Joe Keyes and The Late Bloomer Band
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Joe Keyes and The Late Bloomer Band

Westminster, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Westminster, Maryland, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band R&B Funk

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"Joe Keyes and The Late Bloomer Band Live at Ottobar March 5th 2020"

Two band leaders come to mind immediately when thinking of the music industry term “commanding the stage.” Both are in control, but in completely different, yet superb ways

James Brown was definitely in charge in front of his band while shouting out stops and starts and accents and changes. If a musician missed a cue, it came off the player’s paycheck. Then, there is the opposite way of being in command with the glorious George Clinton who is more of the main mischief maker at a party of his own creation. Joe Keyes, the leader of the collective known as the Late Bloomers, is absolutely in the latter classification. He is the Peter Pan of P-Funk, the Granddad of Groove, but mostly, he is an ambassador of joy. And he brought his festive collection musicians to Baltimore on Thursday night.

Like the other two band leaders, Joe Keyes doesn’t play an instrument and considers himself more of a “conductor.” Indeed, during the performance, he was much more in charge of the dynamics of the songs than any chord changes as he would give hand signals and shout out volume changes. Much of this has to do with the most important aspect of the show which is create a feeling. The “vocal vibologist,” as he calls himself, clearly feels that the positive atmosphere is on an equal plane with the music itself. In fact, one might think of the music as a soundtrack to the message of love he expounds. This is little wonder considering Mr. Keyes came up listening to and working with the likes of Gil Scott Heron and George Clinton. But this is not a collection of older musicians being nostalgic.

At first glance, one might guess that the average age of the band members to be half his, which probably suits him fine. The tight-knit band laid down hip grooves but were connecting with each other emotionally as well as musically. It was as if each chord was accompanied with a smile and nod to a fellow funkster. After all, spreading joy is timeless and the ambassador will make sure a new generation will continue to provide the sound to move hearts along with feet. Keep an eye out for this force of bliss. - The Subtle Sounds


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Joe Keyes will be the first to tell you that he is a late bloomer. A lifelong musician who got his start DJing in middle school, it wasn’t until 2009, as he was approaching his 50s, that Keyes found his band, and his true sound. The Freehold, NJ, native formed Joe Keyes & The Late Bloomer Band around an ensemble of young musicians equally adept at playing the funk, R&B, soul, rock and jazz flavors Keyes throws at them.

Equal parts front man, poet, and conductor, Keyes draws on the influences of Miles Davis, Gil Scott-Heron, Sun Ra, and early Parliament-Funkadelic when bands were led by strong, almost otherworldly leaders. As the nine-piece band grooves through the musical spectrum, Keyes cues the horns and the solos and directs the dynamics from epic crescendos to soft melodies. Add to the mix his deep, commanding vocals, which are punctuated by tales of love, family, and addiction from Keyes’ six decades on earth.

The band’s vibe and sound – honed over years of theatrical, improvisational shows with stretched out solos and vocal monologues – pays homage to the sounds of the ’60s through the ’80s with Keyes’ own mash-ups. Alongside the band’s original music are concoctions that could draw the horn lines from one song, guitar parts from another, and the bass and drums from yet another song. It’s a way for Keyes to honor his musical heroes while putting his original spin on their classic sounds.

This mix of fresh, funky originals and mash-ups shines bright on the forthcoming debut album from Joe Keyes & The Late Bloomer Band, “Tales from the Griot of Westminster.” The nine-track album gets its name from the rural town on the outskirts of Baltimore that Keyes calls home and from which most of his members hail. Outside of band practice, Keyes can often be found holding court around the campfire, mentoring young musicians, and telling them stories from his whirlwind life.

Band Members