Interview with The Sidney Green Street Band -- Southern Rock n' Roll with elements of R&B and Jazz

"Music like math is the international language. You don't have to speak Greek, French, Spanish, English or whatever to comprehend it. Music is part of the human experience. It crosses all borders."

The Sidney Green Street Band: Jam In The Moment

The Sidney Green Street Band story begins, of course, in a classic roadhouse in Northern New Jersey called the Great Notch Inn, where four prolific rock musicians…and the closest of friends, explosively deliver an exceptionally wide-ranging musical allure that infuses good southern rock ‘n roll with elements of rhythm & blues and jazz. The Sidney Green Street Band is a guitar-band, plain and simple, featuring the best rhythm section in New York…or in the world for that matter. Guitarists Justin Jordan and Lance Doss are exceptionally agile guitarists; equally adept at channeling legendary slice of Quicksilver-era psychedelia as they are at evoking the bittersweet twin guitar harmonies of the Allman Brothers. The forceful syncopated drive of the rhythm section is the legendary Steve Holley (Paul McCartney, Elton John, Joe Cocker and Ian Hunter) on drums and Paul Page (Ian Hunter, John Cale, Dion, Gary US Bonds) on bass.

The Sidney Green Street Band: Justin Jordan, Lance Doss, Steve Holley, Paul Page & Robert Allen

Vocalist Doss, born in bred in Alabama, brings a myriad of colors to the Southern based roots that form his foundation; rousing and rebellious. Songs reflect some shared emotional states and narrative threads both real and imagined amongst the band members. “Payin' The Price” speaks to personal confession and “Some Things Ain’t Never Gonna Change” is as smooth and pure as emotional reflection can be while still looking ahead. “Sadie” which takes a detour to All Capp’s mythic hillbilly Dog patch, is an instant classic. This kind of jamming requires a level of technical virtuosity and music literacy that only years of combined varicolored experience can produce. That is The Sidney Green Street Band.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

LD: I grew up listening to Southern Rock and that music is blues influenced so I feel that influence carried over to my playing and writing. And in my more formative years I went through my musicologist period trying to learn all about all things music and the Blues was certainly a big part of that but I am not a purist.

JJ: The one music that can make one feel real human emotion is blues guitar. Sincerity, honesty and to be genuine is the mark of a blues guitarist. As far as learning about myself, it's an ongoing quest.

SH: The blues to me is an expression musically of all the feelings within and around me. I play my mood. In the right circumstances, it allows me to express my frustration, sadness, joy and everything in between, and as a consequence, revives my spirit. 

PP: I am constantly reminded to express my feelings and not my thoughts.

"Whether it be soul, jazz, country or gospel it all comes from the blues. They are all blues babies!"

How do you describe The Sidney Green Street Band soumd and songbook? What characterize band’s philosophy?

LD: I was inspired by playing with Paul, Justin and Steve and wanted to write music as a vehicle to do that. The Sidney Green Street Band song book is developing from that….I do try and write good songs but in the end the songs are more a palate for playing than they are for the lyrics…it ain’t Dylan….but I do try to make the songs interesting lyrically, something to move to and something we can come together with as four musicians.

JJ: I would describe Sidney's sound as swampy southern blues rock. The band's philosophy is 'in the moment'. New songs are passed around and verbally discussed. There are no formal rehearsals, which is scary and navigating without a net. We rehearse literally on stage in front of an audience. With that said it is also exhilarating.

What is the story beside the name of band?

LD: An accident really. Back when I was a kid in Alabama I was part of an impromptu band put together by musicians from various groups in the area to raise money for children at Christmas (“Toys for Tots”). They asked me to come up with a name for the band and I had always liked the visual of the “street bands” of New Orleans and of course the E-Street band was big as Born to Run had just hit. That, with my love for all things Bogart and “The Sidney Green Street Band” came out of my mouth (Sidney Greenstreet was a famous actor and starred in Humphrey Bogart films).

Are there any memories from gigs, jams and studio time which you’d like to share with us?

