The Wired Band is one of the most power-packed bands, trio or not, in the Northwest, and they have won the bragging rights to compete to the IBC in Memphis, representing the Washington Blues Society for the second straight year. And that, my friends, is no small feat considering the broad range of talent in the area.
Kevin Sutton is a High School teacher by day, and the Wired Band’s front-man by night. With his infectious personality and grand stage performance, it must be just as thrilling to go back to school for a day to attend one of Kevin’s classes.
Kevin is anything but a mild-mannered social studies teacher. He wears the same suits and puts on the same show at school as he does for gigs — just a chalk board instead of a guitar.
As Kevin says, “It’s ‘5 sets a day’ and it is exhausting. I also play a variety of instruments while standing at my door between classes. I work at a very diverse school. Eastern European kids dig it when I play the Balalaika. I just got an Egyptian Oud that I am having repaired. That will be my next ‘show’. I work for applause in the class room just like I do on the stage. I am trying to think of things that would draw interest.”
Kevin went to Saint Louis in his 20s to try and discover what American music was, and it was there that he became a part of a very vibrant music scene.
“Some of the great old-school Blues guys were still around then that you could sit in with, like James Crutchfield, Big Bad Smithy, Bennie Smith, and Henry Townsend.” Says Kevin, “I was lucky enough to also get a chance to play piano for Blues legend Tommy Bankhead for a period as well as the well-known bluesmen Jimmy Lee Kennett and Steve Pecaro. That education gave me a firm foundation in what the music we call Blues means. This music is a reflection of people’s lives up and down the Mississippi river and these people play the way they live. There is a musical honesty to these river people that rubbed off on me. No one more so than Johnny Johnson, who I was actually able to hire as a sideman, an idea that I still can’t quite believe happened. This was in the years before and after he was “rediscovered” by Keith Richards during the process of producing the music for Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday movie, “Hail Hail Rock and Roll.” Johnny did not change one bit after finding renewed success. Chuck himself would regularly visit local clubs in the Delmar Loop area of town. At the same time that the blues scene was going strong, another element of American music was in its infancy there as Jeff Tweedy was beginning his career with a band called Uncle Tupelo. He would go on to form Wilco and make an indelible mark on the world of music. There are many stories like this that were, and are, still happening today in St. Louis. As a community of musicians, back then we were all searching for that magic that so many found. This combination of music, and musicians, allowed me to understand what is so great about our music, our American music.”
Kevin is backed up by Rick Jacobson on drums & vocals, who was in the Seattle Imperials Drum and Bugle Corp that toured the United States every summer, all summer long, from age 15 to 21. It had a profound impact on him, and he married one of the female rifle twirlers that toured with them.
Keith Bakke is on bass & vocals. Keith was Leroy Bell’s bass player for several years and is a vintage airplane pilot who owns a Stensin Station wagon (a type of plane with a car name). He has also toured the U.S. western states in a revival show.
The Wired Band puts on a diverse and entertaining show from start to finish, sporting strains of Blues, Rock and Rock-a-Billy. Their stage isn’t just where they park the drum kit; the Wired Band shows up to play the whole room, and up and down the bar itself will serve just as nicely as “the stage”. Check out the exciting videos at Sweet Blues Northwest!
Having said all that, I want to feature one of their original tunes that grabbed my attention during a recent outing to Eddie’s Trackside. It’s one of those tunes that a true blue Blues fan will certainly appreciate & enjoy.