Take heart, you
Eminems and Marilyn Mansons of the world. If you're feeling down
just because your music is described as something so volatile it's
going to destroy civilization, it's nothing new.
All throughout history, any major departure from the musical
mainstream has met with a certain amount of bombastic comments from
certain segments of society. Bluesman Ivan Fowler understands that.
He and his Terraplane Blues Band play music that was once deemed
"Blues came out of gospel," Fowler said. "When the old black guys
in church were supposedly singing 'the devil's music,' they were
singing the blues. They were taking the gospel feeling and putting
it into everyday-life music. The blues is basically a reflection of
life, whether it be good or bad. The nice thing about jump blues is
that it's real catchy. It swings."
Fowler has performed jump blues -- a dancing blues style that was
the precursor to rock 'n' roll -- with Terraplane since 1992. The
band's name came from Roy Rogers' version of blues godfather Robert
Johnson's Terraplane Blues. Each of the band members brings a
little different take on the music, be it a New Orleans flair,
rockin' Texas sound or Chicago beat. Fowler said they take all those
styles and mix a little bit of the Florida flavor in.
"We just seem to click together on this kind of music and enjoy
it," Fowler said. "We toured for many years, opened for some big
acts and played Springing the Blues in Jax Beach several times, plus
a lot of other concerts primarily around the Southeast."
the Blues organizer and producer Sam Veal said Terraplane has never
failed to put on a good show in its numerous festival appearances.
He called them a terrific regional band that finds creative ways to
reinvent the blues.
The Terraplane Blues Band Trio performs Sunday at the
Ragtime Tavern, Seafood & Grill, 207 Atlantic Blvd., at 7
p.m. For more information, call 241-7877.
"What distinguishes them from other blues bands is their
particular style, their knack of being able to not only put their
own twist on blues standards, but some of their original works as
well," Veal said. "Their songs have a unique style to them; that
sets them apart."
As far as the audiences Terraplane has found in its Beaches
appearances, Fowler said he's seen a good appreciation of the music,
something that spans all ages. He likened the Beaches audiences to
what he's seen in New Orleans, just on a smaller level.
"I just got back from New Orleans and of course New Orleans is
the Mecca for music," Fowler said. "The city, [music is] what it's
all about and it's so wonderful. It was just a power boost for me, a
shot in the arm musically. People are just very uninhibited in New
Orleans. You start playing and they start dancing. It's great and
they love it. They don't care."
Five years ago, Fowler formed a trio version of the Terraplane
band, featuring himself on guitar, Ron Anton on harmonica and guitar
and Johnny Binello on guitarron, a large acoustic bass guitar, best
known for its use by Mexican mariachis. The Terraplane Trio performs
Sunday at the Ragtime Tavern, Seafood & Grill.
"There were venues where we played or wanted to play that wanted
a smaller group on less busy days and it worked out real well,"
Fowler said. "The trio can be any combination of the five-piece
group, but this lineup is generally a pretty popular group. It's
different in that it's more acoustical. It's got a very nice flavor;
not having a drummer, it allows you do certain things, but also, the
percussiveness of this particular kind of bass that John plays
almost makes up for a drummer."
With the trio's performing on Mother's Day, Fowler said he's
hard-pressed to think of any mother-flavored songs for the occasion.
He said the group usually gets odd requests, be it for country or
pop tunes they just don't do. When the band can't accommodate a
listener, Fowler said, they'll try to convert them.
"The thing is there's so much good blues music that a lot of
people haven't been exposed to," he said. "So what we try to do is
we do songs that we've heard, great songs that may be obscure or
haven't gotten much airplay, and try and expose people to music they
haven't heard, rather than giving more of what they can hear all the
time anyway. I feel if you take good music and present it well, it's
going to be appreciated."