LD: My fondest memories of music are playing in a bar called “Egan’s” in Tuscaloosa Alabama with the older musicians in the area, some well know others local music heroes. I was easily 10 years younger than they were but they let me play and that was some of the most important playing in my life as well as learning. I will always be grateful to them, Joe Terry, Gooner McGee, Bill Connell, Mark Jackson, ben McCoy…I can’t remember the rest right now but it was a very good time to be a musician.

JJ: While making the self-titled Sidney Green Street band CD we recorded in "Bruce Springsteen country" at Shorefire studios in Long Branch, New Jersey. On the first day of recording we entered the studio around noon while there was a light flurry of snow outside. By the time we finished the first day’s work it was midnight. When we left the studio we walked outside to find 2 feet of snow and a major blizzard in progress. The 20 minute ride to our accommodations turned into an hour and a half ride while trying to navigate through the inclement weather. The next day the sun came out and we were able to complete the recording & mixing in another two days. We were on a mission and nothing was going to stop us.

Are there any memories from Ian Hunter, John Cale, and Dion which you’d like to share with us?

PP: The thing I see in common in all three of these artist is that they are all very passionate singer songwriters. as an accompanist and collaborator I try to listen to every word and try to feel their mood to appropriately apply my performance whether it is a heartfelt ballad or a straight up rocker.

Are there any memories from Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker and Ian Hunter which you’d like to share with us?

SH: Performing alongside artists of this caliber has allowed my career to have a longevity which I doubt could have existed without them.  They taught me nearly everything I know. Some of the experiences I have shared with them will live with me forever. However, it is not just the big names. I keep an open heart and learn from everyone I perform with.

"The blues to me is an expression musically of all the feelings within and around me. I play my mood. In the right circumstances, it allows me to express my frustration, sadness, joy and everything in between, and as a consequence, revives my spirit."

Why did you think that the Southern music and culture continues to generate such a devoted following?

LD: It’s hard for me to say as I grew up immersed in it and it still remains the bar I try to reach but there is something very real in the feeling you get, the mental pictures it paints and the overall effect of southern music and the south as a whole that is captivating…I’m very proud of my southern roots…thanks Mom and dad!!!!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

LD: Maybe just the sound of how things were recorded and how we listened to those recordings. Occasionally I will listen to vinyl again and realize what we hear nowadays in digital formats is only about a third of what’s on the recording sonically speaking. And that’s a shame.

JJ: When I was young in the 70's we couldn't wait for our favorite artists new/old records to come out. One would scan the credits and lyrics and personnel on the LPs. It was fun to discuss who was playing on what with your friends. I'm afraid this activity has gone by the wayside with young people today. Downloading new or old music does not come with credits or lyrics.

SH: I miss nothing from the music of the past. I keep it all within me. I hope only for peace in this world. All I fear is injustice.

PP: I’m always happy to find music from the past that I may not have heard and I try keep my mind open to new music. It’s all music and expression and I’m open to all of it.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

LD: That musician’s would be paid fairly…but I don’t want to get started on that rant….

JJ: That artists and composers be paid for their work!

SH: My paycheck.

PP: I hate when folks judge one type of music as being superior or more important than another. It’s always growing and changing and morphing and I wish folks could sit back and enjoy what they like without condemning what they don’t.

"The one music that can make one feel real human emotion is blues guitar."

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and southern rock ‘n roll?

LD: I hate to dodge that question but I am not much of a musicologist or music analyst…I just love music that makes me feel great and while I realize it’s important to know where that came from and the roots of all music, it’s not important in the moment and I prefer to dwell on that.

JJ: To quote the great Muddy Waters "The blues had a baby and they named that baby rock 'n roll". Blues is the original American art form. Whether it be soul, jazz, country or gospel it all comes from the blues. They are all blues babies!

SH: Folk and country music.

PP: The lines for me are drawn in the performances of people like Duck Dunn and John McVie.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

LD: I’m not that involved in the local music circuit other than with the band but I have seen some very young teenage bands recently in clubs that gave me a smile because of the oddity of seeing kids that age on stages where you are used to seeing older artists but also because of how absolutely amazing the kids and their bands were…and that’s hopeful, that kids still want to terrorize their parents garage with loud amps and original music like we did.

