BLUES SUMMIT! Darrell Nulisch returns to the "R bar" Saturday night, January 26 for a very special night of blues with none other than the incomparable Duke Robillard and band. You won't want miss what will no doubt be a soul stirring experience.
Growing up in Dallas, Darrell was surrounded by blues and soul music at an early age. "My Dad and Mom used to take me to these honky tonks sometimes when there would be live bands on Sunday afternoons," he recalls. Jimmy McCracklin and Freddie King were early favorites, along with a kid in the neighborhood named Jimmie Vaughan. "One of his first bands, the Chessmen, used to practice down in the park about three blocks from my house," says Nulisch. "I would ride my bicycle down and watch those guys play."
Nulisch continued to mix blues and soul on aptly named Bluesoul, a 1996 release, and The Whole Truth, his debut for Severn Records in 1998.
"I never tried to beat anybody over the head with my stuff," says Nulisch of his relaxed, emotionally rich style. "I've tried at times to push a little bit harder, but it doesn't work for me. I don't feel comfortable doing it and I don't think it's a true representation of my style or what I am. You have to be who you are and just hope that people catch on to what it is. And the people who get it really dig it."
Nulisch has been categorized as a "blue-eyed soul" singer, but the overused term isn't too accurate. "People say that all the time. I'm not particularly fond of that," he says. "I never thought about whether these cats were black or white, or any of that. It never was a concern. I just liked the music. I can't help what I like, and the stuff I like happens to be black music."
Toddy Nulisch spends a lot his time on the road as guest vocalist with Grammy-winning Chicago blues harmonica legend James Cotton. He's recorded vocals for ex-Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Boston pianist David Maxwell, and Detroit guitarist Kenny Parker. But his roots lie squarely in Lone Star soil.
Putting Renewed emphasis on the Blues.
Whether it's a song, a style, an idiom or an image, Duke Robillard will render it with mastery, power, nuance and an unerring grasp of its essence.
Born Michael John Robillard on October 4, 1948, in Woonsocket, R.I., Duke has carved out one of blues' most illustrious legacies, while also trodding some lofty related territories as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, bandleader, studio sideman, producer, label operator and educator.
After showing an early affinity for music and guitar, he founded Roomful Of Blues with pianist Al Copley in Westerly, R.I., in 1967. By adding horns, Roomful announced itself emphatically as the prototypical jump blues band, and became a New England legend and a fixture beyond, as did Duke himself.
Continuing his solo career, Duke replaced Jimmie Vaughan with The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990. He cut his own much-awaited straight blues album "Duke's Blues" in 1993 for Canadian imprint Stony Plain, leading eventually to a rewarding, continuing and prolific alliance, along with releases during the ensuing years on Point Blank/Virgin and Shanachie, as well as instructional videos. He has also launched his own labels with Jesse Finkelstein, Blue Duchess/Shining Stone.
Duke's prolificity has included producing albums by Billy Boy Arnold, Joe Louis Walker, Rosco Gordon, Jimmy Witherspoon and Jay McShann, Zuzu Bollin, Billy Price and Otis Clay, Sunny Crownover, Bryan Lee and Al Basile as well as recording two collaborations with Herb Ellis, a pairing with his successor in Roomful, Ronnie Earl, a seat in the New Guitar Summit with J. Geils and Gerry Beaudoin, additional studio credits with Bob Dylan (the well-regarded 1997 "Time Out Of Mind"), Ruth Brown, Johnny Adams, Pinetop Perkins, Snooky Pryor, Al Copley, Todd Sharpville and Tony Z, and touring with Tom Waits in 2006.
Duke's resume is decorated with Grammy nominations, Handy Awards and Blues Music Awards, and other honors for his artistry, recordings and productions within the United States and internationally. On his latest release, "Duke Robillard and his Dames of Rhythm" on M.C. Records, he wields an acoustic archtop and joins six thrushes for evocative and enjoyable renditions of 1920s and 1930s swing tunes; it's a worthy successor to his 2016 BMA-winning "The Acoustic Blues And Roots Of Duke Robillard."
Duke remains based in Rhode Island and a whirlwind as a musician, producer, gardener and photographer. But wait, there's more: he's now creating fine art abstract paintings, too! At this point for Duke, versatility and mastery should come as anything but a surprise; it just means more richness in a superlative career for us to celebrate.