Rainy Day Blues at Ocean Mist with Willie J. Laws and Friends
An Earth Day hiking with my group turned into a meet up for blues at the Ocean Mist with Willie J. Laws and Friends. Talking about genre-bending fusion of Blues and Funk, Willie J. Laws always able to connect the music with his audience. Throughout three sets of tightly packed music, the place was popping and people were on their feet. There I met 95 years old Norman, who told me that he is at the ocean Mist almost every weekend for music; well, he was dancing in good company Willie’s funky blues.
Willie J. Laws and Friends were Willie J. Laws on guitars and vocals, Doug James on Saxophone, Bob Hassan on baritone Saxophone, Brad Hallen on bass, Richard Reed on keys, and Mike Warner on drums.
“Laws, though, just lets his sense of blues, techniques, and deep down cool come pouring fourth. Clearly, one of the finest players in New England, Laws is a man and his guitar becoming one being and just giving off the tastiest licks, the speediest riffs, the finest phrases, and he does it all over the steady thump of a hard-charging, crack team of rhythm players, like Ephraim Lowell on drums and Malcolm Stuckey on bass guitar. At many points Laws lead the band from the split second beginning of a song instead of chording his way from the rhythm to the phrase. He just takes a leap of faith, jumping right in with a mean phrase that his men take their cue from and swiftly follow, and they always did. Laws’ guitar reminds of the power of a horn instrument. Blaring, swinging, sliding around, whichever way he wants to take it. Laws has the skill and forceful musical personality to defy the natural limits of the guitar and to make it do things his way.” – Bill Copeland,billcopelandmusicnews.com
The Willie J Laws Band sound is deep Texas Roots music, add some Funk, and Jazz influenced bass patterns, and the influence of various Afro-Caribbean drum beats, all tempered with a groove from Motown, Memphis or Muscle Shoals, New Orleans. The sound is traditional African-American music with a unique twist, skillfully played and performed. Osi Brathwaite on drums, and bass player Malcolm Stuckey are the core of his band. Willie J. Laws is what many music lovers are calling the “Real Deal”.
Winner of the Massachusetts Blues Society challenge 2011.
Semifinalist 2012 International Blues Challenge and respected Beale St Award.
2015 and 2016 nominee for Best Blues Act for both New England Music Awards, and Boston Music Awards
Willie J, originally from Texas, where he developed his unique sound. Mentored by, and toured throughout the US with, the late Blues great Phillip Walker, which you can hear in his playing style. His work over the past 30 years includes performing nationally and internationally, and as the house band for The House of Blues/Las Vegas and New Orleans, and at Margeritaville in New Orleans. He also performed and toured nationally and internationally with the the Grammy award-winning Tejano band “Los Texmaniacs”. He has opened for BB King, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Hall & Oates, Lynyrd Skynyrd and numerous others. Willie was mentored by, and toured throughout the US with, the late Blues great Phillip Walker, which you can hear in his playing style. Now Willie lives in Massachusetts and plays hardcore, authentic Blues with a twist of R&B and Funk, throughout the Northeastern United States, Europe and Russia.
The following was written to describe his style: “Texas guitar slinger, songwriter and vocalist Willie J Laws creates music that is a soulful mixture of South Texas Blues and classic R & B with some Funk and Reggae thrown in. Some of his greatest influences, are B.B. King, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, The Three Kings: Freddie, Albert and B.B, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor, and Mark Knopfler. With the infusion of these diverse influences Willie has created his own sound, which will grab from the inside out.”