Archive for can't lose playing the blues

‘Footprints on the moon’: Paul Size looks back at The Red Devils

Posted in paul size with tags , , , , on May 16, 2021 by J.J.

With his solo debut out now, the guitarist knows that the band he was in three decades ago will always be a part of his life. “There’s too many extraordinary things that went down that it’s not going to go away,” Paul Size tells nofightin.com.

Paul Size performs with The Red Devils at the BlueFunk Club in Poynton, UK, 2017. Photo © Tina Hanagan

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 2 of an interview with Paul Size. For more, read Part 1 here.

The Red Devils legend is about so much going right, and so very much going so very wrong.

Paul Size was there for it.

Fans still think of Size as “The Kid,” as the 20-year-old was known in the band and press materials, a baby-faced bluesman juxtaposed against the roadworthy Bateman, Butler and Bartels.

Today, Size has 30 years of experience under his strap and a debut solo album called “Can’t Lose Playing The Blues.” He has come to appreciate his time in The Red Devils — and his persona as the have-gun-will-travel guitar hero from Texas.

“I mean, I have to admit, I like it. I used to want to kind of run away from it,” Size said during a recent interview with nofightin.com. “But I realize now that, you know, I’m grateful I did it and I was part of it. Like, I’ve always said, it’s a footprint on the moon … there’s too many extraordinary things that went down that it’s not going to go away.”

“Extraordinary things” is one way to put it.

On the plus side: Right place, right time, and right guys. The band’s magic — incendiary live shows — was incubated in weekly gigs in a bar in an old Chinese restaurant in Hollywood. The King King club had an energy, a vibe, Size said: “There was always somebody famous there. So it had this kind of the ‘in thing’ kind of thing to do on Mondays.”

And that other side: Failed team-ups and recording projects, fights, drugs and financial battles turned the blood bad. The sad, untimely death of Lester Butler made it impossible for the Devils to truly reconcile, or ever bring together their classic lineup one more time. 

Until 2017.

Conditions were right for “The Return of The Red Devils”: Their cult status had grown over the years, and the 25th anniversary of “King King” was a great hook for fans, festivals and clubs.

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It also caught the attention of one Rev. Billy F. Gibbons, the mad scientist of blues-rock. The legendary ZZ Top was going on tour of Europe that summer. And Gibbons was a fan of The Red Devils. After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Devils were tapped to reform and perform.

In the ensuing 25 years, the former Devils had spread out around the U.S., from one end to the other, and all points in between. Size was living in Martha’s Vineyard, and had settled into a routine of day jobs, local gigs, family life and a stint with the combo Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. 

“It was ZZ Top!” Size recalled excitedly of getting the gig. “… I mean, I just couldn’t pass that up. And I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I was kinda doing really nothing where I was, I had this really, really boring job doing water treatment, so I was in basements of houses and I was just bored, you know?”

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Paul Size fuels solo debut with unearthed blues and old friends

Posted in paul size with tags , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2021 by J.J.
Paul Size performs with The Red Devils at the Borderline in London in 2017. Photo © Tina Hanagan

If you are getting ready to pick the songs to record for your first solo album, where do you start?

If you’re Paul Size, you go to YouTube.

“I went on YouTube and punched in ‘rare blues,’ you know, ’cause I didn’t want to do all the songs that everybody’s done,” Size told No Fightin’ during an April 3 phone interview. “Like the T-Bird’s first record, nobody had heard of those songs, but they were covers. So I kinda tried to do that. … Just kind of get some obscure songs that no one’s ever heard that I dug and that’s kind of, that was the start, you know?”

So thank the Algo-rhythm Gods of the Internet for their contribution to Size’s new album, “Can’t Lose Playing The Blues,” and its stellar lineup of songs by B.B. King, Earl Hooker, Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, Frankie Lee Sims and more.

Known for his fiery Chicago blues playing with The Red Devils, “Can’t Lose” presents a different Size. He doesn’t sing, plays a lot of rhythm guitar and works sympathetically with the other musicians for a true band sound. That’s not the usual “solo” album recipe, but that probably makes it the most “Paul Size” record it can be.

“I wanted to make it a good listening record too, not just a big guitar hero record,” he said. “And Jeff really wanted to show off my rhythm playing. He goes, ‘you’re a great rhythm player. Let’s show that off.’ … So I went with the flow.”

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REVIEW: Paul Size tells it like it is on debut solo CD, ‘Can’t Lose Playing The Blues’

Posted in paul size with tags , , , , , , , on March 21, 2021 by J.J.

“Let the music do the talking” goes the old warhorse. On his debut solo album, “Can’t Lose Playing The Blues,” guitarist Paul Size lets his fingers tell the tale of his life in blues.

Size, most known as the white-hot soloist from The Red Devils, offers the record as a reintroduction to listeners. Free from the restrictions of someone else’s vision, Size dishes out nearly an hour’s worth of diverse, rollicking music that stands as his word on the blues.

With a sympathetic band and some tried-and-true musical inspirations, “Can’t Lose” is the sound of a live band communicating in real time, in an intimate environment shepherded by producer/engineer (and bassist/vocalist) Jeffrey Berg.

The album is bookended by off-the-cuff acoustic guitar numbers, “Welcome” and “It’s Been A While,” which act as the preface and afterword of Size’s musical biography. In between, like a good barroom meeting between old friends, everyone gets a turn to jump in.

And jump it does on “Do The Boogie,” Size’s take on B.B. King’s “Boogie Woogie Woman.” The band’s agenda is clear, with stellar playing for the good of the song. Jeremy Berlin (Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish) takes the lead on piano — in fact, taking the first solo on the record, supported by Size’s essential rhythm work. (For the record, the album’s first electric guitar solo starts at 1:53 of track 2.)

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Paul Size solo album pre-order up + Bateman/Bartel streaming live tonight

Posted in bill bateman, jonny ray bartel, paul size with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2021 by J.J.

Lots of Red Devils-related stuff going on this weekend. Let’s jump into it:

‘Can’t Lose Playing the Blues’

The debut solo album from Paul Size, “Can’t Lose Playing the Blues,” is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp. The digital album will be up on March 5; physical CDs will be shipped March 5. Both are at the recommended price of $15.

Based on the little song snippet previews, this promises to be a great blues release. It pairs Size with a small ensemble (featuring Hash Brown and Jeremy Berlin) on a series of tried-and-true, good-for-you blues. (I’ll be most excited for “Universal Rock” and “Sadie.”)

Really intriguing is this nugget from the album summary: “Throughout 16 tracks, the record tells a story with purely improvised acoustic blues and studio banter woven throughout giving the listener a glimpse into the mind and heart of Paul’s musicianship.”

We’ll have a full write-up here on NoFightin.com when the record arrives, and more.

Order now at paulsize.bandcamp.com.

Blue Shadows streaming live from L.A.

The Blue Shadows assemble tonight, Feb. 6, with past and present members reuniting.

The band will be Javier Matos, Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel (filling in for John Bazz).

If you recall, it was Bateman, Bartel and Dave Alvin, as The Blue Shadows, that in 1988 started the Monday night King King tradition that eventually morphed into The Red Devils.

Tonight’s gig from The Redwood Bar in Los Angeles begins streaming live at 8 p.m. Pacific Time (for our friends in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, that’s 5 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 7).

The show will stream live on Twitch as a “pay what you can show,” and will be available later on YouTube.

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