Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dee Curtis--One of America's Most Humble Bluesmen--CD Review And A Story About Playing With John Lee Hooker

By Mark Grove

Back Catalog Article

Two Articles Combined




Good Friend and ex-Canadian based frontman for The Dee Curtis Trio has been honing his blues craft back home in Detroit for over the last two years. This singer/Guitarist as he likes to be known as, is going to finally come out with a CD of some brand new, and old material done with Musicians Dee has waited along time to play with.

This includes keyboardist and Dee's brother, Vincent. The first track "Red House” Mixdown" is belted out with a solid backing of walking bass lines and Dee's attention to taking his voice to new heights. The inclusion of Vincent on keyboard's adds a smooth harmonic element to Red House, and as a result gives it a new melodic twist.

"You been Had" is an instrumental taken from Dee's old days with, Thee Horizon in Canada. Dee has literally fused this track into an R&B track laced with definite Jazz leanings, and believe it or not, just a small presence of rock in this mix.

This last track "Carribia's Dream," is an electronic based Guitar instrumental, that I did like, but felt it would have gone over better with drums or bass included to hold the fort down on the rhythm. Look for Dee playing in Michigan and Southern Canada in the new year, along with a new CD to boot. As well, Dee will still be a senior adviser to Canadian Guitar Player.


Dee's guitar and amp rig will be in a future article.
Mark Grove-CGPM

Canadian Guitar Player Magazine—

Dee Curtis -- A Look Back at John Lee Hooker
By Mark Grove (A Back issue Article)

Dee Curtis is one of the USA’s strongest rhythm guitar players, and originally from Detroit. Dee is well known as an R&B artist when he was an up and coming touring musician in the 70’s and 80’s. One of Dee's closest friends and fellow musicians was one of John Lee Hookers son's and quite an accomplished keyboard player. His name is Robert Hooker, and Dee went to public school with Robert in Detroit. They were both in the same choir.

In 1968 when Dee was 16 he was asked by Robert to be a singer in his group. Now at this point John Lee Hooker was the last person on Dee's mind, and at this time in John Lee's career, he wasn't doing that much. He was mainly living off the records he had done in the 50's, and not playing on the club circuit in a big way at all.

Just shortly after Dee joined Robert in his band, Canned Heat came to town and watched John Lee play in a suburban Blues club in Detroit. Canned Heat's management liked John Lee's Blues style so much, he was asked to come out to California and open up on a regular basis for Canned Heat. Just opening up for Canned Heat was a moving force in John Lee's career and moved John closer to the Blues he loved dearly. Because at this point he was playing a lot of rock due to the movement away from your basic roots music and being with Canned Heat gave him that inspiration back to the Blues.

At this time in music, a number of well known artists such as Duane Allman, Eric Clapton and other artists with signature sounds were doing a lot of session work and doing a lot of Blues based work as well. This brought fans back to Blues but still had that hard edged rock appeal, mainly for whites. Dee Curtis was spending a lot of his time at John Lee's home on Anadon St.

In Detroit, practicing and doing sessions backing up John Lee's band as well. On weekends at Robert's it was one big jam session all day long, and John Lee's wife was known for putting out big spreads of food for the boys. This was quite a learning experience for Dee to say the least. Dee moved on in 70' and went into the armed forces for a stint. Dee hasn't seen Robert in many years since Dee went out to California and played with Horizon and the Hughes Corporation who came out with the song ("Don't Rock The Boat"). Robert is now a minister in California and doing his thing. Dee always said what a great keyboard player Robert was, and if things were different they may have done great things in music.



Dee did one thing though, on one of John Lee's albums in '69 which was a chart topping song regionally for a song called "Mr. Penguin". Dee played rhythm guitar on that track and John Lee did the main vocal line, which was, "Hello I'm Mr.Penguin". Now anyone who knows John Lee or his voice would automatically know it's his voice.

Mr. Penguin is mainly a funk based track where Dee got his affliction for being a funk master on guitar. The major R&B stations in and around Detroit were going nuts over that song because it was based on a dance called The Penguin. The major urban stations probably still have it somewhere in their catalogs. Dee Curtis is currently a solo artist in Detroit, with his Blues Band; The Dee Curtis Trio. Dee is working with drummer Paris, who is Dee’s brother, and has a revolving bass chair in his blues band.



Curtis has played with many top performers over the years including The Temptations Eddie Kendricks, avant-garde musician Bill Laswell, and many other fine blues artists while Dee was a blues artist in Canada up until 2004. Dee has high regard for those he played with in Canada, such as blues and classic rock bass player Vinny Trad who knew how to keep the rhythm section in the pocket Dee loved so, along with Rock session drummer Carlos LaTorre. Dee has a penchant for playing blues his way and always includes a proper dose of R&B along with his very tasteful rock blues tracks that take people back to a time in the 60’s when great blues was rare.


 
To listen to Dee's Demos go to:http://www.myspace.com/vonlafayette
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