Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Memphis Music: Eric Hughes Band

I had only photographed for Radio-Memphis one month when Mr. Eric Hughes came to the studio to be interviewed in May of 2013. He was standing on the street, in front of the studio, smoking a cigarette. As I approached Mr. Eric, who was speaking with an on-air personality, reaches out his hand, "Miss Averill, it is a pleasure to meet you."

I had not introduced myself. I never even said my name. Yet, he said it correctly. That is huge! 

In that moment, I knew he was different from any musician I had been introduced to before. He was not just networking; he took the time to remember my name. That is genuine. He impressed me.

Through meeting him a dozen times, since May, I have learned Eric is more than genuine. He is a gentleman, grateful, humble, and one helluva talented musician. Eric has proven my intuition correct and at every show he and his band, Walter, Leo, and Brian, exceed all previous expectations. They set and continuously raise the bar for a damn good Blues show.  

In 2013, The Ground Zero Blues Club invited Eric Hughes Band to play every Friday the 13th. Upon Mr. Eric's invitation, on the final Friday 13th of the year Jeff Janovetz, cohost of Booze & Blues on Radio Memphis, and I make the hour and a half drive from Memphis to Clarksdale, MS.  

If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing the Eric Hughes Band you are truly missing out. The guys confidently blend the soothing bass lines of Leo Goff, strong rock rifts of Walter Hughes' guitar, "The Hitman" J. Brian Aylor's kicking jazz drums beats combined with the harmonizing vocals of Eric's soulful voice, harp, and resonator guitar. The culmination results in a tightly fused, incomparable, explosive sound that is known around the world exclusively as Memphis Blues.

The stylings of the Eric Hughes Band will get your legs to stomping and feet to jumping on those Mississippi Hill Country Blues tunes. Before you know it their style changes to an epic Big Band Blues party anthem "Drink Up!" Miss Donna, the ultimate hostess and Eric's wife, will grab your hand, leading you out to wear down the wood on the dance floor with strangers you will soon be calling friends. This band throws a damn good party! 

In the shadows, Mrs. Carolyn T. Hughes cuts a rug to the music of her sons.

Eric Hughes live at the Ground Zero Blues Club.
Walter Hughes plays with his pick clasped in between his lips.

The smoke from Eric's cigarette twists to the words he sings.

Leo Goff creates dynamic bass lines to be heard and felt.

Eric singing through the harmonica microphone.

The crowd got up to dance the night away.  A stranger said, "Hey, take my picture, dancing!"

Walter from stage left with Eric and Leo in the background.
The lovely ladies, Ann Rice and Babs Sater, pause from dancing.

The Hitman keeping it tight behind the drums.

Walter Hughes catching the sweet spot.
A view of Eric Hughes Band from the sound booth in the world renown Ground Zero Blues Club.

This year, Ground Zero Blues Club has invited The Eric Hughes Band to play every other month. They will playing Ground Zero again on April 19, 2014. Or, check them out prior to this weekend by visiting their website.  

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