|Kitchen Table Blues, Vol. 1 is a selection of five tunes from The Reverend Shawn Amos’ 2016-17 YouTube series of the same name. Recorded live in his California kitchen, The Rev is heard reinventing his favorite songs in his own trademark “joyful blues” style.
Says Amos, “Kitchen Table Blues was a chance for me to explore two of my favorite loves: food and music. Both have such a unique way to create community. Both are so elemental. I loved the idea of inviting musicians, friends, artists, performers over to my home, cooking for them and then gathering around the table to share songs.”
The Rev cooked and sang songs at his kitchen table over 90 Sundays. During that time, he was visited by Mindi Abair (who produced his 2015 release, The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You) famed soul singer, Charles Wright, L.A. blues singers, Lester Lands and Jean McClain, and New Orleans brass band, The Mudbug Brass Band among others.
Here, Amos shares stories behind the songs on volume one.
“Ooh La La”
This has always been my favorite Faces song. Its melancholy and vulnerability are really lovely. I have a fascination with reclaiming ‘60s and ‘70s British rock songs as blues songs. I say, “reclaim” because even though I am indebted to the Brits for bringing back our music, I am always a bit angry that the blues roots of these songs get forgotten underneath the rock swagger. Kitchen Table Blues allowed me to explore these songs from my childhood and capture them for myself.
Alabama Shakes is one of the bands that keeps me hopeful for the future American live music. The song is pretty greasy already, but I like the horns and ‘60s Atlantic Records vibe. I’ve always seen our show as being the perfect opener for Alabama Shakes. This is our audition, I guess.
Neil Young famously called Devo white plastic soul (or something like that). It really is a kind a funk tune. This is from a stretch of Kitchen Table Blues episodes where we reinvented ‘80s songs from The Clash, Elvis Costello, and others I’m forgetting. It was to get this tune dirty. We’ve played it live a few times and it always amuses people.
“Have Love Will Travel”
This one has become a mainstay of our live show. Now that I think of it, a fair amount of our live covers was born in my kitchen. It was originally recorded by a Washington state garage band from the ‘60s called The Sonics. Theirs was pretty manic. Like most things around the kitchen table, we slow it down.
“Jesus Gonna Be Here”
I actually discovered this Tom Waits song on a glorious album by the Holmes Brothers. They were on my mind this morning in the kitchen.
The Reverend Shawn Amos, son of Wally Amos (Famous Amos cookie brand), attributes his diverse background to growing up in the colorful Hollywood landscape.
Prior to becoming a blues preacher — and ordained minister with the Universal Life Church — Amos was an A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment and vice president of A&R at Shout! Factory, where he produced and recorded multiple Grammy-nominated projects. He produced broadcast, DVD and audio titles for legacy artists ranging from Heart to Quincy Jones, for whom Amos later ran the Listen Up Foundation. Throughout Amos’ childhood and adulthood, his mother suffered from schizoaffective disorder and ultimately committed suicide in 2003. The trauma of the event and his subsequent discovery of her early singing career were the inspiration behind his 2005 album release, Thank You Shirl-ee May. Amos has released seven albums of music, including his 2014 release, “The Reverend Shawn Amos Tells It,” a collection of blues originals and covers that received much acclaim from the blues & roots world, the sophomore The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You in 2015 and the 2018 album “The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down.”
Amos discovered blues through Peter Guralnick’s Feel Like Going Home trilogy. He was at NYU film school and spent his summers driving south exploring the places in Peter’s book. “I fell in love with the stories and history, then I got hooked on the music. Howlin’ Wolf was first, Willie Dixon followed, then Junior Wells, Muddy Waters. It was virtually all I played during my college career,” says Amos. “My entire DNA is wrapped up in these songs. They have given me a sense of self and a home I never had.”
More at http://www.shawnamos.com/bio.