“They are not a band – they are an extravaganza”– John Hiatt
“The music these men make together draws on their richly various experience—funk, blues, hard rock, reggae—as individual artists, but it’s blended into a single tightly focused form of timeless Southern expression known as blues-rock, and they play the living hell out of it.” – John Sinclair
Atlanta, GA – Ruf Records recording group, Royal Southern Brotherhood (RSB) prepping for the much anticipated release of their third studio album, Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions on May 26th. The album was recorded at the legendary FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals and produced by Grammy award winning producer, Tom Hambridge, along with some new talent has created RSB’s best studio effort to date.
The magic of FAME Studio was not lost on band leader, Cyril Neville. The longtime musical icon almost sounded like a star struck upstart when speaking of the experience, stating, “I stood in the same place (vocal booth) as Wilson Pickett!”
The energy and excitement was not lost on the rest of the band or the music of Don’t Look Back. The process began when the band gathered at a rented house along the Tennessee River. The river is famous for the singing-like sounds it makes as the waves lap against the shores. According to the legend of The Singing River; which is associated with the Yuchie tribe, believed the flowing waters sounded like a woman singing. Rueben Williams, a Louisiana native and the band’s manager calls it “tree-verb” when he is down in the state’s bayous and swamps.
The time in the house not only inspired much of the material, it allowed the band to develop the chemistry that separates a band from a group of musicians. For their third effort RSB brought in two new fiery guitar slingers, Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan, who have been added to breathe new energy into Royal Southern Brotherhood’s sound. The new blood is there to help the venerable Cyril Neville and powerhouse rhythm section Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton up the funk while maintaining the blues and rock edge that has brought Royal Southern Brotherhood a growing, worldwide audience.
The time together showed when the band arrived at FAME. Producer, Tom Hambridge was so mesmerized by the quintet’s cohesiveness he didn’t want to touch a thing but the record button. Songs like “Anchor Me”, “Hell or High Water”, “Baby Girl” and the title track, “Don’t Look Back” all came from various places as the band toured. Whether it was a sound check in the mid-west or a cheap hotel lobby or some studio in Europe, the band fleshed out their ideas (often recorded on their cell phones), so they had structure and hooks worked out before reaching FAME. This allowed the band and Hambridge to concentrate on performance instead of spending time developing ideas.
The band’s two new members, Tyrone Vaughan and Bart Walker fit the band’s new, ‘up the funk’ direction perfectly while bringing their own unique talents to the project.
Bart Walker, who takes original member Mike Zito’s spot on stage left, with his tinted glasses, curly hair and a powerhouse voice. Classically trained, Walker cut his non classical chops with Mike Farris from The Screamin’ Cheetah Willies and keyboardist Reece Wynans (and old SRV bandmate). His 2013 release, Waiting On Daylight, garnered both national and international acclaim. This attention gave Bart the cache to see a lot of the world via Ruf Records President’s, Blues Caravan Tour, which spotlights new talent to sizable audiences. Now a seasoned player, Walker was ready to join the Brotherhood. “Joining RSB was the best idea anyone had for me,” said the affable Walker.
This was Tyrone Vaughan’s only second time collectively playing with the others and he fell into place as if he were a longtime bandmate. Being the son of Jimmie Vaughan and the nephew of the iconic SRV can be a heavy burden to bear. Fortunately, Tyrone is unaffected by the adulation for his family, and developed his own gifted style and signature tone. Tyrone cut his own path by working his way up through the Austin (a town drenched in guitar heroes for the uninitiated) club scene in his teens, eventually packing clubs around Texas. Through hard work, studying the masters and a tip or two from the family, Tyrone has developed a soulful voice along with a guitar tone that mixes blues, rock and country. Tyrone’s description of, “in your face,” tone proves accurate when you hear him cut through any mix.
As for Cyril Neville, once the voice behind the Meters and world famous Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville felt his way his way through the new tunes and members, as his one of a kind soulful energized the recording studio. Although this past year has been filled with many personal and professional events, all he could do was smile at the journey he was to continue, making good music, and sharing it with the world.
This young 65 year old singer has long been considered a New Orleans Icon and musical royalty for his stints in the Grammy Award winning Neville Brothers, Galactic and The Meters. Neville’s career has spawned 45 some odd years and has included performances with music icons such as Bono, Joan Baez, Dr. John and Tab Benoit. In 1989, Cyril penned, “Sister Rosa,” about the Civil Rights icon, Rosa Parks. USA Today honored Neville by choosing the song as one of the most inspirational song about Martin Luther King’s, “I Have A Dream,” speech on the 50th anniversary of the historical oration given during the march on Washington (Parks was in attendance). “Sister Rosa” may not have had a change on the movement at the time, but Neville’s composition reminded a country of the thousands of souls that risked their lives to bring an end to a shameful tradition in the US.
This past year, Cyril found himself being interviewed by another drummer, Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters, for the “Sonic Highways” documentary on HBO. This eight-part series that followed the Foo Fighters around to various US cities, capturing the music scene and history that is unique to that city. Grohl, who directed the series, interviewed other Nawlins luminaries Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews to gain an understanding of the Crescent City’s unique musical sound.
Cyril Neville’s experience and talent, combined with these energetic players creates a new sound that remains reverent to the blues traditions. Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions highlights the magic that happens when great songs are performed by great bands. Look for this gem to be available May 26. official website:royalsouthernbrotherhood.com
Line-up: Cyril Neville – Percussion and Vocals
Tyrone Vaughan – Guitar and Vocals
Bart Walker – Guitar and Vocals
Charlie Wooton – Bass
Yonrico Scott – Drums