In 2013, four folks decided to get together and play some hard driving, whiskey reeling, dirty, and raunchy blues rock. With Nathan Singer on vocals and guitar, Aaron Tyree on drums, Brother James on Bass and harmonica, and the vocals of LaTanya Foster they put all of that together and became The Whiskey Shambles. I had the pleasure of speaking with Brother James about the new record they are releasing called Loose Change for A Broken Man. Through this conversation I found this band to be an honest reflection of just who they are. It took some time to get where they are now, as with most bands, but as the practices and rehearsals kept shaping themselves the band was beginning to transform the sound in their head and put it out on their instruments.
When they first got together back in November of 2012 it was just Nathan, Aaron, and James. Nathan and Aaron have been good friends for a long while, and James and Nathan back in 2008 tried putting a project together but it didn’t work out. They kept up a dialogue on and off for three years until one day in 2011 when Nathan was out walking the neighborhood with his family, and James rolled up on him in a car. James asked if Nathan was still interested in the heavy blues project, Nathan said yep and then they began a year of meetings “over drinks, or lunch and drinks, or dinner and drinks, or at least drinks, yeah lotsa whiskey,” according to James. After a year of that, they motivated themselves by scheduling a gig about a month out. Nathan grabbed his old pal Aaron to play drums, and The Whiskey Shambles where born. There was still one member left to add though. They went into a hibernation for the winter. They holed themselves up in a studio working on the rest of the album, and started recording in April 2013. In June of that year LaTanya Foster, a friend of Nathan’s since high school, was asked to do some back-up vocals, they loved what she brought to the band, and immediately asked her to do more songs which eventually evolved into where they are now as The Whiskey Shambles.
Loose Change for a Broken Man is the album they will be releasing this Saturday night, and it was an enjoyable listen. At times heavy but not over bearing with a few songs mixed in there where it is just Nathan and an acoustic guitar. I took a drive with the album playing in my car. The songs are what they have set out to do, play dirty, raunchy, blues/rock, with vocals from both LaTanya and Nathan that wrap the songs all up. The closing track on the album is indicative of what they were setting out to do, and what they have accomplished. With the addition of LT’s vocals and a harmonica there you have Loose Change for a Broken Man.
What is coming up for the Shambles? James told me this, “Back in April The Shambles won the Northeast Ohio Blues Association’s Blues Challenge, so we’ll be going to Memphis in January to compete at the International Blues Challenge for a week. We’ve also been selected to showcase at the Millenium Music Conference near Philly (kind of an east – coast SXSW) in late February. We’re headed to Chicago for some dates in December, and Akron, OH in January. We’ll also be at the Winter Blues Fest in Cincinnati in early February”.
Couple all of this with the release of their album on Saturday at The Drinkery and excitement would be an understatement.
As I do with everyone I closed my conversation with James by asking him (and I had him ask the rest of the band), why music? Of all things to do why this? And here are their answers:
Brother James: Music is in my DNA. It is a natural part of everything I do. I always have a soundtrack running through my mind while doing most things, or when thinking about future projects/ideas. And being exposed to music so extensively from an early age, being encouraged to perform both music and in theatre, I can’t imagine NOT doing it. It keeps me alive.
Aaron Tyree: Why music? Because no matter how often I may want to hang it up, I always come back to her. I never feel prepared, I never feel well-rehearsed, and I never feel as if I’ve done all I can to be worthy, but when it comes down to it, when I’m on stage or playing in someone’s basement and the volume is up and the lights are low, it just washes over me and like a strong tide just takes me out to open sea where I’m immersed in the sound and the beauty that comes from a bunch of people just opening themselves up (for) the experience. I just love it.
LaTanya Foster: It makes the world go around! You can be an actor, you can be an actress, you can be a brand new person in a brand new you on stage all while singing or playing or doing whatever you do musically.
The Whiskey Shambles will be playing The Drinkery this Saturday the 15th of November. The album will be available and the evening will benefit Save the Animals Foundation, a no kill animal shelter. The event will include JetLab (to open the show) and singers from MUSE (Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir) and YPCC (Young Professionals Choral Collective) will join The Shambles on a few songs. Head on over to The Drinkery Saturday night for what will surely be a fun, raunchy and bluesy evening with The Shambles and some friends.