Q&A with vocalist/songwriter Lara Germony (Lara & The Bluz Dawgz) - a wide range across the blues, R&B area

"I think blues has always allowed an element of freedom within the execution and expression of the music - that is relatable on so many levels to all human beings."

Lara & The Bluz Dawgz: Reflections

Nashville, Tennessee is a city rich with great musical partnerships; the creation of Lara and the Bluz Dawgz is no exception. It was the love of Blues that brought this lineup of seasoned musicians together. The members of the band hail from a wide range of geographic locales, from New York to Louisiana, and from New Mexico, to Ontario, Canada. Their collective live performance experience spans several continents and countries and creates Lara and the Bluz Dawgz’ unique take on the Blues. These musicians are accomplished in their own right, with a live performance pedigree whose venues range from CBGBs in New York City to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

As a founding member of Lara and the Bluz Dawgz, vocalist and songwriter, Lara Dean Germony, brings an unmistakable vocal style, rife with lyric and emotion that epitomize the Blues genre. Lara began performing at a very early age. While in college, she majored in classical voice performance. Lara loves all types of music and has performed in Jazz, Rock, and Country bands while her heart remained loyal to Blues, a common thread in all of these styles. Lara has co-written and recorded two albums of original R&B and Blues. Lara is married to Bluz Dawgz’ bassist and founding member, Gregg Germony, and they have formed a life-long musical and personal relationship. ‘Howlin' (2015), was the second album from Lara & The Bluz Dawgz. The band are: Bassist Gregg Germony began his musical career in Buffalo, NY, which served as his base while performing road gigs throughout the US and Canada. Piano Player, Daniel Nadasdi, was born in Southern Ontario, Canada and grew up loving the music coming across the border from Detroit Michigan. Some of his earliest influences include Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Founding member and guitarist, Al Rowe, brings a lifetime of experience in playing the Blues. His guitar work has been compared to Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Mick Taylor, Al’s greatest influence; other influences include Eric Clapton, SRV and Peter Frampton. A native of New Mexico, Ray Gonzales provides the driving backbone to Lara and the Bluz Dawgz. Hailing from the birthplace of jazz, NOLA, saxophonist, composer, producer, Reggie Murray now makes Nashville his home. Reggie’s smooth sound takes the Bluz Dawgz to higher levels, leaving the listeners longing to hear more. The third album from Lara And The Bluz Dawgz, “Out Here In The Blue” (2017) contains 11 original numbers written by the husband and wife team, Lara & Gregg Germony, and their cohorts Al Rowe and Carlos Ruiz, with help from Reggie Murray on ‘Smoke Break.’ The recording is produced by Gregg Germony and Jim Schacher, who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album at the Song Closet in Nashville, TN.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues & rock n’ roll culture and what does the blues mean to you?

I started my love of music at a very young age,  and took a rather self-guided tour across genre’s - from Classical Voice to rock and roll, to Caribbean and African influenced music, to pop and R&B / Blues… and found that all areas music offer different opportunities and creativity as a musician.  he blues encompass so much opportunity for interpretation and creativity.

How do you describe Lara & The Bluz Dawgz sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

Lara and the Bluz Dawgz span a wide range across the blues, R&B area of music - we have such a rich combined background of musical styles, that our writing team loves to explore the best of everything we’ve experienced as musicians before - and bring it to our own music. Our philosophy tends to be ‘try it‘- then decide what works best for the song overall. The freedom to create and express where the music wants to go is the ultimate driving force behind what we produce.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues/R&B and Rock n’ Roll researches and experiments?

The musicians that make up Lara & The Bluz Dawgz have all played together previously within the Nashville music scene - we genuinely like and respect each other, so branching into an area to create our own sound just came naturally. Having the resources to such great musicians, and an extremely talented Sound Engineer in the group made it almost ridiculous NOT to try our own thing. Gregg, the bass player has such a strong love for, and understanding of the core of what makes up the blues - he was the motivation behind the initial set up of what became the Bluz Dawgz. (I would walk around the house making up jingles or singing to our pets…) and after some persuasion he convinced me to ‘just try it’ - it’s been a real adventure to play in and outside the lines of what the music world considers ‘blues’ ever since.

"I started my love of music at a very young age,  and took a rather self-guided tour across genre’s - from Classical Voice to rock and roll, to Caribbean and African influenced music, to pop and R&B / Blues…. and found that all areas music offer different opportunities and creativity as a musician. The blues encompass so much opportunity for interpretation and creativity."

How has the Blues, Jazz and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

All 3 of these forms of music have had a huge influence on my formation as a person from a very young age. I grew up on the music my parents played from their era, the ‘new’ music on the radio and whatever I could listen to from a very young age. By age two – I could sing most songs on our radio. Music is an expression of our communities, our reactions to what we see and experience in our world, and whether we are moved to comment or notate anything specific from our time, or comment on the ongoing state of being a human. Like most people, I can experience that phenomenon of being transported right back to where I was in time when the first few chords of a specific song ring out …

How do you describe OUT HERE IN THE BLUE sound and songbook? What characterize album’s philosophy?

