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Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires will release their third CD on September 13th, this time with Jackson, Mississippi’s 71-years-young blues singer James “Rock” Gray”. Gray, a contemporary and good friend of legendary Jackson singer, drummer and harmonica man, Sam Myers (Anson Funderburgh) is now a permanent member of The National Debonaires. He’ll be featured along with the great Kansas City-based singer Dave “Elmo” Bailey.
“James and Mo pack a vocal punch that is really hard to beat,” says Steve Gerard. “I love singers and these two are some of the best blues singers that can be found working today. Our shows have this tremendous variety – you can dance, cry, drink, flirt, cheat and still make it home with a smile on your face.”
The National Debonaires first two CDs, New Sounds from Kansas City and Words Are Like Bullets on the SoundGate and Blue Edge labels, have delved into a variety of blues styles, leaning on jump and traditional style shuffles. The new CD, Voodoo Workn’, features three stunning original songs with lyrics by James and music by the band.
“The material on Voodoo is so cool. James has this southern gospel, blues, soul sound with a side helping of country tinge that will raise the hair on your arms. Preston Hubbard (Roomful of Blues, The Fabulous Thunderbirds), who plays bass on Voodoo, described the sessions in Oxford, Mississippi, as “historic”.
Mike “Shinetop Jr.” Sedovic plays piano and B-3 organ. Shine has been a member of The National Debonaires since the first recording. He recently performed with Trampled Under Foot on the Blues Cruise tour and has performed with many national acts passing through his hometown of Kansas City.
Dwight Ross Jr., another Jackson native, is the drummer on both Words and Voodoo. Dwight is frequently the house drummer at the famous Monday Blues Party at Jackson’s Hal & Mal’s club. He played in Katie Webster’s band in his early career.
Calgary’s Greg “Junior” Demchuk and very good friend plays harmonica on both Words and Voodoo, as well as guitar on Words’ Baby Get Your Skirt Up. Mike Clark, one of Canada’s best known and best tenor sax players is featured on the first two CDs.
“I like to collaborate when working on a CD project. Music is good that way. Sax man Doug “Mr. Low” James and I have been working on horn section parts for Voodoo in between Doug being on the road with Jimmie Vaughan. It’s a blast and very humbling to work with all these guys.
“And James is the newest member of the family. He and I like to drive around Jackson. He took me to an old club (now closed) where he used to sing with Elmore James back in the 60s. The line is very strong from then to what we do now. The guy is so humble. You can learn a lot from people like James,” says Gerard.