Questions for Altered Five Blues Band
Blues Bytes magazine says the band boasts “the funkiest rhythm section outside of Memphis.”
Altered Five Blues Band, proclaimed “a staple of the Midwest’s band scene” and “a festival favorite” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2012, will be performing tomorrow evening at Jazz in the Park.
The quintet formed in 2002 and signed a recording contract with Minneapolis blues label Cold Wind Records in 2008. Since then, the band has gained national attention, has produced three albums getting strong reviews, performed live on three television morning shows and won various awards including “Blues Artist of the Year” at the 2014 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Award Show.
Since its release in October of 2014, the group’s third album, Cryin’ Mercy, reached #3 in the iTunes blues store, hit #1 on the Roots Music Report radio chart, won “Best Self-Released CD” at the 2015 International Blues Challenge and won five different nominations at the 2015 WAMI Award Show including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year (“Find My Wings”). The songs “Demon Woman” and “Move House” from the album made it to the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition.
Jeff Taylor, the band’s lead singer, provides vocals described by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as “gloriously gritty,” and by the Shepherd Express as sounding like “a voice from Stax/Volt 45s.” Jeff Schroedl’s “high-wire guitar reaches the high bar of mixed invention and fluidity,” according to Downbeat magazine. The rhythm section, composed of drummer Scott Schroedl and bassist Mark Solveson, has been described by Blues Bytes magazine as “the funkiest rhythm section outside of Memphis.” Keyboardist Raymond Tevich helps keep the groove together.
The band will be performing this Thursday at 6 p.m. at Cathedral Square Park. Jeff Schroedl responded to our questions via email.
How did you get your start in music?
All five of us have been performing music since we were teenagers. Collectively, we have a lot of diversity in our backgrounds and we’ve used that to our advantage in carving out a unique contemporary blues sound. Our singer, Jeff Taylor, played trumpet in college and also taught piano. Guitarist Jeff Schroedl and bassist Mark Solveson use to play traditional jazz gigs together before getting into blues and forming the Altered Five Blues Band. Scott and Raymond also bring unique experiences and ideas to the group, whether it’s rock, funk or fusion. It’s the sum of those parts that form our sound.
How did you get involved in Jazz in the Park and what do you like about performing there?
This will be our first time performing at the event.
How would you describe your style of music?
We’re a contemporary blues group. We infuse elements of soul, rock, and jazz, but it’s all grounded in the blues, musically and lyrically.
How do you try to connect to and work the audience?
The blues is a feeling that’s conveyed through rhythm, groove, and lyrics. The form might be simple but the music is deceptively sophisticated. The bending of pitches between major and minor, vocally and instrumentally, give the blues its passionate sound and it’s that “crying” that often connects with the audience. Good blues lyrics also make people smile and feel good. We know it’s working when people are moving and grooving with the music.
What is your favorite thing to see in the audience while you are on stage?
We always appreciate seeing people sing along with the lyrics of our original tunes. That’s a connection that’s second to none.
What drew you to blues music?
There’s a genuine, soulful feel to the music. Blues has the improvisational elements of jazz combined with the power and groove of rock. Everyone can relate to it, and if played well, it makes you feel good!
Where are you performing next/ where can people see you?
You can find our complete schedule on our website.
What is your favorite song that you perform and why?
Naturally, we’re playing a lot of songs from our latest album called Cryin’ Mercy. The song “I’m in Deep” from that record always gets a good response from the crowd and sums out our sound and style very well. Here’s a link to it.