The collective of ‘Out Here in the Blue‘ is a reflection of where we are song writers, musicians, and is a peek into the creative process for the band as we grow and stretch the boundaries of what we do. There is a distinctly R&B / Jazzy feel on some of the tracks which was such a fun ingredient to add to the music, and stayed true to the feel of the individual songs and the story they were telling. The album is a reflection of the band’s philosophy – I don’t even know what that would be in it’s entirety since our group is well traveled in the musical circles. I would say that our approach is always made up of musical progressions that take us on a journey - and that’s what we share. As writers, we are focused on a ‘glimpse in time’ into a story – or feeling which allows everyone to relate and apply their own interpretations or memories so it becomes personal to them.

Are there any memories from OUT HERE IN THE BLUE studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

The band has always had a mantra for the studio: Make it fun, or go home. We work with an outstanding sound engineer and dear friend in a cozy sound studio – (The Song Closet, Nashville TN) sometimes fitting 6+ people at a time – so things have to stay friendly! We have a layered approach to recording, but the core band is always there – to move through the songs together and still allow some last-minute changes, additions…etc. That is the fun part – once a song has come together we still leave a little room for improvements. For Out Here in the Blue – from a vocal perspective – the songs were so put together, that the final vocals were completed in under 2 hours!

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

Take the ‘business’ out of the music industry - remove the companies who want to recreate the same sound, image, and PR and just let the music be what touches people.

"Our philosophy tends to be ‘try it‘- then decide what works best for the song overall. The freedom to create and express where the music wants to go is the ultimate driving force behind what we produce."

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice has given you?

I had the opportunity a while ago to record a couple of original songs for a friend, and the Producer in the small recording studio had such a great ear and base of knowledge for the nuances and singing styles that make “Pop” pop,  and “Blues” blues, that it opened a new world of interpretation for me as a vocalist. With a background of Classical, Pop, Rock, Country… This was a whole new approach to creating your own styling and sound within any genre of music. 

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

Most recently when the band played  BB Kings in Nashville - featuring the songs off our 2015 album ‘Howlin’ …and a few off the first CD ‘Devil Moon’ the reception we received from the audience in our own town,  a very competitive music atmosphere,  was enlightening. People took the time to approach us and tell us which was their favorite song - or what really moved them about our songs - it was a bit humbling in an incredible way. We are still reeling just a little from the welcome reception our music is receiving across the globe (!) To think something we created is touching that many people across the world - we hope to follow up globally as well soon, with some live dates.

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

I miss the true raw talent of the musicians mixed with the charm and subtlety in the lyrics the bygone era’s supported. A smokey, torchey love song could convey just the right mood and meaning, without needing to express a step by step lyric. Sometimes telling enough of the story through the expression and feel left enough to the imagination that you could personalize and find your own meaning.

Make an account of the case of the blues in MUSIC CITY. what touched (emotionally) you from the local circuits?

Nashville TN – for so long has been the ‘country music‘ hub in most circles and within the media. The truth is there are some amazing clubs and stages here that feature artists from R&B, Blues, Indie Blues, Folk… In the past couple years alone – the population has grown here and so has the demand for Blues and all styles of music. What I am touched by is the way all forms of music here are embraced, welcomed, and welcomed back again! It’s so common it’s almost comical that a well-known country player will jump on stage just to jam with an A List Blues player, or R&B band will call up someone in the audience they happen to know is a phenomenal musician to sit in. The artistic expression in this city crosses all the lines, and as a result, Blues and other genres often reach a much wider and varied audience than they even know!

A meeting point for musicians, Nashville, TN is ahead of its time as it embraces. Why this city is the MUSIC CITY?

Nashville has a rich heritage and a history that lent itself to being a perfect gathering place for musicians - the city is rich with musicians who are the best of the best - part of it is the raw talent, part of it the desire to keep improving your own skills here - whether you are inspired by someone you see out playing,  or given an opportunity join in with a well-seasoned group of musicians or even the straight up competition for every opportunity to play -it drives most musicians who come and stay to be the best they be at what they do. Being surrounded by people who have finely tuned musicianship drives the group overall to a higher level of creativity. One huge perk of the city is that often if you see someone performing that inspires and motivates you - often times they approachable! Why not learn from those you admire?!

What does to be a female artist in a “Man’s World” as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I think the days of “Man’s World” will always exist in the landmarks and pathway of the blues - because so many blues legends who paved the way for this music were men. But I have never found it difficult being a female singer in a blues / contemporary blues field - I suspect the women came along before me have won that battle and as the definition of what constitutes the blues continues to expand and grow - it continues to welcome in women and their rake on the blues.

What is the impact of Blues and R&B music and culture to the racial and socio-cultural implications?

I think blues has always allowed an element of freedom within the execution and expression of the music - that is relatable on so many levels to all human beings. The content and the way the right melody can capture your attention, alter your mood or relate a story that feels familiar and personal. Elvis Presley introduced his take on the blues so many years ago with honest, real songs that knew no barriers and open the world by exposing them to the ‘blues’ …later labeled rock and roll. I think many artists since that have come along have blown the lid wide open in area of Blues - anyone from any race or socio-cultural can experience love, joy, pain and sorrow - there are no barriers to life and experience.

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

Wow to choose one day/place? I don’t think I can - all the things you experience in life make you who you are and groom you for the next adventures to come - I really tend to look forward, anticipating the next stage and really, how do you assign importance to one day over another, life is contiguous.

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