As I mentioned a few weeks ago, some friends and I have been working on a Linda Ronstadt tribute band called Blue Bayou. We’ve spent enough time together to do a lot of hard work and occasionally get on each others’ nerves. But enough time now to have worked up close to two sets’ worth of material, bringing it achingly close to ready to perform. We just have to tighten it all up a little, add a few more songs, and get on each others’ nerves some more. And then we’ll be ready!

I’ve been excited about this band for a number of reasons: 

  1. We’ve got a killer female lead vocalist in the person of Yolie Milan. Yolie can flat-out channel Linda, which you can guess is the one absolute must-have for a Ronstadt tribute, right. (Thanks, by the way, are due bass player Kendall Brown for coming up with this particular tribute idea to begin with and pursuing it.) You can see more about Yolie in the artist pages of this website. 
  2. The project brings me back together with keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist, and great friend, Todd Guinn, from FastLane, our Eagles tribute band that enjoyed a very successful 11-year run.
  3. This band also has allowed me to expand my musical horizons by giving me the opportunity to play not only guitar — my main instrument — but also pedal steel guitar, lap steel guitar, fiddle, and banjo. The experience has already stretched me creatively and will really stretch me once I have to bring all that to every gig.

One slight bump in the road has involved a key role in the band: the role of drummer. We worked for a number of weeks with our friend, William Ryland. Unfortunately he had other commitments to keep, so we’ve been rehearsing the past several weeks without a drummer. The great news, however, is that according to the latest reports our former drummer extraordinaire from FastLane, Jimmy Siddons, may be returning from El Paso and may join us. We’re extremely pumped about that news and sincerely hope it works out. Come back, Jimmy!

We’ll shortly inaugurate a new webpage here, then, devoted to news about Blue Bayou. I hereby welcome us in advance to the DFW music scene. I can’t wait for that first gig. I’ll let you know when we set the date.

Recently a close friend, Todd Guinn, from my old Eagles tribute band, Fastlane, called to say he had been asked by a mutual friend to join a “Linda Ronstadt and Friends” tribute and wondered whether I would be interested in playing guitar for it.

This is the first time in a long time a new band idea has appealed to me. Others have been proposed at various points and I’ve turned them all down. None really seemed that interesting, in part because I’d grown weary of the tribute scene, and also because the acts being paid tribute to were not ones I felt a strong connection to.

But the Ronstadt thing is different. I loved her music growing up; how can you not admire that killer voice? But there’s more to it. One thing I liked about her music was how different it was compared to most rock at the time. Instrumentation, for example. Her songs featured bluegrass instruments, particularly fiddle, and quite a bit of steel guitar. It so happens I’ve been in possession of a fiddle and a steel guitar for a couple years, but I’ve never achieved much on either; I’ve basically goofed around with them a little. I took the gig largely because it would force me to develop chops on both instruments.

The other attraction has to do with the “and friends” part of the equation. We’ve decided to include others’ songs she did backup vocals on, like James Taylor’s “Bartender’s Blues,” as well as Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man.”

Of course, no Linda Ronstadt tribute gets far without a stellar female vocalist, and we have her in Yolie Millan, a 24 (and there’s so much more) year-old singer with pipes of gold. It’s shaping up to be a fun gig. We’ll keep you posted.

Gary