G. Busy and the Blues Revue have underground following and built-in mojo


Nearly a month after Pat Morley and G. Busy and the Blues Revue bandmates competed in the International Blues Challenge, he received an e-mail from a singer from the Long Island band Cadillac Moon. They'd met at the competition, held in Memphis the last weekend in January.

"She's had offered to put together some gigs for us in the Big Apple, if we got up there," Morley said. "I thought it was pretty cool that kind of support structure is out there for blue bands because we all know what we're up against."

Bass player Mike Anderson, of Mercer County, felt the love, too, when he was in Memphis. Said Morley, "Two weeks before we went down there, his bass was stolen and he had to borrow one."

Anderson bought a bass from a man who used to play guitar for Jerry Lee Lewis, he said. Added Morley, "He bought one in Memphis and first played it at B.B. King's Blues Club. It's got built-in mojo."


Morley, of Danville and a guitar player for the group, said his band and Cadillac Moon are going to "swap CDs" and see if they can set up some gigs in their areas for the other blues band. Those are the kind of relationships that were built during the IBC, where "everybody was digging on everybody's music," Morley noted.

In 13 venues, 97 acts competed for the winning spot. Morley says one winner was selected from each of the venues. G. Busy and the Blues Revue performed at B.B. King's Blues Club on Beale Street in Memphis. The group didn't win; "a band out of Boston nudged us out," Morley said. "They were so tough," he said.

Anderson concurred that the Matthew Stubbs Band was a good one.

"It was an honor to lose to such a band," Anderson said. "It was one of the best blues band I've every heard.

"We lost any idea of it being a competitive event because everybody was so supportive of everyone else."

Said Morley, "We went in with a competitive mind set, but when we left, it wasn't like that."

The music G. Busy and the Blues Revue played in Memphis primarily was original material, Morley said.

"Greg Thomerson is the songwriter for the band, and Lindsay Olive puts our music together and is our chief arranger," said Morley. "The tunes we played down there were mostly original, with a few covers."

The judges of the competition weighed criteria such as blues content, or usage of original blues tunes, originality and traditional blues as well as showmanship/stage presence.

"The more (a band) conformed to old blues, such as Chicago, Memphis and Delta blues, the better," Anderson said. "The judges looked at how traditional-sounding we were.

"In the blues field, there are so many songs that are untapped, going back to the '30s and '40s with (performers such as) Sleepy Estes and Lightnin' Hopkins."

In the '40s and '50s, Anderson said, blues were "getting electric and a lot of the blues people moved to Chicago."

"Then there were two veins (of blues) - the South Side, with performers such as Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, and the West Side, with Otis Rush and Buddy Guy."

In the 1970s, bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers incorporated blues influences into their sounds. "Then the blues kinda died out," Anderson noted.

In the mid-'80s, there was a resurgence of interest in the blues.

"There was a mini-explosion of new blues bands hitting the air waves," Anderson explained. "It peaked about 6 or 7 years ago. ... There are a few players going back and listening to the old guys."

There also were blues stars at the competition. Bluesman John Hammond was sighted, as was Kenny Neal, a renowned blues guitarist who played with Buddy Guy for years, Anderson said.

Group felt good about how it performed at International Blues Challenge

He said G. Busy and the Blues Revue played its best at the International Blues Challenge and felt good about how it performed. The competition was a positive experience for the band, Anderson said.

"The blues have an underground following unlike any other music form," he explained. "There was great music everywhere. ... There were a lot of great bands and a lot of great people."

Added Morley, "It was a player's heaven."

That aspect was a nice change because G. Busy and the Blues Revue has a hard time finding a supportive atmosphere in central Kentucky. Danville doesn't offer a venue in which the blues are featured, both Morley and Anderson said, and Lexington no longer has blues bars since Lynagh's and another one or two have closed. In Kentucky, G. Busy and the Blues Revue plays at Stevie Ray's in Louisville.

"The greatest thing I like about what we do is that no one is in it for the money," Anderson explained. "It's a brotherhood, a friendship like no other."

He said the band plays "jump blues," high-intensity, swing-like form of the blues.

"When we play, we try to get people up," Anderson explained. "Unfortunately, when most people hear 'blues band,' they think slow music. I bet we don't play three slow songs."

Even though the band has a gig nearly every weekend, the misconceptions about the blues can be tough to overcome, both Morley and Anderson said.

"We're not a request band," Anderson explained. "The following we get is versed in the style we play. We play in Lexington and people are offended because we don't play Steve Ray Vaughn.

"I wish people would open their minds. My music collection runs from Vivaldi to Frank Zappa. But if you're not country, metal or Top 40, around here, you're not working (a lot)."

But the love of the music keeps Anderson and Morley playing the blues.

"I approach it with such passion," said Anderson, as Morley nodded. "I love it so much."

That's part of why the competition was an all-around feel-good experience for both musicians.

"The greatest thing for me was I won the respect of my peers," said Anderson.

Added Morley, "It's like a guy at the Ponderosa Speedway getting in the Daytona 500 and placing in the top 10."

Central Kentucky News Articles