BILLYBLUES releasing its third CD

September 08, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

The members of BILLYBLUES - Mark Lucas, Mike Norris and Colin Raitiere - are hoping good reviews of their last recording, "Moods of St. Mildred," will bolster sales of their upcoming CD, due out in November.

"We only have five-star reviews in (for 'Moods of St. Mildred')," says Lucas.

Adds Norris, "The new CD will be released just in time to begin the Christmas shopping season."

"Moods of St. Mildred" was released a couple of years ago, and the band's traditional mountain-Delta blues sound has evolved since then, Raitiere notes. The still-untitled forthcoming CD will feature a different BILLYBLUES.

"I think two things are different about the (next) CD," Raitiere explains. "First, it includes classic blues music. Second, there's an underlying excitement because it's going to be a kick-ass CD."

Adds Lucas, "This CD is more accessible."

Says Raitiere, "More accessible and more exciting."

Norris notes, "We will sound more like ourselves than we ever have."


"After six years, you learn the instrument and you learn each other and you learn the vocal capabilities," Norris explains. "I feel like we're really exploiting those things in a way we haven't done before."

Raitiere says the new CD "puts us back where we as a group started."

"We're combining sounds and trying to exploit what we do best, and playing off each other," he explains. "We're not doing this for the sake of doing it. ... We're getting less complicated."

Adds Norris, "We're getting more organic."

Raitiere says BILLYBLUES is beginning to understand the entertainment side of music.

"We're trying to be more fun," he notes.

The drive to be "more fun" came because "Moods of St. Mildred" - which Lucas and Norris liked, but of which Raitiere was less fond - was less accessible than the band's first CD, in the band members' opinions.

"It was a moodier, more reflective CD," Lucas says.

Adds Norris, "I think this CD is the strongest of the three so far. I don't think there is a weak song on it. ... It's a more visceral CD. We had to do the other two to do this CD."

Each member contributes a unique flavor to BILLYBLUES, both in sound and songwriting.

"Colin is our true blues voice in the band," says Lucas, to which Raitiere replies, "I'm the slave."

"I'm the high tenor, the high lonesome voice," Lucas adds.

Norris says, "I'm the baritone, the medium lonesome voice."

Lucas says Norris is the "credentials for Appalachians," and Norris says he is more in the "billy" direction than the other two band members.

"There are two songs on the CD, that if they're not bluegrass, they're bluesgrass," Norris adds.

He says he writes songs with the "3-by-5 method."

"I have 3-by-5 cards with me all the time," Norris explains. "I get ideas only when it's inconvenient, primarily in the car. For me, it's only when I'm preoccupied with something else that I get ideas that I'm excited by.

"I'm not worried about hearing voices so long as they're in rhyming couplets."

He says visiting eastern Kentucky gives him ideas, usually when he's leaving.

"There's a song on the CD, 'I'm Gonna Gravel This Road One Rock At A Time,' that was written on the Daniel Boone Parkway," Norris notes.

Lucas isn't so sure about his inspirations. "It's a completely mysterious where the songs come from," he says.

One of the songs, "Water, Wood, Corn," is a bourbon tribute, so that inspiration was concrete enough, Lucas notes.

"Practice sessions also are bourbon-tasting sessions," he explains. "And we taste commonwealth of Kentucky bourbon. And what makes bourbon special? Water, wood and corn."

Lucas pauses, then grins.

"I feel passionately about this song. It'd be a great song for Montgomery Gentry. They could burn this song up."

Raitiere, who is featured on mandolin in one of the songs, notes the blend of traditional mountain music and Delta blues is "what Mark and Mike do so well."

"It's what the band is all about," he adds.

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