THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BLUES
Proof that the blues will take you where you need to be.
We're all for blues traditions, but let's not forget how fresh and hot the blues can sound in the hands of a contemporary band that knows how to make things jump. 'GBB' music is funky, greasy, funny, and sharp. Finally, a modern blues band with all the vintage tools.
About The Good, The Bad, and The Blues
Breaking down The Good, The Bad, and The Blues (‘GBB’ to their friends, and to you too) we find a tight four-piece unit. Mike Darby is in the back on the drums, joined in the rhythm room by bassist Gordon Henry, with B.J. Love filling the spaces that keyboards should. And up front, singing and strangling his Stratocaster, is Aayan Naim.
Together, they might be the best example yet of what blues geographers have known for years: That Toledo, Ohio is a hot spot for roots music talent. Aayan was a transplant, like so many other bluesmen who found themselves in the Detroit-Toledo corridor when they or their families matriculated to the area for work in the auto industry. But Aayan did not wander up from the Delta or Alabama. Instead, he left a Chicago neighborhood where blues giants had settled before he was born. For example, Howlin’ Wolf lived across the street. Muddy Waters might be seen strolling down the sidewalk and Otis Clay would wave as he drove by. Imagine what it must have been like to be a kid in that place, hearing that music at night, and then learning your neighbors were the most revered people working at that trade. How could anyone in that environment not play the blues with all their heart?
Like most of his generation, though, Aayan took to a fast, hot, hard rock guitar style when he initially picked up the instrument. Oddly enough, the blues didn’t start come from his fingers until he found himself in Ohio, where he was asked to back a seasoned local blues singer named Crawdaddy. Soon, his playing slowed to a new precision and his performances had a different meaning. And, as it always seems to do, the blues trail brought fellow travelers as a reward. Darby, Love, and Henry could rock with the best, but were on the same quest to find out what this older kind of music had to offer them.
The first album reveals Aayan as the ‘auteur’ of the group, and features collaborations with Johnny Rawls, who was cutting his first Third Street release at the same time that GBB were at work. As John Henry, Third Street honcho, said at the time, “When Johnny started hanging with that band, and contributed songs right away, I knew we’d signed the right group. Everybody knows they are a hot live act, but they loved the studio experience, really putting in the work. You see that, you see them making real music right away with a pro like Johnny, and your faith is rewarded.”
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