Congratulations to Chris James and Patrick Rynn, The Blues Foundation has nominated them for a 2009 Blues Music Award in the category of “Best New Artist Debut” for the CD Stop and Think About It.
A phone interview with Chris James & Patrick Rynn about their new CD Stop and Think About It. Listen to the Podcast to hear their story and music.
The band the Blue Four have released their first CD, Stop and Think About It, under the name Chris James & Patrick Rynn, its two star players. From the very first time I heard one of their songs I know I had to get them for this show. Chris James & Patrick Rynn’s CD Stop and Think About It is a great collection of Chicago blues and Delta blues. Chris James is the lead vocalist as well as lead guitarist. Wait until you hear him play slide guitar, wow can he play. Patrick Rynn is 2nd vocalist and bass guitarist. Patrick also helped James write their five original songs.
Chris James was playing blues songs on the piano when he was around 11. Chris got to know San Diego blues artist Tomcat Courtney who let this 13 year old play Harmonica in his band. Later, when the bassist quit the band Tomcat told Chris he needed to learn the bass for next weeks show, Chris did. Chris later learned guitar and started his own band to play in when he was not working with Tomcat. In 1990 Chris went to Chicago where he landed a job with Detroit Junior. He also went around to different clubs where he was able to jam with different blues artists.
Patrick Rynn started off playing classical music when he was young. Around 15 he switched from violin to bass and from classical to jazz. In college he picked up an Elmore James recording and fell in love with it. Later, Patrick joined a blues band called The Griswolds, who he played bass with for about five years. Junior Wells needed a bass player one night, as fate would have it Patrick was standing there. Junior Wells liked Patrick’s playing and invited him to be his guest at a Chicago festival. Patrick was able to meet a lot of famous Chicago blues artisst as well as perform with James Cotton. It was time for Patrick to move to Chicago where the blues were being played all around him.
In 1990 Chris was playing around with a guitar in the music store Patrick was working in. Very quickly both of them found they shared a common interest in the blues. Working together they landed gigs like the Tribute to Little Walter where the audience had Billy Boy Arnold, Sunnyland Slim, Honeyboy Edwards, and Dave Myers. They later worked for five years with Sam Lay who had played drums for people like Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Bob Dylan. Sam is also in the Blues, Jazz and Rock Hall of Fame in Memphis, Los Angeles, and Cleveland respectfully. Chris and Patrick also worked with and became good friends with Dave Myers. Dave has made records with Little Walter, Otis Rush, Earl Hooker, and performed with Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, Eddie Taylor, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Junior Wells, Earl Hooker, Luther Tucker, “Big Bill” Broonzy, Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Rogers, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, John Brim, and Bo Diddley to name more than a few. Chris and Patrick can also be seen in Martin Scorsese’s documentary on the blues, available on DVD. They are on Rob Stone’s CD Just My Luck as are Sam Lay and Dave Myers. Dennis Binder CD Hole in That Jug and Jody Williams CD “Evidence” both have Chris and Patrick on them. For more details on everything they have played on see their website (link at bottom).
Chris James & Patrick Rynn’s new CD Stop and Think About It is 12 great blues songs. Patrick decries their sound as traditional Chicago blues with an aggressive edge. That’s a very good description. Whether they are doing covers by Elmore James, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Snooky Pryor, or their originals, it’s a powerful Chicago blues sound. I was impressed how the originals are woven in with the covers.
Look at the first eight songs and who wrote them:
You’re Gone Chris James & Patrick Rynn
Early One Morning Elmore James
Mister Coffee Chris James & Patrick Rynn
Confessin’ the Blues Little Walter
I’d Like to Write a Letter Chris James & Patrick Rynn
Hawaiian Boogie Elmore James
Stop and Think About It Chris James & Patrick Rynn
Mona Bo Diddley
The songs Chris and Patrick wrote are sandwiched between songs by big blues artists. This could be a disaster for an artist with weak songs but not the case here. Chris and Patrick’s songs hold up just as good as Elmore James or Little Walter’s songs. Chris pointed out in our conversation that they picked songs that were not covered by other artists as much. Even though I have all the covers but Snooky Pryor’s “Someone to Love Me”, only Bo Diddley’s “Mona” stood out as a song I had heard before. All the songs sound new, fresh and of equal value. The lead off song “You’re Gone” is about a couple breaking up and being glad that partner is finally gone. Bob Corritore does a great job of playing harp on almost every other song starting on “You’re Gone”.
We move into the first of four songs of Elmore James “Early One Morning”, “Hawaiian Boogie”, “Got to Move”, and “My Kind of Woman”. Hearing Chris play slide guitar on these songs is a real treat. “Mister Coffee” as well as the title track “Stop and Think About It” are the high points of the CD for me. Both have somewhat humors lines like “you might live a hundred years but you won’t get no smarter, you’re sharp as a marble and your heads even harder, you’re going to pay the price it’s just a matter of time, lucky for you being stupid ain’t a crime”. Guess because we all know someone like that it really resonates with you. These songs have equally good grooves, as you will hear in the podcast. In the Little Walter song “Confessin” the blues have a more upbeat fuller sound by Chris and Patrick than on Little Walter’s recording. It’s also truer to the style of Little Walter than The Rolling Stones 1964 version. Bo Diddley’s “Mona” is done well. I’m not much of a Bo Diddley fan so I’m not a good judge here. Quicksilver Messenger Service burned me out on this song back in the seventies. If you, like most people, enjoy Mr. Diddley this will be a well added song. Snooky Pryor’s “Someone to Love Me” is a fun blues/rock song, very nice. “Relaxin’ at the Clarendon” is a swing instrumental with great sax and slide guitar. We end with the Elmore James song “My Kind of Woman”. Like the last song it has some cool sax playing then Chris goes into his slide guitar and you’re wowed one last time.
The CD is a little over 45 minutes and it was the fastest 45 minutes of the week. Stop and Think About It was played over and over again on my iPod this week. The only real disappointment is this is their first CD as a band (not doing back up work) so I can’t go out and buy more Chris James & Patrick Rynn CDs. I love this recording and will be playing it for a long time to come. I highly recommend Stop and Think About It because it’s a great blues CD. You should rush to your computer and buy it(links below). Hey, you’re in front of a computer right now. Don’t stop and think about it, this is the perfect time to buy Chris James & Patrick Rynn’s new CD. You’ll love yourself for it.
Songs played in podcast are:
I’d Like to Write a Letter
Stop and Think About It
Chris James & Patrick Rynn Website
Chris James & Patrick Rynn MySpace
To buy a digital download Stop and Think About It from iTunes, eMusic, or amazon.com
Their about 9 or 10 from the bottom of the page.
I would like to thank Chris James & Patrick Rynn for taking time to be on this show.
Blues Music and Interviews
formerly A1 Artist Spotlight. Com
by A1 Mark