Jerry Forney - Guitar and vocals
Doug Ward - Bass
Kevin Kelmel - Drums
Wilber May - Drums
Mike Murphy - Rhythm guitar
Chili Squella - Harp
For Bluesman Jerry Forney, no recording can quite capture the sound of his band's live sound. But you wouldn't know that by hearing the Jerry Forney Blues Band's latest CD, "POOR BOY BLUES". "We've yet to record an album that sounds like us when we perform," he says. "It's just an indescribable thing that happens live, that the people create."
Forney, has had plenty of experience in front of audiences; he got started in music early, learning to play guitar well enough to start performing before he was even old enough to drive. "My first gig, my Mother had to haul us in a station wagon, because no one in the band had a license," he laughs. After graduating from high school, Forney moved to Nashville to work as a sideman for other artists, including the great Charlie Rich.
While there, cutting a CD with his Nashville band. "The Forney Brothers", recorded in 1979, was Jerry's first recording. The Nashville Tennessean quoted, "The album retains the live feel of seasoned players!" Austin, Texas, was Jerry's next move where he began working with many other artists and doing his own thing. He recorded his own style of blues with the album "Jerry and the Juke Jiants" while working all the clubs from Antone's to the Kerrville Folk Festival.
A classic Gibson Lucile with a custom guitar strap reading ‘Jerry Forney' fits the man as naturally as his full black outfit and bowler hat. Jerry Forney is the real deal: an authentic bluesman, a pedal steel legend, a treasure to St. Joseph, a ‘sultan of swing, yeah he knows all chords', and he's a bit of a character too.
He has such a warm guitar sound where notes seem to bubble out of his amplifier sustained by a secret delay. Every note is chosen with tender consideration in a luxurious leather-tone, thumbed in classy Wes Montgomery octaves, or triple-stopped with masterful combined use of fingering and guitar pick. I find Forney to be one of the most tasteful players around: comping colorful and clever chord voicings with mature melodic music-making during solo sections..
Jerry's Sunday blues show at the Ground Round on Belt and Fredrick has been consistently good for longer than I know, and last Sunday was exceptionally solid. The band usually includes Doug Ward on 5 string bass, and Wilbur on drums with Chili on the mouth-harp, and the evening could also bring in special guests. The musicians are incredible, and the sound doesn't overwhelm the space (though' they did get louder with a new PA).
Chris Moore (drummer for Charlie and the Stingrays) and Mike Huffer (piano extraordinaire and fearless bassist, wielding a seafoam longhorn Danelectro) joined Jerry for Leon Russell's Masquerade . The smooth R&B tune was intricate and beautiful; morphing into funk, it was one of the evening's highlights –nice harmonica solo, Chili.
Forney truly has fun when he performs, it is entertaining to catch his grins, and the tight shuffles grooves incite dancing in the little space the Ground Round provides. I was surprised to hear a reggae tune and Forney's playful use of feedback: even happening upon a major7th that rang out at the end of a tune. The show brought out some true blues tunes, folk-country ballads, and smooth grooves, early rock hits, and infectious shuffles.
I believe visiting the Forney blues show is one of the best ways to spend a Sunday night in Joe-town; you can catch him between 8:00 and 11PM at the Ground Round.
Jerry Forney Band review by Colby Walter