Mike Malone and The Soul Collectors
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Mike Malone and The Soul Collectors


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"A lot of soul.Mike Malone and his band stick to the blues"

LOCAL BLUESMAN Mike Malone has tried many times to leave Long Beach and doesn't have an answer for why he keeps returning."I've lived all over but I keep coming back to Long Beach," Malone says. "I have never been able to escape the gravitation toward here. I just keep landing here. I've moved out a dozen times and keep coming back."

Malone, who performs with his soul and rhythm and blues band, the Soul Collectors, Sunday at the Pike Restaurant and Bar in Long Beach, grew up in Oakland but has lived in Texas and several other California cities. He has made a name for himself in the blues scene from his worldwide travels and performances as a vibe player and pianist with well-known artists such as Big Joe Turner, Mick Taylor and most notably Joe Houston, a saxophonist from Texas who is godfather to Malone's young son Mason.

Malone met Houston through performances at the now-defunct Hillside club, where he played with his previous band, the Lost Souls.

Houston didn't have a band when the two met but quickly put one together that lasted 12 years performing locally, nationally and internationally. Malone didn't play piano at the time, but Houston gave him the chance, an act of gratitude Malone is still thankful for.

"Joe Houston is my musical father," Malone says. "He let me learn on the job." Performing with Houston gave Malone the opportunity to do something he had always wanted to do — play the blues. The pianist discovered the blues by listening to a local radio station that played the songs late at night during the age of arena rock bands such as Styx and Journey. Malone has stuck with the blues because of his love of the music, but also because of some good advice from Houston.

"Blues is real cyclical," Malone says. "It comes in and out of fashion but it never goes completely away. Joe Houston said John Lee Hooker told him, 'You play blues, you always work.'

Malone and fellow Soul Collectors — drummer John "Dino" Guerrero, guitarist Victor Voce, bassist Michael Sunday, trombonist and trumpet player Walter Wagner and saxophonist Bob Crail — set themselves apart from other local blues acts by infusing a touch of soul and rhythm and blues music into their 12-bar turnarounds. Taking cues from acts such as Al Green, Otis Redding and other artists on the Memphis-based Stax record label gives the Soul Collectors smooth-sounding, danceable tracks reminiscent of the early days of rock 'n' roll, when the art form was new and free to experiment with different ideas. The blending of styles is perfect for Malone, who says soul music has always been close to his heart.

"We're all products of our influences," Malone says. "You are what you listen to and you always come back to what moved you and attracted you to music in the first place. My very first love, as a kid, was old Memphis soul."

The Soul Collectors' music is based on feelings, not calculated songwriting tactics, Malone says, which is why the singer/pianist knew drummer Guerrero would be a good fit, even if things didn't start off on the right foot. Guerrero's background is in jazz and rock music, a fact that came out at the group's first practice together.

"I came to rehearsal with these great big sticks I was using with rock bands," Guerrero says. "The minute I walked in I knew I was in over my head. We start playing and two bars into it, Victor, who I'm friends with now, stopped and looked at me and said, 'Get your brushes. This ain't a rock band." - Ryan Ritchie, Staff Writer NIGHT CRAWL, U-Entertainment, Long Beach Press-Telegram March 8, 2006


Diamonds For Your Tears- Full length CD


Feeling a bit camera shy


We live in a time when the value of originality and spontaneity are overlooked in favor of pre-packaged, pre-constituted fodder. Guess we all need to get paid. The thing about Malone and his band is that they play what they want and people dig it.

There seems to be an ever growing audience for what they are doing. When your music and performance speaks to people's hearts that is the logical result.

These cats can play and there is no denying it. Communicating with people and delivering a message is what it's all about. Without the audience there is nothing. You've got to make one of their club dates to see for yourself.

In the tradition of the giants of American music, Mike Malone and The Soul Collectors play with passion, intensity, and focus the music that they love.

They can jump one like Big Joe Turner, T-Bone or Louis Jordan, play some swamp boogie in the tradition of Slim Harpo, take it to church and then work it out with a Clarence Carter soul ballad. They are no strangers to full throttle rockin' in the spirit of Link Wray or a Chicago shuffle (ask 'em to play something by The Wolf).

Mike Malone has been a fixture on The local Socal blues scene for more than 15 years. He has spent a good part of that time as band leader and piano player for Texas Sax Honker, The Legend Joe Houston. He credits Joe as being his "musical father". He has written and published dozens of original tunes which are the foundation of The Soul Collectors repertoire.

Malone has worked with numerous other artists including: Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Mick Taylor, Top Jimmy, Papa John Creach, Pee Wee Crayton, Guitar Shorty, Deacon Jones and Big Joe Turner.

Collectively (LOL), The Soul Collectors have worked as sidemen with a whole lotta artists. They have made their home here with Malone and have dug in for the long haul.