Lori Graboyes talking blues as part of Bluesdoodles USA
LG: I see Tony Braunagel produced another CD for you as well as drums on most tracks. How did your relationship with Tony come to be?
DR: I produced my debut record, “Might Just Get Lucky”, a labor of love, and a huge effort. I decided to get some help on the production of the next CD, so I booked a studio and hired several musicians to begin recording in 2014. I had engaged a producer who was recommended to me by some friends, and the first night of recording, had two tracks down. When we arrived home and listened, I had some pretty terrible tracks, and was really unhappy. The next day, I heard “Inside Out” by the Phantom Blues Band, and it had all the elements I wanted to capture on my next record, the live feel, the grease, the energy, and amazing musicianship. I put it on to play for my husband, and while he listened, he read the jacket to see who was on the record. He said he had met the drummer, Tony Braunagel, and contacted him about the possibility he would be our producer. Amazingly, at the same time, Tony was visiting his childhood friend in Houston, Steve Hunter, who was coincidentally also the current drummer in my band! Steve had just played my first record for Tony, and he really dug my voice and my blues! That same night, Tony called and offered to produce my next record, and the rest is history! It was meant to be!
LG: Of the 13 tracks on this CD how did the song Temporary Insanity come to you?
DR: Temporary Insanity is a fun track. The lyrics playfully speak of a strong physical attraction, which can never be acted on, but is still irresistible, which causes or can only be described as a state of temporary insanity! This is a high energy shuffle which features two guitars played by Kirk Fletcher and Johnny Lee Shell, who duel against each other throughout. This is intended to evoke the “back and forth” of losing ones emotional control, and grip on reality!
LG: Tell me about your songwriting process.
DR: My songwriting process is very eclectic. Songwriting for me is the most important part of my art. Sometimes I get a blues lick or a feel in my head that just will not go away, and I have to put lyrics to it. More often, I sit down and work the lyrics until I have a draft, and then the rhythm of the verse or the subject matter of the lyrics speak to the style of blues music I will arrange. Then there are times that I feel strongly about something and need to speak out about, social injustice, intolerance or world/human issues. The eclecticism comes in because I never hold rigidly to any set process, and my blues both lyrically and musically is drawn from many styles and flavors, a sort of blues patchwork quilt.
LG: How did you get your start in the business?
DR:As far back as I can remember, I have been a singer. My father was a well known vocalist in Chicago when I was a very young child. He played at all the happening clubs there, and many times brought me up on stage to perform a song with him. Later in my early teens, my mother and stepdad opened the biggest Rock and Blues bar in Los Angeles, the Topanga Corral. This is where I began at a young age writing and performing my own tunes, opening for and between sets for so many greats. I also sang many national commercials for television and radio, soundtracks for motion pictures and performed backgrounds on countless albums before I decided to make my own records, and launch my career as a blues artist.
LG: Who were some of your influences and why them?
DR: My main influences were all artists who I came to know as a result of the Corral and living in Topanga Canyon. During my teens, Etta James, Taj Mahal, Big Joe Turner, Spirit, Canned Heat, James Harman, Neil Young and so many more played there regularly. I was “the kid”, and since my step dad owned the club, I got to open for all of them. Many kindly mentored me on my vocals and writing and others introduced me to their extensive knowledge of blues music through their collections of early recordings.
LG: You are 12 years old, singing into your hairbrush, who were you?
DR: I actually sang into a carrot instead of a hairbrush haha! At twelve, I had an after-school job mucking out the horse stalls at the Buffalo Springfield Ranch in Old Topanga Canyon. If I got my work done quickly, I was allowed to jam on the front porch with the guys in the band. So many artists came by, but none affected me more than Joni Mitchell! I would have to say at twelve, I was Joni.
LG: What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
DR: I am currently obsessed with surf fishing and world travel! I am involved in the restoration of a 1957 GMC pickup truck. I study alternative energy sources and water conservation. My apple pie won a blue ribbon at a State Fair. I sang Opera and performed at The Marc Taper Forum.
LG: Was there ever a moment that you thought of calling it quits?
DR: Hahaha! Probably weekly! It is a tough business. But then I shake it off and get with it! Someone we all know and love in the genre reminded me once that this is a marathon not a sprint. What you put in is what you get back, and just know that your time will come!
LG: What were some of your favorite gigs?
DR: I love anytime I get to perform in Europe, the theaters, the twelfth and thirteenth century Maisons, festivals and clubs are such a rare treat. The audiences absolutely love the blues and are so enthusiastic
LG: How did the title of this CD come to you?
DR: All my record titles have come from a track on the record. Usually, I list three of my favorite tracks and then run the titles by my producer, and players, and then we democratically decide. This time we included my label VizzTone Records in the decision process. In the case of Enjoy The Ride, I had an idea for the cover art which made everyone lean towards that title. Plus, I love that track!
LG: What inspires you?
DR: I find musical inspiration everywhere! I listen to and study the blues daily, and am equally inspired by those who came before as well as the latest sounds in contemporary blues. I can find inspiration for my song writing in a news story, but most of my work is drawn from personal experience or the experiences of friends and family. The key is to keep your heart and mind open and the inspiration will come.
LG: What age were you when that first song tickled your ear and you knew you wanted to do this forever.
DR: Probably around the age of eleven. At that same time, I taught myself to play guitar and actually learned some of the popular tunes on the radio. I will never forget writing my first song called “Grapes Of Wrath”, a political protest song about the plight of the migrant farm worker and Delano which I performed at a small rally, actually my very first gig.
Deb Ryder’s Enjoy The Ride can be purchased/listened to but following links below: