Anthony Paule website: www.anthonypaule.com
Frank Bey, Anthony Paul website: www.beypaule.com
May 30, 2014: The Baden Blues Festival, Switzerland
7 p.m. June 4, 2014: Club Fox, Redwood City, California
"You Don't Know Nothing" at Amazon.com
The way real blues is played has everything to do with the "Stuff." The Stuff is: little nooks and crannies all around the moving chords and vocals accenting the story and vocalist. The timing, phrasing, hesitation, the build, fills, lyrics, background vocals, emphasis, emotion, space, growl, dynamics, groove, and knowing when to release are the other 90 percent of playing real blues with feeling. It is a "feel thing" of build and release, an emotional push-pull, and call-answer with the audience. If the band is really listening to the story of the song and to the singer, they will emphasize what the singer and the story; but only a really tight band is capable of executing this properly.
The San Francisco Bay Area has a special few that play authentic blues and old-school rhythm and blues; one of those gatekeepers is guitarist, writer and producer Anthony Paule.
Paule has played in bands such as Boz Scaggs, Bo Diddley, Charlie Musselwhite, Maria Muldaur, Johnny Nocturne Band, Norton Buffalo, and Mark Hummel, and has also recorded with Hummel, Nocturne, Country Joe McDonald, and Muldaur ("Meet Me Where They Play The Blues"), and many others.
The past year has been productive for Paule, who teamed up with the soulful rhythm and blues vocalist Frank Bey, thanks to disc jockey Noel Hayes. Hayes has a radio show, Wednesday Blues with Noel, on KPOO 89.5 in San Francisco. Hayes saw Bey at Warmdaddy's, a club in downtown Philly, and was impressed. Hayes also knew Paule, put the two together. Paule did not know Bey till Hayes brought him to San Francisco.
A live recording ensued at San Francisco's Biscuits and Blues nightclub with Bey and Paule, and the "You Don't Know Nothing" album was born, and nominated for some awards. Hayes was the executive producer.
Bey is from Millen, Georgia, born number seven to a family of twelve children. He began singing at the age of four for the Rising Son Gospel Singers, and kept singing with local bands in the area. At 17, Bey procured a job driving for Gene Lawson, advance publicity man for Otis Redding. Bey would open for Redding when the opening act did not show. Using Bey and the word "authentic" in the same sentence is severely redundant, as within one bar of listening to Bey sing, you know you have arrived in the right place to hear authentic, old-school rhythm and blues.
Paule is a soft-spoken man whose kindness and respect welcomes any stranger. He has directed his music career to be an authentic blues guitar player/producer, and for the most part a caretaker of the old school style. Paule's guitar playing is understatedly brilliant. When listening to Paule play, one hears, absolute control over every desired note and sound played from his guitar a team player for the song's needs, vocalist, band, band sound, and the overseer of perfect execution in all facets of the song.
Paule hires other players of the same caliber, and has genius in his production skills. The Frank Bey and Anthony Paule band is a unit one tight unit, so well put-together that it sounds as though all seven musicians are multi-dimensionally one. The band backs and caresses the song story and vocals as one package for Bey to go anywhere he needs to offer his expressive expertise. Paule produced the "Soul For Your Blues" album so that all musicians are in the mix everyone is present, yet no one is buried in the mix, and Bey just oozes soul all over it.
Bey and Paule perform and record with a seven-piece band successfully and globally, which speaks volumes in today's economy, as designer bands and disc jockeys are more in demand these days. But, underground fans who love this music still pack venues and pay to experience live history re-living itself through Paule and Bey. Paule and his seven-piece band provide this authentic style music and production cake (if you will), while Bey provides the authentic vocals and delivery frosting. Bravo! Bravo!
The Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band rise has received several nominations for the Blues Music Awards for 2014. Another album Paule recorded in 2013, "Unleashed," by the Hound Kings, an acoustic blues three-piece band, has also been nominated.
Michel Michel: First, congratulations to you and your wife, Christine Vitale, for all of your nominations on several albums by several different award presenters!
