Jules Leyhe – Your First Rodeo

YourFirstRodeoThis ain’t your granddaddy’s blues. Heck, it ain’t even your daddy’s blues. Guitarist Jules Leyhe is on an entirely different trip. His forthcoming “Your First Rodeo” is a whimsical mashup of blues, hip hop, funk, fusion, jazz, rock and Latin music dropping September 17 on Monkey Finger Records. Producing the set with Protist, the Oakland, Calif.-based slide guitar slinger wrote the bucking bronco of an album that obstinately refuses to be categorized.

An audacious collection evading lasso, “Your First Rodeo” brilliantly juxtaposes futuristic elements with downhome “comfort” sounds. Leyhe paired inventive sonicscapes with soulful blues guitar play. Conceived and constructed using vivid fantasy, the guitarman wondered what it would sound like to pair diametrically opposed artists – or, in this case, use signature elements of the imagined artists’ unique style – on one recording. Picture Cardi B sitting in with the Buena Vista Social Club. Or Jimi Hendrix playing in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or Duane Allan jamming with jazz pianist Gil Evans.

“I wanted to create music based off of collaborations that I’ve pictured of many of my favorite artists who never actually worked together. The clearest example is picturing Jimi Hendrix playing with the psychedelic Beatles era, a wild pairing that never actually happened but sure is fun to imagine and try to create with my own flavor. My bandmates’ fantastic playing and imaginations helped me reach for this sort of potential for pairing abstract, disparate musical ideas and getting away with it, or at least creating something unique to us. This album encapsulates so many musical idioms with a gritty, urban, fun feel of an old-soul Oakland band,” said Leyhe who was empowered by his Family Jules Band – keyboardist Ian McArdle, saxophonist Nancy Wright, bassist Murph Murphy and drummer Isaac Schwartz.

Enabling Leyhe’s fantastical vision is a powerful protagonist in horn player Shane Cox, who deftly uses layers of trumpet, trombone and sousaphone to illuminate the intricately textured tracks with color, might and majesty. The horns leap off the page, providing melodic framework for Leyhe’s shrieking slide guitar, embellishing dexterous fretwork and spiking rampaging guitar assaults.

Preceding the album release, “Start Your Engines,” an intense two-plus minute gauzy guitar workout, will be released as a single early next month and can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/julesleyhe/start-your-engines-1. The cut is a snapshot of the eclectic fabric of “Your First Rodeo” that is devoid of a singular narrative or storyline. It’s a collection created solely for entertainment and leaves the interpretation of the music up to the listener.

Leyhe played two sold-out shows at The Sound Room in Oakland with his band over the July 4th holiday weekend, their first live concerts post-quarantine. Less than a week before the stay-at-home order was issued in the Bay Area last year, he was on the Paramount Theatre stage in Oakland shredding alongside legendary blues guitarists Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan. The Berklee College of Music graduate who studied blues and slide guitar has also performed with Huey Lewis, Fantastic Negrito, Chris Cain and Taj Mahal, the latter of whom he recently interviewed for a feature in the August issue of Guitar Player. The magazine featured Leyhe in a 2018 story and accompanying instructional video about how to play like Allman, writing that the young bluesman is “a wicked slide player” who has “old-soul sensibilities, go-for-bust attitude, and deep understanding of the nuances of Duane Allman’s style.”

Leyhe, who will perform the National Anthem next month solo prior to an Oakland A’s vs. San Francisco Giants game and will lead his band in a tribute to Mahal at the prestigious SFJAZZ next May, has a message for those who are new to his work.

“Since this is your first rodeo, hopefully you’ll find the new album to be a spirited musical adventure through wildly animated tunes. With no lyrics and only instruments and textural/environmental sounds, we hope that the listener can hop on board our sonic journey and come up with a personal meaning for each song. It’s supposed to be a lot of fun – like a Marvel Comics movie and like the album cover, which is filled with tongue-in-cheek, music nerd-type humor and entertainment.”

“Your First Rodeo” contains the following songs:

“Taco Truck”

“Fight The Night”

“High Street”

“The Journey”

“Start Your Engines”

“The Planetarium”

“Deep Sleep”

“Sad But True”

For more information, please visit www.julesleyhemusic.com.

Source: Great Scott Productions

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