Adventures in Bluesland


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Adventures in Bluesland feature the original songs of native Texan Phil Gammage (lead vocals, guitar, blues harp) as well as a diverse selection of classic covers. Joining Phil are some of New York’s finest musicians – Kevin Tooley (drums, vocals); Johnny Cement (bass); Robert Aaron (sax, keyboards); and often special guest performers. Adventures in Bluesland is based in New York and perform at numerous venues throughout the northeast United States.

frontcov_marilynwebCDBABYAn explosive and dynamic force of musical nature, Adventures in Bluesland began their journey as an acoustic trio put together in late 2013 by Phil Gammage (vocals, guitar, harmonica, songwriting) to promote and support his most recent solo album. Over the next few months new players were added to the mix and Gammage began to realize that the group had a remarkable chemistry that was something special. The name the group was using “Phil Gammage Trio” was dropped and they were soon renamed after the title of Phil’s solo album Adventures in Bluesland. Soon after that, the group began touring America’s East Coast while garnering significant fan support and critical praise.

Adventures in Bluesland’s debut album is The American Dream. It features eleven songs: nine written by Gammage plus the band’s renditions of two early 19th century songs, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “One Kind Favor” aka “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” and Geechie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues.” Since coming together, the group has created a sound that is built upon taking traditional roots music and playing it in their own unique style. Their music swings, it rocks, it boogies, and it conjures ghosts of our country’s past like no other music you’ve ever heard. It is about exploring what is at the heart of the American music experience.

Driven by the vocals and songs of native Texan Phil Gammage, the New York City based band — whose current lineup includes Don Fiorino (lap steel guitar), Johnny Cement (bass), Robert Aaron (saxophone, keyboards), and Kevin Tooley (drums) — have been performing extensively in the past year as they made trips to the recording studio to complete the new album. Music audiences got a first taste of the band’s recordings with their debut single “Ruler of My Heart”.

While the band itself is relatively new, the collective works of this group of musicians is not. They have all played and recorded together in numerous combinations in the past as session and touring musicians. Their resumes are impressive and include working with a diverse range of artists including David Bowie, Julee Cruise, John Cale, Melissa Etheridge, and others. In live performance, Adventures in Bluesland are an ever-shifting combination of incredible musicianship and kinetic dynamics between the players. For their audience, the interplay between the musicians is a one-of-a-kind experience.

“The songs on The American Dream explore several traditional American music forms and we never hesitated to expand those ideas and take it in our own different direction if we felt it worked. The result is something new and fresh that looks forward to the future while using the past as a foundation. By deconstructing the music and rebuilding it, we’ve reinvented a music and art form from yesteryear that is different, current, and totally our own.” says Gammage. “Our backgrounds are jazz, rock, blues, and swing,” he continues. “We didn’t approach the sessions with any preconceived ideas of what the music should or shouldn’t be or how it should sound, we chose to trust our instincts and let that define itself as recording of the album progressed. Adventures in Bluesland is about musical freedom and that comes through in a strong way on these songs. This isn’t singer-songwriter ultra-structured etched-in-stone over-rehearsed music… it’s about artists playing off each other, creating a fluid dynamic between themselves, and not being afraid to cut loose and take chances. When we play these songs in concert they have a life of their own and they are never the same from performance to performance. That’s what makes them so great to play.”

Phil adds “I built the lyrics I wrote around the blues and its themes. A few songs are like novellas, three verses in three minutes and then you’re out of there. For a songwriter that’s always a great challenge — to be that concise and to the point with your words. There is some reference to history too. Not the history they teach us in school, but history that often falls through the cracks and doesn’t get discussed.” For Gammage, The American Dream is a culmination of several years dedicated to the craft of songwriting and playing music. “Sometimes when jamming in an informal setting you get a sense of music’s potential and possibilities and it was like I was hit with a thunderbolt the first time we were all in the same room playing together. I knew then and there that what was going on musically was very special. It is fortunate that we were able to record The American Dream and share our music with the world.”

Long-time Gammage colleague Kevin Tooley returns to produce and play drums on The American Dream. Upon listening the high quality of his production work speaks for itself. The recordings have a vitality and energy that captures each song’s true essence.

Phil Gammage has an extensive discography of solo albums and his two landmark albums Night Train (1991) and Kneel to the Rising Sun (1992) on France’s legendary New Rose Records helped define and create the music genre that has come to be known in the subsequent years as Americana. His most recent solo album made numerous ‘Best album of 2014’ lists internationally and received radio airplay throughout Europe and the U.S.


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