The Bayou Boyz Story
There's a lot to say about The Bayou Boyz, but it all begins with a Wednesday night gig at a cool dive in the Hollywood District of Portland, Oregon.
The Bayou Boyz grew out of a six-plus year gig at Blackwell’s, which Curtis Salgado used to say was as close to New Orleans as anyone could get in the city. The hump day hijinks of Soul Cookin’ – an all-star lineup featuring Lloyd Jones – drew consistent and growing crowds on Wednesday nights. Although drum duties passed, from the great Carlton Jackson to the dynamic Brian Foxworth, the band remained relatively unchanged until keyboardist, Dover Weinberg, joined the legendary Bluesman, Robert Cray. Dover still stayed in the lineup, though substitutes stepped in when he was on tour, as was the case for the other players. Soul Cookin’ was not so much a band as it was good musician friends getting together on a regular basis to play what they loved.
At one point, both Lloyd and Dover were both out on tour and bassist, David Kahl, who had originally developed the gig, sought out subs. He asked himself what voices would best complement each other and two names kept jumping out at him, Steve Kerin and Mark “Shark” Schatzkamer. They didn’t know each other, but something said, “Go for it!” and the call was made. Meeting each other on the bandstand, the magic that followed was immediately noticed. One comment from the audience was “like being in a concert”, followed by “this should be a band”. Passing it off as a good, fun, momentary romp – what’s the point of starting a band when everyone’s already involved with others? – things went back to normal, until chance provided an opportunity to see if the first meeting was a fluke. It wasn’t. In fact, it was better – enough that Jan DeLorme, owner of Blackwell’s, offered them their choice of a regular night. Sundays were the only consistently available days, later in the afternoons, and, even though Blackwell’s regularly closed on that day, Jan agreed to open the place for, as she called it, “my band”. To this day, though she has passed away, the members of The Bayou Boyz feel they are Jan’s band.
The Bayou Boyz figured, a good run had come to an end, but fans would have none of it and, as if on cue, they scouted new venues, making a pitch to a couple that were receptive. Demand was so strong and the venues so compelling for these guys that they had to sort out the choices. Unfortunately, demand for Mark, as a teacher, was also high and he let go of his full-time commitment to the band (Mark, thankfully, still has occasion to play with his old band mates and it’s always a treat.). This left the guys to find someone remarkably special to fill his slot. While there were several great players, all sorts of considerations had to be taken – a vocal repertoire, availability, musical and personal compatibility.
Enter Dan Berkery, leader of the Rose City Kings, Steve Kerin’s band mate in that and other projects, the ideal fit, and one that’s more comfortable as time passes. Dan has since been featured on festival stages with The Bayou Boyz, including Waterfront Blues Festival, Winter Blues Festival, and the Inner City Blues Festival. Check him out in the perfect, intimate roadhouse environment, Sundays at Spirits Pub, 5-8 pm.
Mondays at Mekong Bistro, a dance-oriented, yet concert type venue, posed a problem, however. Dan was unavailable, so the guys came up with a plan, something they dubbed “Bayou Boyz – Family Style”. Guitar and, when possible, vocal duties were put into a rotation of virtuosos – players like Jason JT Thomas (Lisa Mann), Hershel Yatovitz (Chris Izaak), Peter Dammann (Paul deLay, DK Stewart), Mark Bowden (Next Waltz, Karen Ann, etc.), Doug Rowell (Thunder Brothers), and more. One stood out as the “one”, based on a combination of considerations. Jimmy Russell, an exciting young player whose range is expansive, accepted the offer of becoming an official member and there have been no disappointments. Jimmy is well-known for his residencies at Goodfoot, Al’s Den, Laurelthirst, and other popular Portland venues.
The Bayou Boyz continue to include and expand their musical family, whether as a casual invite to join when they happen in on a gig or, more formally, in special event situations. They offer specialized quartet formats, with either Dan or Jimmy, a deluxe version with both, and collaborative combinations that include Lloyd Jones, Ty Curtis, Kris Deelane, and more, even a revue format that can seamlessly cover larger special events and festivals for several hours.
What does all this mean for you, the fan? A lot of the expected and a whole bunch that’s new, each time you see this band. It means a level of variety that will hold your interest, a high level of proficiency and practice. Of course, it also means the highest production values, no matter the setting. There’s a solid organization behind these guys, a one-stop resource for everything production related, from staging, security, sound, band equipment, and lights, to marketing, sponsorship assistance programs, community outreach, and even catering.