Bluesdoodles In conversation with Reese Wynans

Discussing Solo Album Sweet Release, songs and friends.

Bluesdoodles chatted to Reese Wynans, keyboard extraordinaire, the player who has come to many blues fans attention as part of Joe Bonamassa’s band. Reese has been adding that extra layer of tones and textures via his keyboard via the early days as a nucleus of the Allman Brothers Band, his marvellous sound on Piano and B3 throughout the 80’s and beyond, encompassing on stage including around 500 shows with Willie Nelson and in the recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Larry Carlton, Joe Ely, Hank Williams Jr., Buddy Guy – and many more.
Now we have his first solo album Sweet Release where Reese is joined by friends from across the music scene and produced by Joe Bonamassa.

BD: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to me today.

BD: Before we talk about your first solo album lets go back to the beginning what music inspired you and led you to sitting behind the keys?

RW: My first Rock n’ Roll gig was Jerry Lee Lewis when I was 13 years old when he played Saratosa Armoury on 4th July our National Birthday. There he was on stage playing wild piano fire crackers were going off at the back of the hall and he played Great Balls Of Fire. It moved me I had never heard anything like this before. When I got the chance to play music in a band later on it would be the keys. I discovered Soul music which I love, I love the groove the keys add to the music. I love playing music in a small ensemble. I like to listen to all kinds of music, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Doors, Kinks I love to play all types of music. Lots of people wish they could play music. They come to hear music I appreciate the people who listen to music that it inspires them they get something out of it, as they enjoy the sound and feel inspired.

BD: What do you feel the keys bring to music whether it is Blues, Rock or Country or any other genre?

RW: There are different types of keys that are used in different styles. The piano is heard in Country, early Rock n’ Roll and New Orleans. In blues, Johnnie Johnson tinkled above a great piano player who filled in Muddy Waters sound as did Otis Span & Pinetop Perkins playing the piano on seminal blues guitar work. It has always been there. There are not a lot of blues organists, lots of Jazz organists and Hammond in Soul. I wanted to bring the Hammond into the Blues. With this path, I have carved a niche with the Hammond.

BD: Sweet Release is your first solo album, and you have bought a lot of friends to the party. What is the meaning behind the title track?

RW:There were lots of different meanings of Sweet Release. The joy of finding release, release from hurt and pain. This is a track from Boz Scaggs early days, I always loved the track. Loved playing Sweet Release it moved me, it is a track no one ever covers.  My producer Joe Bonamassa had doubts, but I was determined to cover this number and make it special. It was Joe’s idea to have different people singing BD: Yes, listening it is ‘name that voice’, but it works. RW: It was wonderful at the end and so glad that the great singer Mike Farris, his latest album Silver in Stone I recommend you check it out.

BD:  How did you choose the tracks on Sweet Release do they reflect your influences and your musical journey?

RW: It was not easy to do I knew I wanted a Stevie Ray Vaughan number with original Double Trouble Rhythm section, Tommy & Chris with Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar we ended up doing three SRV numbers.

Some tracks stand out or are not covered often. Like Willie Mitchell’s That Driving Beat, Vaughan Brothers, Hard To Be. I want to include an Otis Rush song and Doyle singing You’re Killing My Love works so well. I have always been into the Blues. Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker), there’s a couple of his, he influenced so many blues guys in Chicago.

BD: You have lots of friends playing and a variation of guitar players, vocalists, drums and bassists.  Was it a difficult task deciding who to play on what tracks?

RW: I decided that I would use three different Rhythm Sections that suited the songs. For SRV the original rhythm section, Michael Rhodes & Greg Morrow, Sweet Release, That Driving Beat, Take The Time, Hard To Be. Then, Travis Carter & Lamar Carter, You’re Killing My Love & Soul Island. It was easy to decide the Rhythm section tougher to decide on the guitar player and singers. KWS for SRV was easy and Doyle to sing the Otis number. Guitarist & my producer on the album Joe Bonamassa plus Josh Smith and Jack Pearson. With the horn section and backing vocals members of Joe’s band.

BD: With two instrumentals on the album a re-arrangement of SRV’s Riviera Paradise now we have keys in control. Then The Beatles, Blackbird stripped of lyrics and you on the Grand Piano closing the album with sweet simplicity? These highlight that for a change the guitar takes second place across the album. How exciting was it to have the keys taking the lead?

RW: The scariest song on the record was Riviera Paradise. It was re-arranged for the organ to take the lead across the orchestration replacing the guitar. Everyone should play that song. Stevie did a beautiful job it is a great song. KWS and Joe B I think come across as a beautiful job on this arrangement. I don’t sing I play songs on the piano when I sit down alone. This is one of the songs I play (Blackbird) it is nice to hear and play simply, imagine the song, the lyrics are what is driving you to be free. Blackbird singing yearning capturing that feeling of sadness and freedom. It seemed the perfect way of closing Sweet Release.

BD: Final question, a new one for 2019.  Your house is on fire you can only save three albums what would they be?

RW: That is a tough question!

Dave Matthews Band One of their albums

Stevie Ray Vaughn – Double Trouble

Jimi Smith – Walk On The Wildside the best Organ Solo ever!

BD:  Thank you for your time and insights into making your debut Solo Album Sweet Release  – Out 1st March 2019 on Mascot Label Group

Bluesdoodles In conversation with Reese Wynans

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