Anthony Paule: We are honored to have been nominated for Blues Blast Magazine's Best New Artist Debut CD for 2013. Congratulations to the band, Southern Hospitality, who won this category! Thanks to everyone who voted for The Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band! I just found out that "Soul For Your Blues" is playing on 175 radio stations, which includes AM, FM, XM, and BLUES. We are very excited!
Michel: Will you give us some insight for those who may not know who they are?
Paule: Blues Blast Magazine is an online magazine, which has an annual awards ceremony in Chicago. This year it was at Buddy Guy's club, Legends. Music industry people make the nominations and the readers vote. "You Don't Know Nothing" was nominated for Best New Artist Debut Album 2013, however, we did not win.
The Blues Foundation, in Memphis, is an organization which does many things. Among them is the annual Blues Music Awards, in which music industry people nominate, and members of the Blues Foundations vote.
Soul For Your Blues is nominated for Best Soul Blues Album of the year, and in addition, Frank Bey is nominated for Best Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year. Also, "Unleashed," by the Hound Kings is nominated for Best Acoustic Album of the year. We'll be attending, and hopefully performing at the awards ceremony on May 8 in Memphis. Just to be clear, there is no affiliation between these two entities.
Michel: Most artists have a favorite album just like the fans do; which one of your albums is your most memorable?
Paule: My most memorable album is this current album, "Soul For Your Blues." This CD has eight originals written by me and my wife, Christine Vitale. This was a magical moment in time that it all came together, the right musicians, with the right singer, and the right songs in the right studio, and still feels this way when I listen to it. One morning I woke up with a song in my head; I wrote it down as quickly as my hand could write, and changed nothing; it's called "I'm Leaving You." Another morning, I woke up and again, another instrumental ("Smokehouse") came into my mind; these special songs came for this album.
Then we recorded John Prine's, "Hello In There." We adapted this folk tune and turned it into a soul song. When we finished, no one said anything; it got very quiet. When we went into the control booth, the engineer and assistant were so moved, they were crying.
We recorded this CD at Kid Andersen's Greaseland Studios. The guitar amp was in the bathroom; the bathroom doubles as an isolation booth; if someone didn't remember to turn off the microphone, we could hear things ... and the flush! The Leslie was in the kitchen, but the whole eight-piece band was in the living room; we could hardly move! There wasn't a lot of over-dubbing, and we had to have everything right.
Michel: Do you have a favorite song on the "Soul For Your Blues" CD?
Paule: My favorite song is "I Just Can't Go On," written by my wife Christine Vitale. She wrote the chords, melody, and lyrics. Christine has a way of being unpretentious ... She has a way of writing lyrics that just cut right to the heart. In a few words, she has captured a deep soulful feeling with this song. I wrote the horn solo and wanted some credit for the song; she said no. We go back and forth like that; it's our way of doing things. (Laughs.) And something even more interesting about the recording of this song ... before the recording session, and after finishing the tune, it was the anniversary of Redding's death, 43 years later ... December 7, 1969.
Michel: Do you and Christine have a certain way you approach the staves for writing songs? I mean, do you have an organized way that you work with each other to get the songs out?
Paule: I wouldn't say we have an organized way of doing anything! Sometimes we write songs independently of one another and use each other only for opinions of the work. Other times, when we collaborate it can go many different ways. Sometimes Christine has some lyrics and no melody or groove, and I will help flesh the song out. Other times I may have some lyrics with an idea of melody and groove. In general, Christine is stronger at lyrics, and I contribute more to the melody and groove.
Michel: Who are your influences?
Paule: There are so many ... Steve Cropper, guitarist for Booker T and the MGs; Sam and Dave, and Otis Redding. As far as blues guitar goes, I have many favorites and influences, including T-Bone Walker, Johnny Guitar Watson, Guitar Slim, Albert King, Elmore James, Robert Nighthawk, B. B. King, and many others. Mostly I tend to listen to the music of the '40s, '50s, and '60s. Blues and rhythm and blues are both great loves of mine. But, for me, it's really all about the singer, because when I hear a great singer, it inspires me.
Michel: How old were you when you realized you were going to be a guitar player?
Paule: I was 12 or 13 years old when I got my first guitar and went crazy with it. Right after high school, my brother had a band and wanted me to play in his band because the guitar player quit. I never thought I would be a professional guitar player; I fell into it. My brother stopped playing around 1979, and I am still playing.
