Spies, friends to offer up some instrumental jams
Mobile’s most prominent hired gun will be taking time out of his busy schedule to entertain the denizens of the SouthSounds Music Festival. Keyboardist Chris Spies has been a constant in the Mobile music scene for many years.
Over that time, local music lovers has seen him perform with local musical acts such as Haere Marue, Chifauco, DJ Trey Stein and Lee Yankee & the Hellz Yeah. He was a member of the legendary group Kung Fu Mama, and he has performed with national acts such as Grayson Capps & the Lost Cause Minstrels, Skip Heller, Col. Bruce Hampton and Papa Mali.
On top of all his collaborations, Spies has released a solo effort called “Confessions of a Kung-Fu Mama,” which features his collection of his “Interstellar Trailer Park Jazz.” This keyboard wizard is also one of the creative forces behind the highly popular “Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas” and the annual “John Coltrane Christmas Party.”
Therefore, the SouthSounds organizers found it only natural that Spies represents the Azalea City at this year’s festival, and he is excited to be a participant.
“I think it’s great,” Spies said. “Bands don’t get to see other bands all the time, and this is a good way to see who all is out there. That’s what I’m excited about. I get to see other bands going around and doing the same thing.”
Ever the workaholic, this keyboardist has been busy working as a session musician and completing his next solo effort. Spies is calling this album “Super White Boy Deluxe.” This album has been in the creative process for quite some time. His work schedule and brief relocations have hindered the album’s completion. However, Spies has constructed a home studio, and progress on “Super White Boy Deluxe” has increased.
Spies has recruited drummer Doug Belote (Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Ramsey Lewis) to lay down the rhythm for this project. At this point, Spies is “cleaning up the vault of old songs” and organizing new songs to include on the album. He has also been gathering notable musicians to appear on the album.
“I’ve been going around collecting guest spots from people like Papa Mali, Oliver Wood, Col. Bruce and finishing up like that,” Spies said.
When his group was added to the SouthSounds line-up, it was originally the Chris Spies Organ Trio Plus One. Since then, the group has changed to the Chris Spies Organ Trio Plus Two. Spies will be joined by drummer John Milham, Japanese guitarist Seizo Shibayama and Cuban percussionist Andy William. Together, they will entertain the Alchemy crowd with a set of instrumental jams.
In addition to his performance at Alchemy, there is a possibility that Spies may sit in with some of the other bands performing at SouthSounds. However, random sit-ins for Spies are not as easy as it is for other musicians, but he will be catching as many bands as he can.
“It’s not like a guitar,” Spies said. “I can’t bring a B3 and play. I’m looking at the venue and the artists and thinking about that actually. If they don’t already have a keyboard set-up, then they probably won’t have the room. I’m definitely going to be making the rounds and checking out some people.”
Chris Spies Organ Trio Plus Two
Date: Saturday, April 12, from 11:15 p.m.-midnight
Venue: Alchemy Tavern, 7 S. Joachim St., 251-441-7741
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