes was taken with Lily’s primordial voice and evolved lyrics, and soon they were working on songs together and assembling what became the Mystix.
Given the band members’ pedigrees, it’s no surprise Satisfy You was an underground success, opening the doors of clubs and catapulting them into festivals and radio shows within the New England blues scene. Keyes and Lily hope they’ll reach a broader audience with the new album’s more diverse material. But they’re willing to go only so far — specifically, the distance to their computers - The Boston Phoenix

"The Mystix"


The Mystix, "Satisfy You" (Mystix Eyes) ***

Summer wouldn't be complete without a steaming musical gumbo of funky New Orleans-style R&B. But Dr. John, the gris-gris man with the swamped-out voice and roiling rhythms, is working as a "Mercernary" this year -- actually doing quite interesting renditions of Johnny Mercer classics. And various other Crescent City projects were either delayed by Katrina or accelerated to strike while our collective attention was focused there. Where's a music fan to turn?

How 'bout Boston and New York, of all places, where a loose-knit band of blues-rocking studio musicians called the Mystix is serving up a home roux of tunes that draw on recipes of the Fatman, the good doctor, the first family of funk, et al. Singer-songwriter Jo Lilly, a k a Sam Deluxe of Duke & the Drivers, earns his share of the royalties with his gritty treatment of the title track alone. While the rest of the album is slightly more pop oriented, there are plenty of opportunities for guitarist Bobby Keyes, drummer Dennis McDermott and guest pianist Kenny White, all of whom have played with big-time artists, to show their chops.

Jeff Johnson
July 30, 2006 - Chicago Sun-Times


Boston’s well-traveled Mystix boast vitae that include stints with Ben E. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duke Robillard, and just about every recording artist, due to the presence of guest Crispin Cioe, saxophonist for the Uptown Horns. Singer Jo Lilly, whose Eddie Hinton-esque vocal quality thrills, has for years fronted Duke & the Drivers as Sam Deluxe. Satisfy You (Mystix Eyes 322) offers a delightful range of styles, from Sam Cooke R&B (“Can’t Say Enough”) to deep soul (“Some Things About Love”) to Spanish Harlem balladry (“A Little Bit of Soap”). The title track opens the disc on an eerie, minor-key note. Uptempo numbers are scarce, with the exception of the truck-driving country of “Change My Mind” and the roots-rocker “Ding Dong.”
-Tom Hyslop - Blues Revue: The World's Blues Magazine (Oct 1, 2006)

"Review in MazzMuzikaS Free-zine 84:"

The Mystix / Blue Morning / Mystix Eyes 323

Second cd from The Mystix, the group with super talents Jo Lily, Bobby Keyes, Marty Ballou, Marty Richards and Dennis McDermott, with help from piano player Kenny White (except for the slow Change In Jane: Steve Burke). The cd is no more or less than the successor to their debut, way full of great old rock and roots songs. Two covers, a joyful version of Jimmy Reeds I’m A Love You and a rootsy cover of the Traveling Wilburys’ Rattled, but then northing else than originals from Jo alone or in cooperation with Bobby. A well thought out mix of uptempo, medium tempo and slow songs which gives the cd a guaranteed varied feel. Opening song Yolanda starts with a great slide that gives the whole song a certain Little Feat atmosphere. Even more so in New Orleans, also a little bit Radiator like. Another Kind Of Love is shock full of some great old guitar lines and Without You makes you snap your fingers in a good old-fashioned mood. Talking about the slower songs; Blue Morning can easily be callad ‘soulful’ and Which Side Of Heartache is simply beautiful with its swaying steel. With Hi-line thet close the cd in a very old-timey way, but on a very high instrumental level. A graceful cd, hats off!

- MazzMuzikaS Free-zine

"The Boston-based band has a new CD, but they still like to keep it live and local By Bill Copeland"

