An Interview with Flett Brothers of Bluebirds: Louisiana’s #1 Rhythm & Blues / Rockin’ Soul Trio

"Appreciating Blues is maybe the best way I know how to connect with other cultures/ethnic groups in America."

The Bluebirds: Southern Blues Brothers

Louisiana’s #1 Rhythm & Blues / Rockin’ Soul Trio formed in May 1986. The Bluebirds are based out of Shreveport, Louisiana. Buddy Flett is the guitarist and vocalist. Bruce Flett is on bass and also sings lead. The group has been booked solid throughout its history, averaging over 150 nights a year!

Buddy Flett is not only known as one of the greatest slide a guitarist in the South, but has written songs recorded by Percy Sledge, Johnny Adams, John Mayall and others. Currently Buddy is concentrating on his solo acoustic career, and touring with Hubert Sumlin. In addition to leading the group, playing bass and singing, Bruce Flett also books Musical Acts for Special Occasions, Festivals and Events.

The Flett Brothers were members of a very popular R & B group known as “A Train” from 1977-1987. Formed around the core of Fletts, and vocalist Miki Honeycutt, with the intention of performing bluesy rock & roll.
Festival performances have included the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland Oregon, Helena Arkansas’ world famous Blues Festival, Eureka Springs Blues Festival, River Walk Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl, many others. They have performed in England, Belgium, Greece, and Amsterdam. The Bluebirds have released three CDs, Swamp Stomp, South From Memphis and Highway 80 East. The Bluebirds, still Alive and Well!

Interview by Michael Limnios

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

Bruce: Appreciating Blues is maybe the best way I know how to connect with other cultures/ethnic groups in America.

Buddy: Being a guitar play I thought the Blues Cats were the best, when learn lyrics I thought they preach the truth.

In what age did you play your first gig and how was it like (where, with whom etc.)?

Bruce: 16 or 17....It was a roller skating party at our church.  Nervous excitement.  I was the only one in the band that would sing.

We did a couple of Rolling Stones songs. It was 1967. Maybe one by the Animals. 

Tell me about the beginning of Bluebirds. How did you choose the name and where did it start?

Bruce: Buddy thought up the name Bluebirds.......oh, the connection to Bluebird records (blues/jazz label) and the Bluebird Nightclub in Ft Worth TX which was a blues club.

How do you describe your sound and progress ?

Bruce: On bass guitar, major influences Donald Duck Dunn and James Jamerson.  Vocals- Wilson Pickett, Bobby Bland, Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton

Buddy: My sound is B.B., Freddie, Elmo, Mr. Hubert, STAX, Keith, Leadbelly, and own.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues music?

Bruce: Hubert Sumlin.......he told me it was Freddy King playing electric bass on the Howlin' Wolf session of "Killing Floor"

Buddy: The old Men sharing knowledge...

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?

Bruce: Meeting Hank Williams Sr’s widow in her own home. Worst?  The Worst is Yet to Come!

Buddy: Ten Days Tour with Kenny Wayne Shepherd was best 

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

Bruce: There are so many.......why?  Because.

What is the “feeling” you miss most nowadays from the A - train era?

Bruce: Financial Success, Respect.

Buddy: A train was a good run  

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

Bruce: Don't quit your Day Job.  Have skills in career(s) in addition to Music. Keep Music as your Passion.

Buddy: Don’t do it for money sometimes it comes lotta time in don’t

Why did you think that Louisiana blues scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

Bruce: Its right in between Mississippi and could it NOT?

Are there any memories from Bluebirds, which you’d like to share with us?

Bruce: Well, one time we went to Athens Greece.......that was fun.

Buddy: We had an old van, old amps and guitars; it was a cool trip, got to open up for John Lee Hooker in Lil Rock.

Tell me a few things about your meet with Bo Diddley, which memory from him makes you smile?

Bruce: When he got behind the drum set and showed our drummer what to play, and it wasn't the Bo Diddley beat (as we knew it)!

What is the best advice a bluesman ever gave you?

Bruce: You have to crawl before you Walk..."Peaches" Sterling, who played for a while with Guitar Slim.

Also, Albert King told us one time when we were staying at the same hotel as he& his band, "Fellas, one thing you gotta always remember when you go on the road, bring some prune juice with you".

Buddy: Don’t gamble with the Bands money.

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

Bruce: With Buddy, John Cambell, and Randy "Goat" Arthur at the Lake Cliff bar/roadhouse in Shreveport.

Oh, Bluebirds gigs one of the most memorable and best was in Athens “Blues People” and WORST was in Athens, Texas at a bowling alley.......we didn’t get paid!

Buddy: After the tour Mr. Hubert took be out as his 2nd guitar player that was cool. A-Train, and BlueBirds played around the south crazy times I was young

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES

Bruce: Hopefully Blues will be considered as "high" of an Art form as Classical Music or any "Pop" music.

Buddy: Hard question, Blues, Gospel, Folk will always be here. Not enough off the old Blues people left take care of them. Lotta good folks doing that. 

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