Archive for paul size

‘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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1993 tour contracts show work behind Holland tour

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2021 by J.J.

Note: This post was first published on Feb. 20, 2017, and updated May 2, 2021.

As the reunited Red Devils prepare to return to Europe for the first time in almost 25 years, a series of contracts, riders and correspondence show just how much work it took to get the band on the road in 1993.

The documents are primarily between concert promoters and booking agents for the band’s 14-date Nov. 14-29, 1993, tour of Holland (some details redacted by nofightin.com):

devils_tour_091093

1. This document, from Sept. 10, 1993, details a proposed itinerary for the band for two weeks in Holland. Of interest are protential gigs that didn’t seem to materialize, such as on Nov. 16, 19 and 24.

2. The band’s tour rider, dated Oct. 9, 1993, breaks down what The Red Devils needed to stay on the road. Soundcheck, security, billing requirements and backline (the kind of gear the venues or promoters would provide for the band) were all outlined. If you wanted to know what amps the band was using, this document lays it out.

Most folks will be interested in the last page: What the band required in their dressing rooms. Nothing fancy — beer, soda, water, sandwiches. And a bottle of Jack and two packs of Winston 100s.

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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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Onstage with The Red Devils and Zach Zunis at the Paradiso, 1993

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2021 by J.J.

Thanks to Harold Schreuder in Holland, we have some “new ” looks at The Red Devils in 1993 to share.

Harold tells us that he saw the band a few times that year, including meeting The Red Devils (with Zach Zunis replacing Paul Size) at their Nov. 29, 1993, performance at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (You can tell that he really met the band because he has one photo each with the players, and Dave Lee Bartel is nowhere to be seen.)

The first batch of photos are from April and May, 1993, Harold says, with Paul Size on lead. It certainly looks like the Paradiso here on May 2. The other gig is a little harder to tell … could it have been April 29 at De Haagse Koninginnenacht, Den Haag, The Netherlands?

And here are some cool pics of the band from November in Amsterdam, with Zunis on lead guitar:

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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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Block 1993 interview with Lester Butler after Pinkpop festival (annotated)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2021 by J.J.

This week, we bring you an interview with Lester Butler from the July/August/September 1993 issue of Block magazine (#87).

There is a lot to take in from this interview, conducted May 31, 1993, after the band had already played its seminal morning set opening the 1993 Pinkpop Festival, and a gig that night in Doornroosje, Nijmegen, Holland. Basically, this interview was their last official activity at the end of an important month for the band, which kicked off May 1 with the legendary performance at the Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel.

The story, originally in Dutch, has been translated by nofightin.com (well, Google Translate, with some contextual edits by us), and appears in its entirety below.

In addition, we offer annotations throughout the story: What’s right, what’s wrong, more context and history. Look for the notes just under some paragraphs.

A band foaming at the mouth: The Red Devils

By Marion Wisse

The Red Devils started in 1988 as a jam session band at the King King club, a former Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. The first time only nine skateboarders came to watch, but due to word of mouth, the number of visitors grew quickly. Among them: Peter Wolf, Lenny Kravitz and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Also always present was Rick Rubin, producer for the Def American label. But it wasn’t until they had seen his face about 60 times that Lester Butler (vocals/harmonica) and his mates knew what that man does in the business.

Much of this is detailed in the band’s official press kit biography.

The debut CD “King King” has been out for less than a year and resulted in a studio session with Mick Jagger. In addition, The Red Devils were allowed to close Moulin Blues and open Pinkpop. In the evening, after Pinkpop, they performed in Doornroosje in Nijmegen. There we spoke to the band.

When the band arrives at Doornroosje a little later than planned due to a minor collision, their Pinkpop performance of that morning has just been broadcast. Great is the hilarity among the band members when Bram van Splunteren does not seem to know who Little Walter was. And when the cameraman of the NOS then switches bass guitarist Jonny Ray Bartel and guitarist Paul Size during the announcement, the boys are really laughing. Immediately afterward we talk with Lester Butler, Paul Size (or was that Lester Butler?), and drummer Bill Bateman.

