When the term “blues music” gets thrown around, many people think of the electric guitar, but to drummer David E. Jackson and bassist Matt Bragg, the principal duo behind blues ensemble L.A. Big Daddy’s, it’s far more than that. Leading a rotating roster of bandmates, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg are bringing L.A. Big Daddy’s to the Carrillo Recreation Center to perform for the Santa Barbara Blues Society on November 16. Promoting the band’s 2018 release “Rock Your Blues Away,” the performance will also be the band’s first-ever show in Santa Barbara.
Discussing their long history and musical philosophy in an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg both called L.A. Big Daddy’s the “crowning achievement” of their musical careers. With this project, the duo aims to bring a soulful, “full band sound” complete with keys, horn sections, and singers to blues music like the genre’s early practitioners. In Mr. Jackson’s opinion, blues music is now more often than not associated with nothing but a particular, stripped-back electric guitar sound, a sound that he considers to be “not that musical.” By contrast, he recalled the music he and Mr. Bragg played when touring with the late blues and soul singer Sista Monica Parker.
“It was driven by the musicality of the band, not just one lead instrument,” Mr. Jackson said.
According to the band’s website, the central duo’s tour with Ms. Parker in 2007 is what ultimately invigorated Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg’s passion for blues music to the point they decided to start what would eventually become the L.A. Big Daddy’s project. In the winter of 2015, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg laid down the initial rhythm tracks for the “Rock Your Blues Away” album and finished the record in October 2017. During the two years it took them to make the album, they also had to form a publishing entity, secure necessary copyrights, and form a record company. While this took a lot of time, Mr. Jackson said the actual making of the record had no record company drama and proceeded at a pace that allowed him and Mr. Bragg to get the music right.
“To present the art form and present it with a modern touch, we had to take our time… With the good lord’s help I think it turned out well,” Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Bragg concurred with his bandmate that L.A. Big Daddy’s long creative process leading up to the release of “Rock Your Blues Away” was worthwhile.
“This project ranks pretty high with me because we’ve lined up all the ducks in a row better than we have before… It’s been a process, but it’s been worth the effort,” he said.
A large part of the process’ enjoyment came from working with fellow musician friends like guitarist Craig T. Cooper, saxophonist Donald Hayes, vocalist Ernie Johnson, and L.A. Big Daddy’s musical director and keyboard player Norman Williams. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg’s history together goes back about 48 years and they’ve known Mr. Williams for that entire time. As Mr. Bragg recalled, the three of them met during grade school, where he was the same year as Mr. Jackson’s and Mr. Williams’ older brothers.
When asked about their favorite song from “Rock Your Blues Away,” both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Bragg named the album’s title track. The former praised its lyric’s story about having to get up for another day of hard work, which he described as “relatable whether you’ve got dough or not.” Mr. Bragg likes the song’s groove.
“It’s got a groove that’s hard to deny,” he said.
In addition to the “Rock Your Blues Away” numbers, L.A. Big Daddy’s November 16 concert may also consist of new material depending on how far Mr. Jackson, Mr. Bragg, and their bandmates get through them in rehearsals. On the night of the concert, doors to the Carrillo Recreation Center will open at 7 p.m. and the evening will begin with a half-hour opening performance from Kenny Sultan and Tina Dabby at 7:15 p.m. L.A. Big Daddy’s will begin performing at 8 p.m.Concert tickets can be purchased online at www.sbblues.org and the Carrillo Recreation Center is located at 100 E Carrillo St.