The Toughtimes
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The Toughtimes

Band Blues Funk

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"BLISTERING BLUES"

BLISTERING BLUES: Anthony “Ant” Estrada found a way to attract a younger audience than the typical blues crowd.


Plan B this week comes in the form of the Toughtimes, a band of relatively young Tacoma musicians bent on bringing fuzzed-out old school blues to life. They’ll do just that Friday, Sept 12 at Bob’s Java Jive.


Created in 2000 by cousins Nick Santos-Carter and Anthony D. Estrada, who had visions of soul, blues and funk running through their heads, over time the Toughtimes have developed into a fresh-faced group of blues diehards breathing life into a genre many believe has already seen its best days.


“I loved B.B. King as far back as I can remember. When I was 15 years old, I had a cheesy Yamaha sampling keyboard and a drum machine that I used to make hip-hop beats with. I was digging through my dad’s records one day looking for samples and I happened upon a John Lee Hooker record — it was his early Detroit sessions, real raw, stripped down, and it cut to the bone. I gradually put down the sampler and picked up the guitar,” says Estrada.

“Initially we were going to play more soul ballads like the type you would hear coming out of a slammed ‘64 Impala cruising the boulevard, but that changed a little. We went to a harder driving sound geared more towards a younger crowd, and it’s gotten us over so far. I really want to reach a younger crowd with the music we play.”


Reaching a younger crowd with the blues isn’t always easy — unless, of course, you call it rock and roll. Over time the Toughtimes seem to have found a winning combination of both.

“Young folks and grown folks alike dig the hell out of what we’re doing,” says Estrada. “It seems like people are shocked at first by the sound that our raggedy three-piece band is putting out, but after the initial shock, it seems like butts start moving and feet get to tappin’.”

Butts moving and feet tappin’ — what more could a young blues man ask for? Whether it’s your plan A, B, or C this week, the Toughtimes show Friday at Bob’s Java Jive should be a present tense history lesson well worth digesting.

by Matt Driscoll
Sep 11, 2008

- Weekly Volcano


Discography

(2003) "In The Alley" LP w/ Chazz Bessette on drums, all-Blues album

(2007) "Garage Talk" LP w/ 3-piece lineup

TBA Tramp Records 45 "Shakin' Something" b/w "Dumpster Juice"

Currently, the only way to hear our songs is our Myspace page, myspace.com/thetoughtimes

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Bio

Our influences consist of all the musicians, singers, and songwriters who never had a hit and went unrecognized in spite of their tremendous talents. Any band can play "Sweet Home Chicago" or "Mustang Sally" and get over, but we strive to find lesser-known to extremely obscure material combined with our own originals to simultaneously intrigue and move the audience.

We're a little different in the aforementioned respect and in that we're playing some songs meant for a full horn section and sometimes an orchestra with just the standard setup of 2 guitars, bass and drums. We play as an ensemble, which we feel is a dying art in today's jam-band and guitar pyrotechnic-dominated scene.
We started back in 2001 in Tacoma, WA, when I (Anthony Estrada, vocals/gtr) convinced and subsequently taught my cousin Nick Santos-Carter to play bass. We found we had similar tastes in music all across the board and decided to team up with Chazz Bessette, an extremely gifted musician who was kind enough to drum for us. Unfortunately, Chazz got involved in other musical endeavors and parted with us amicably, which left Nick and I to develop even more material for our band. In 2007, our drummer and longtime friend Todd Searles stepped into the fold and acquainted himself with the music we were playing (he previously was a timekeeper for various experimental rock bands and also fills the drum chair for post-rock band Mercy Pirates) and brought a new drive to the band. We gigged around the South Sound's plentiful dive bars as a 3-piece band until early this year, when guitarist Curtis Smith came into the fold. Curtis hails from Southern California and brings his experience as a sideman to many blues luminaries to the band, among them King Ernest Baker, Johnny Dyer, Janiva Magness, Junior Watson and a host of others.