JJ: Although this is not a local story I'll tell it anyway. While on a mid-west tour with Garland Jeffreys this fall we played Minneapolis, Minnesota. After a great show, I was cooling out at the bar when a couple came up and wanted to speak with me. They said I had a funny accent and wanted to know where I was from. I told him I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. I told them their accent was slightly foreign to me too. They ended each sentence with "you betcha"(like the characters in the movie "Fargo"). I told them if they wanted to speak like they were from New Jersey they must start every sentence with "Not for nothing...". This gave them a great laugh!

Music like math is the international language. You don't have to speak Greek, French, Spanish, English or whatever to comprehend it. Music is part of the human experience. It crosses all borders.

"I grew up listening to Southern Rock and that music is blues influenced so I feel that influence carried over to my playing and writing. And in my more formative years I went through my musicologist period trying to learn all about all things music and the Blues was certainly a big part of that but I am not a purist."

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

LD: Woodstock…

JJ: I would like to spend the day in that Dallas hotel room where Robert Johnson recorded King of the Delta blues. There have been a lot of myths and legends about the man but, as far as I'm concerned, that's where it was put down in history. I would like to be a fly on the wall just to witness it!

SH: The “Last Supper” to meet Jesus, a man of peace and integrity.

PP: I grew up in upstate New York, around The Great Lakes and Finger Lakes and the foothills of the Adirondacks, whenever I go up there now I always find myself looking around wondering what it was like there before…us.

………………………………………………………..........

The Sidney Green Street Band

Lance Doss-guitar & vocals: Having grown up in the south, spent extensive musical time in Key West, Florida, Chicago and New York, Lance brings a myriad of colors to the southern based roots that form his foundation. Performing everywhere from The Tonight Show with John Cale who he toured the world with for over six years, to The Great Notch Inn, his favorite little biker bar in New Jersey, the one thing that remains constant is his passion and love for making music for friends and listeners. You can hear his music in two films by Michael Moore, “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” as well as catching him perform his own take on Southern Swamp with The Sidney Green Street Band and his own solo performances around New York, New Jersey and Alabama.

Justin Jordan-guitar and vocals: Justin Jordan (JJ) is a versatile guitar, mandolin, dobro and baritone guitar player that has appeared and toured in the US, Europe and South America with a number of artists including: Sean Fleming, Flo & Eddy (The Turtles), Shirley Allston Reeves (Shirelles), Gary US Bonds and a multitude of Doo Wop/Oldies acts. He is currently a member of The Sidney Green Street Band, who just released their second album featuring original southern "swamp" rock and blues originals. This NYC-based musician is well known for his passion and respect for all types of music and performers. He hosted the popular Sunday nite "JJ Trashband Jam" for over 5 years; a destination for local and touring musicians looking to meet and jam off the road with other players. As a professional musician for over 20 years, JJ has performed, toured, and recorded both as a solo artist and with an eclectic mix of bands - playing everything from Southern Rock, New Wave, Reggae/Ska, Irish Trad, Rock, Funk, and Blues.

Paul Page-bass guitar: Paul Page has toured, recorded, and appeared on television and home video with numerous artists including John Cale, Dion, Popa Chubby, Ruth Gerson, Martin's Folly, Gary US Bonds, Bo Diddley, Del Shannon, Ben E. King. Paul currently plays with various bands on the Doo Wop/Oldies circuit as well as recording and touring with Ian Hunter as part of Ian's Rant Band.

Steve Holley-drums: A well respected member of the music community since the 1970's, Steve had his first brush with fame playing for Elton John. He was soon offered a chance to Join Paul McCartney & Wings. Having toured with Wings and played on the Back To The Egg album, Steve went on to tour and record with Kiki Dee, Joe Cocker, Jullian Lennon, Tommy Shaw, Dar Williams, Ben E King and Chuck Berry to name a few. He has been recording and touring with Ian Hunter for over 20 years and is currently the drummer in Ian Hunter's Rant Band.

Steve Holley (drums) & Paul Page (bass) / Photo by Tamara Guo

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