Who knew where it would go when the three original musicians of the Blackboard Blues would regroup after a hiatus spent raising families and working as teachers.
Now they are looking forward to performing with the Joe Lowry and George Boone Bands at the July 5 Alive @5 concert sponsored by the Albany Downtown Business Improvement District.
According to guitarist Richard Clements, the event is a tribute to the late Ernie Williams, a renowned musician in the area. “Ernie was one of the first blues musicians I listened to,” he said. “He was that kind of guy…would shake your hand. Not only a great musician, but showman.”
He talks about the upcoming performance. He and fellow band members went into the contest of 13 participants with no great expectations. “We heard about it late, reading about it in Metroland.” Clements said. “We got word, and off we went!”
Band members include Rich Clements on guitar, Jay Tanzman on rhythm guitar, George Peck on harmonica, Ray Gargett on bass, and drummer Bill Sanson drummer. They originated in the Cobleskill area, and play local venues such as Locomotions Sports Bar, Fernando’s, Pin Head Susan’s in Schenectedy, and frequent clubs in Oneonta, Saratoga, and Albany.
“We do all our own booking, PR, and carry our equipment,” he added. “We play Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, and Eric Clapton.”
What makes the band stand out is their harmonies and the original music that Clements and Tanzman write. “We do a lot with our vocals, and really work on our harmonies,’ he added. “Jay and I write quite a bit and we put it out there. We have an approachable sound and people have a good time.”
The band’s first gig was for a teacher’s union meeting in the back room at Locomotions.
Owner Larry Schaffer speaks highly of the band members. “They are part of this community and a good bunch of guys, said Schaffer. “They know how to work a crowd and people don’t sit down. They are consistent and draw a great crowd. We always look forward to seeing them play here.”
The band is the opening act at the July 5th performance.
“We are playing with some great musicians. We follow both Joe and George and they are the ‘real deal’,” added Clements. ”We have a great time. We play music people can get up and dance to, and they have a good time.”