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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.

Paul Size, the guitarist and the guitar

Posted in paul size with tags , , on November 4, 2018 by J.J.

Photo by Tina Hanagan

You can’t be an “underrated” guitar player if everyone who hears you play is blown away.

Paul Size might be underground, but he is never underrated.

The mighty Rev. Billy F. Gibbons again touts The Red Devils’ guitarist, this time in a Music Radar story, “The 10 Guitarists Who Blew My Mind”:

8. Paul Size: “This next block I’d like to give to the guitar players from a band called The Red Devils. Paul ‘The Kid’ Size on guitar, he had this real angry Strat, Stevie Ray Vaughan kind of tone. He would do this thing where he’d play a blues lick at speed and then all of sudden quicken the pace before anyone could see it coming.

“Then there was Dave Lee Bartel, a wonderful rhythm player, and Mike Flanigin who despite being known for the Hammond, started off as a guitarist! A lot of people have underrated his guitar work because he’s become so accomplished on the Hammond B3. That’s the sound of Texas meeting California.

Gibbons rounds out his Devils love with a shout-out to former James Harman Band guitarist Hollywood Fats.

Here is his full top 10:

  1. Van Wilks
  2. Jimmie Vaughan
  3. Jimmy Page
  4. Jeff Beck
  5. Hubert Sumlin
  6. Eric Johnson
  7. Andres Segovia
  8. Paul Size
  9. Jimi Hendrix
  10. Mystery No. 10

Last summer, Gibbons gifted The Red Devils’ guitarists with custom-made Devil guitars that the boys used all summer as the opening act on ZZ Top’s European “Tonnage” tour.

Courtesy @reddevilsmusic Instagram

Size recently posted on his Facebook (since deleted) that he was entertaining offers for this rare guitar — commissioned by one of the greats, played by one of the greats on an earth-shaking reunion tour.

Interested? Reach out to Paul Size on Facebook.

Chasing the Devils’ Tale: Tour dispatches from Europe (parts 1-7)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2017 by J.J.

Nofightin.com is following The Red Devils on tour through Europe, whether they like it or not. Come here for our dispatches from every show as we go. Words and others by J.J. Perry; tour photography by Tina Hanagan

ZZ ROOFTOP (Show 1: Stimmen Festival, Lorrach, Germany 21.7.17)

I wrote about The Red Devils show earlier. But here is what didn’t happen onstage.

Hundreds and hundreds of fans (an organizer told us capacity is 5,000) crammed into the old marketplace square, an intersection of several streets where the stage was set. Stimmen is a several-week festival, with an eclectic lineup (the day after ZZ was a performance by Grace Jones).

After the Devils’ set, we muscled through an elbow-to-ass crowd to a hotel bar for beers. We met Paul Size when he came down for a refill and he invited us up to his room where, from two large open windows, we could watch ZZ Top’s set.

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25 years on, the Devils’ power remains

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by J.J.


[words: J.J. Perry; all photographs by Tina Hanagan]

An evening rain Friday cooled and soaked the thousands waiting in line for the Stimmen Festival in Lorrach, Germany. The crowd was patient under ponchos and umbrellas and canopies on Lorrach’s historic streets, waiting in line to get into the marketplace stage area.

But we couldn’t help but wonder, as heavy raindrops rolled down our heads and into our eyes: Did we fly to Germany only to have our first Red Devils concert in 25 years be rained out?

Pushing forward through the crowd in the Lorrach square, we took our spots. As if on cue, the rain trickled to a stop moments before The Red Devils took the stage at 8 p.m. Big Pete stomped his feet and the band launched into a pounding “Mr. Highway Man.” I jumped in my spot yelling, taken back to 1992, when I saw this band for the first time. 

This was exactly where I wanted to be.
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