Michel: Why old school rhythm and blues, why not a new fusion of some sort?
Paule: I've never been attracted to fusion jazz music. It just doesn't move me the way R&B, soul, and blues do. I've got to feel it before I can play it. I don't mean to say fusion doesn't have soul or feeling, it's just that I don't relate to it on an emotional level.
Michel: You have been traveling globally, what countries have you been to? And, Do you have a favorite country, or which country is the most memorable for you?
Paule: We have toured most of the 50 states and back, as well as Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and Japan. My favorite is Italy. When I recorded the "Hiding In Plain Sight" CD, I brought the musicians from Italy back to the States to play on the CD. I feel a real affinity to the Italian people and culture. Now I have learned to speak the language moderately well. I feel very much at home when I arrive in Italy.
Michel: You have produced most of your CDs. How has the music industry changed for you, or to you, now that we have the Internet, and multi-track studios that run themselves?
Paule: The kind of music I do has its own niche. We have seen some changes with the Internet and the marketing tools available, and they have taken a lot of power away from the record companies. This allows us to compete sometimes on equal terms. The Internet has given the musician a little more power. Technology is a double-edged sword though, as there are many studio tools that allow music to be tinkered with, and much of the music one hears on CDs is not real.
What I love about music is great musicians interacting together with the singer. There are many CDs which are recorded one track at a time and assembled by the engineer. Although they may be well-crafted tracks, to my ear, the human element and interaction is lost. In the '70s, we started to lose the life of the music that was created by musicians playing all together in the recording studio at the same time, with little possibility of overdubs. Before, there was actually magic happening in the recording studio, and it included mistakes. We recorded our album all together in the studio, making sure that we captured the energy of the live band.
Michel: Tell me a little about producing CDs. Do you have a formula for producing your albums, or do you take each CD differently? Do you help others produce their albums? Do you produce other musicians for your record company, Blue Dot Records?
Paule: I don't have any formula for producing. Each group of musicians and batch of songs have their own unique and nuanced characteristics. I think once I've got good material, and hired the right musicians, and go to the right studio, then the sessions will go smoothly. If I lay the ground work then I don't have to micro-manage what the players are playing or what knobs the engineered is tweaking. I have had a lot of help from the band and the engineer, and I do give them credit for this. Having said all this, it's a tall order to produce and play on a recording at the same time. So on occasion, in the pas,t I have hired producers outside the band.
Michel: What have you learned all these years in music?
Paule: I have done all kinds of music; I have done a lot of different things not near and dear to my heart, and sometimes I just took gigs to make a living. There is a common saying: "Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life." You have to be true to your love. Anytime people are doing a creative job for a living, they come to decisions and sometimes have to make compromises. It is really important to stay true to yourself, rather than compromise your belief. Musicians have to do all kinds of jobs; spending time doing things I didn't really care about was something I shouldn't have done.
Michel: For the new guitarists coming up behind you, what would you share with them to help their future in music?
Paule: Being an R&B player, I always encourage that they go back to the real masters. For example, for electric blues, go back to the '50s; go back and listen to the earliest version of that song. Get the information from the horse's mouth ... the master that wrote the tune. Listen to guitarists such as T-Bone Walker, Bill Jennings, Jimmy Nolan, Steve Cropper, Muddy Waters, and others. There is nothing wrong with listening to new versions, but learning the original gives you insight into what the song was written about.
Michel: What kind of guitar and rig are you using to get your sound?
Paule: On live gigs I use mostly a Gibson ES 345, Guild Starfire 5, and a Les Paul Deluxe with an old Fender Super Reverb Amp. However, in the studio, I will use all sorts of guitars. In addition to the ones I mentioned. I use big hollow body guitars such as a Guild X 175, Epiphone Regent Zephyr Deluxe as well as a Fender Stratocaster on occasion. I also used different amps, including an old Fender Deluxe Reverb and a Peavy Delta Blues, of all things!
Michel: Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. Will you keep us informed as to the results of the Blues Music Awards nomination's results, and, when you have a new album?
Paule: Yes, and thanks for taking the time and interest to interview me. I appreciate it!