Music scene followers have been inundated with computerized, synthesized music for so long now that many are crying out for something as real as meat and potatoes with hot gravy.
A band of veteran musicians together for three years now are doing their part to provide local scenesters with some authentic down home rootsy music.
That band is called The Mystix. If the band’s name is unfamiliar, then maybe these names will ring a bell: Jo Lily, formerly of the popular locals Duke and the Drivers, on vocals, acoustic, and slide guitar; Bobby Keyes on guitar and Marty Ballou on bass. Marty Richards plays drums on some nights, and Dennis McDermott plays drums on others. Tom West, a keyboardist, joined just after The Mystix recorded their new sophomore release, Blue Morning.
Blue Morning represents what these aging music scene veterans have been listening to all their lives. Lily, proving himself a keen wit, gave this interview.
“If there’s to be such a thing as benefit of age, it may be that,” Lily said. “What we’re playing there constitutes probably the music we admired when we all got going. Those records were what we all listened to when we were young - Elmore James records, or Ritchie Haven’s records. I just write from what I know.”
Elmore James is a big influence on Lily’s slide playing and vocal approach and, of course, Howlin’ Wolf, too, influences Lily’s gravel-and-grit timbre.
“The rest of my voice just is what it is,” Lily said. “The American tobacco companies may be one of the big contributors to the vocal style.”
The guys in The Mystix are all sidemen who have played with big names. Some of them are playing with other bands when The Mystix has a night off.
“Marty Ballou, the bass player, is with John Hammond,” Lily said. “He just came back from Norway doing gigs out there. And Marty played with Duke Robillard and Roomful of Blues. Tom West, the new keyboard player, we just got from Susan Tedeschi’s band. And a lot of these guys have played with Peter Wolf.”
The band mate whom Lily calls his “cohort in crime,” Bobby Keyes, is a well-respected, in-demand studio guitar player in the national scene.
“He goes back to having worked at Famed Studios and Muscle Shoals. But he right now does a lot of Los Angeles. Last week he was working with Robin Thicke who’s one of these kid pop stars right now,” Lily said.
Keyes is working on a second album with Thicke at this time.
“He does some of the co-writing for Robin Thicke. He brings in grooves from his studio, and Robin works from there. He’s done Mary J. Blige and Lil Wayne. Bobby’s done guitar work on all that stuff. That started when he did the New Kid stuff,” Lily said.
Of course, the experience Keyes brings greatly benefits The Mystix.
“He has a totally different studio perspective when he comes back to play with us;” Lily said, explaining that Keyes can use his studio knowledge but play his own brand of music. “He can play his roots stuff. That’s why he loves the band so much. He puts such great energy into what we’re trying to do. He’s the engineer and the producer of all the material you’re hearing. We all did this in his house with the amps in the bathtub. This particular recording is pretty backyard.”
Lily wrote and co-wrote with Keyes the eight original songs on Blue Morning.
Lily, a writer by trade, has been a fan of the great roots songwriters for a long time.
“Well, everyone I admire wrote their own stuff. I’ve never been too keen on being a cover guy. I guess I wrote a lot of bad songs for a long time and finally learned how to write them a little bit better. I bring the tunes to Bobby, and he’ll give me some chords or some tweaks or a bridge or some suggestions, then I’ll write to those upgrades. That’s how I seemed to have gotten my material a little bit better is the co-writing with Bob. But I’m driven to be a writer. If you listen to Elmore or Muddy or Bo Diddley, they wrote their own stuff. I’m looking for my own artistic persona. I don’t think I could be happy in the bars doing Allman Brothers tunes.”
Lily said The Mystix plan and vision while writing Blue Morning, and going into the studio to record the material, was a chance to showcase the band in a different light than their first album, Satisfy You. That debut album was recorded at an impersonal studio in New York City after The Mystix had played two gigs and four rehearsals.
“In the way we approached recording, it was entirely different,” Lily said. “Satisfy You was recorded in two to three days. Blue Morning was recorded in eight or nine months, and a lot of stuff went on the cutting room floor. Everything was pretty much cut live. There’s overdubbing, but basically, if you hear a vocal, it’s probably the one I cut when we put it down. We tried to be as authentic as possible.”
Their club experiences provided testing ground for what they thought would work on the CD.
“This second album, we’ve been out playing for almost two years,” Lily said. “We - THE BOSTON BLUES SOCIETY

"Boston has a great new roots band"

Boston Herald (Dec 21, 2007) THE MYSTIX
Boston has a great new roots band. On its new CD, "Blue Morning," the Mystix - singer/guitarist Jo Lily, guitarist Bobby Keyes, bassist Marty Ballou and drummer Marty Richards - sounds like the greatest swamp-rock band you never heard.


CD, "Blue Morning" (October 2007) Mystix Eyes Records
CD, "Satisfy You" (2006) Mystix Eyes Records



The Mystix is an all-star band representing the very best journeymen of the Boston/New York music scenes, with roots in R&B, Rock and Roll and country. Recently formed, The Mystix are rapidly gaining recognition for their unique sound, featuring inspired original material and superbly crafted arrangements, as showcased in their new CD “Blue Morning”.

Singer-songwriter Jo Lily, slide/acoustic guitarist, leads the band with his legendary gritty voice and soulful delivery.

The Boston Phoenix says guitarist “Bobby Keyes evokes an entire era of classic playing” having recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E. King, and New Kids on the Block to name a few, and has been a studio player at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals.

Drummer Marty Richards—who has played with jazz great Gary Burton; as well as Boston legends Peter Wolf and Duke Robillard—drives the band with abandoned precision.

Bassist Marty Ballou—the foundation, the bottom, and he plays over the top. His recordings with John Hammond, blues icon Jimmy Witherspoon, Duke Robillard and Roomful of Blues to name a few, affirm his place as one of the greats.

New keyboardist, Tom West, he has recorded and performed with Peter Wolf, Susan Tedeschi, Duke Levine, “Sax” Gordon Beadle, Barrence Whitfield, Duke Robillard, and many other Northeast favorites.

Booking: Greg Morton, Faux Management ,774-263-8983