|“Kitchen Table Blues Vol. 2” 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 two.
“Sweet Home Chicago” (with Jean McClain)
I know it may be a sin, but I have never been a fan of the modern version of “Sweet Home Chicago.” It veers too close to bar band blues for me. Johnson’s original, however, is one of the most plaintive tunes around. Like all his stuff, it’s so lonely and haunting. We had to record Robert Johnson in the kitchen. Sister Jean McClain makes it all the much sweeter. She was our first guest in the kitchen. I discovered her singing backing for Hugh Laurie. She has such a light.
“Li’l Liza Jane” (featuring Mudbug Brass Band)
I’ve known the Mudbug Brass Band awhile. After four years of having my head in the Chicago blues sand, they pulled me into the Crescent City. I always love playing with them. This set a record for most musicians in my kitchen at any one time.
“Bright Lights, Big City” (featuring Mindi Abair)
Mindi and I sang this on the Loves You album. There’s actually a fun music video of the studio version of this song. Mindi is family. We both started our blues journeys together. I’ll always be in her debt.
“Whatcha Gonna Do” (featuring Lester Lands)
One of my first concerts was Pablo Cruise. Not the proudest of moments, but this song always stuck with me. My dad had offices on the A&M Records lot where Pablo Cruise was signed. I use to get free vinyl and this album was part of my pre-teen collection. It’s funny what crawls out of your subconscious when you’re at the kitchen table, My friend, Allen Larman, introduced me to Lester Lands who appeared in my music video for “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home).” He is so smooth. So much fun to have as a duet partner. Lester also sang a bit on my Breaks It Down album.
“Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean” (featuring Piper Amos)
This is one of my happiest moments as a musician and, more importantly, as a dad. Piper is my oldest. There was a time when I thought she might follow in the family trade. Thankfully, she got smart. She enters BU this fall as a pre-med student. She still has some vocal chops though.
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.