Interview mit Al Copley

Gründungsmitglied von "Roomful Of Blues", erzählt von den Reunion-Gigs 11. Juni und 11. Dezember 2009

First of all: when asking Al Copley's former band mates they all do hold him in special high esteem - and they are absolutely right!

Al (Alman LeGrande) Copley is one of the multi-faceted Blues piano players of our days, brilliantly in all styles. I was so lucky to meet him in Kitzbühel, Austria, playing the Schwarzsee Festival, together with many other top musicians. If you ever have the chance to join Al Copley - buy the ticket!

Many thanks to Al for his support and courtesy.


bf: So – who had the idea of this great reunion?


Al: I will credit Caswell Cooke and Ken Kitchings for putting the idea together. They did an amazing job of getting us all together. For the second one, Rich Lupo was enough of an extra reason to reunite.


bf: Which name was used for the band? Roomful Of Blues is kept by the current band.


Al: On the June gig, the current version of Roomful of Blues opened. We respect them as they have continued the tough job of keeping on keeping on, and they gave us good reason to put out when our time came ! They did not join us for the Lupo show, and since we do not have the right to use the name Roomful of Blues, we called ourselves "Rhode Island Blues Reunion." The first show was called "Roomful of Blues -- Then and Now."..a little ironic, but understandable.


bf: Didn't you have troubles to coordinate with all your schedules and tours?


Al: We certainly did, but this was Caswell's shining moment. He could work for the UN with the job of painstaking persistence it took to get everything right. Once it happened that time however, we all pretty much jumped at the the second one. Remember, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel was one of our mainstay bases when we were kids (like the Knickerbocker in Westerly.) Ken Kitchings at the Garde Theatre in New London was also a major contributing factor to the first reunion in June.


bf: How did you decide about which songs to play after that long time?


Al: Once the logistics were finally worked out, the vacation started. >From the first note of the first rehearsal, it was as though we had never stopped playing together. We all let Duke pick the tunes, as he used to do, and we all added in.


bf:  Did you have enough time for rehearsals?

Al: Two days of rehearsals and it was in the pocket.


bf: How did you feel playing at Lupo's again and what is your special relation to this location?


Al: Lupo's, as I said earlier, was a mainstay club on our circuit -- our Providence Home. In the Seventies we backed up "Big" Joe Turner, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy McCracklin, Sil Austin, Red Prysock, Link Wray (remember a rockabilly tune called "Rumble" by Link Wray and the Ray Men?), Helen Humes (who replaced Billie Holiday in the Count Basie Orchestra), Big Mama Thornton and George "Harmonica" Smith, Big Walter Horton -- oh I know I've missed so many more, but hey, if you remember the Seventies, maybe you weren't there? The Belushi-Ackroyd thing happened in NYC.


bf: Has there been a special part of the show you personally liked most?


Al: For me, the drive of the rhythm section with Preston was a particular thrill. We all seemed so grateful to be all around still to play again in the style that we all learned together as kids over endless drinks, smokes and records. No, the whole evening was a PERFECT PLEASURE !!! I love all these guys, and since I left in 1984 I've found myself incorporating the sounds I heard in my head of the other guys -- and I can tell it was the same for the others -- so much so that there is now no line between instruments and functions -- just One Perfect Harmony.


bf: Did you feel substantial changes to past performances?


Al: All the tunes were played better than ever. We've all grown up a lot and some of the rough edges have gotten beautifully rougher and others have just been ground off.


bf: How about further upcoming projects with your old buddies?


Al: Well Andy, I'm afraid this was it for now. Maybe again, someday -- someway...