Rockin' Jukes to rock Ogden

Thursday , May 29, 2014 - 3:15 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

Some folks are just happier when they’ve got a serious case of the blues — that’s the way it is for Fabio Barbosa, Jim Derrickson, Gary Tada, and Brad Wheeler, who make up The Rockin’ Jukes band.

“Gary likes to play a lot of swing blues and jump blues,” said Wheeler. “I like to play a lot of Mississippi blues and Chicago blues. Jim likes Chicago and soul blues, and Fabio is happy to play drums on whatever we’re doing.”

They’ll be playing the blues, and spreading the happiness, Saturday night at The Wine Cellar, 2550 Washington Blvd. (basement), Ogden. The 21 and older show costs $5, and starts at about 9 p.m.

The Rockin’ Jukes, based in Salt Lake City, have been together as a group for three years, but as friends for longer. Barbosa says he and Tada, the guitar player, have known each other for at least 15 years. He’s known Wheeler, a former Ogdenite who plays harmonica and slide guitar, for eight to 10 years. Derrickson, the bass player, is the newest member of the group.

“We do a lot of blues jams,” said Barbosa. “We know each other because of that, and we have a lot in common.”

Blues may be the common link, but each of the musicians has a different take on it.

“When you say ‘blues,’ a lot of people think it’s one genre. ‘There are at least 500 shades of the blues,’ ” Wheeler said, quoting poet and performer Gil Scott-Heron. “I believe there are 500 kinds of blues music, too.”

The blues were born in the southern United States, in African American communities, mixing everything from the songs of slaves to the sounds of an Islamic call to prayer. As the blues spread across the country, it took on regional flavors.

The Chicago blues, enjoyed by Wheeler and Derrickson, developed as blues players moved north to work in the cities.

“A lot of Chicago blues is based on a 12-bar meter that comes from Irish music, sort of an African American interpretation of those structures,” Wheeler said.

Mississippi and Chicago blues are pretty closely related, he said.

“Some blues have a lot more notes — songs like “Get out of that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans,’ ” said Wheeler. “Mississippi blues is more droney and hypnotic; Chicago blues is more driving and rhythmic, and jump blues is definitely for hepcats.”

Or, put another way ...

“Mississippi blues is dancing by yourself, Chicago blues is dancing close to someone else, and jump blues is swinging with your girlfriend,” Wheeler said.

The blues, and its many shades, spread around the world as well. Barbosa first heard the blues, at age 14, in his native Brazil.

“In my household, my mom always listened to music,” he said, and her choices included everything from gospel to blues.

One of Barbosa’s early influences was bluesman B.B. King.

“When I was living in Brazil, he had a concert. After, he went back to the hotel and in the lobby there was a jam,” he said, adding that King invited him to join in. “I jumped onto the stage and played with him.”

Now Barbosa is happy playing the blues with The Rockin’ Jukes.

“The Rockin’ Jukes are a really good band,” he said, adding up each musician’s years of experience and putting it at more than 100 years. “They’re very good musicians, not just people who like to play the blues.”

The band starts each gig with a written play list, but they don’t always stick with it.

“I would say that if we got to where maybe we could be pigeon-holed on one song, we would probably drop it,” Wheeler said. “Part of the thing about playing the blues is that you’re always growing, learning and improvising ... we’re going to push each other to play the best we can.”

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright.

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