Blues-rock sax player/vocalist Evelyn Rubio announces a May 1st release date for her new CD, Crossing Borders, on the SeaSpeed Productions label. Produced by Grammy-winner Larry Fulcher, who also contributes his dynamic bass playing to the new disc, Crossing Borders features musical contributions from a host of A-list musicians, including Fulcher’s Phantom Blues Band buddies Mike Finnigan (keys), Tony Braunagel (drums) and Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), as well as former Spirit bandmates Al Staehely (guitar) and Mark Andes. Added to that mix are world-class guitarists David Grissom (John Mellencamp, Joe Ely, The Allman Brothers Band, Dixie Chicks) and Josh Sklair (Etta James) and it’s obvious that Houston-based Latina Ms. Rubio has cooked up one salsa-fying, soulful stew of blues, R&B and rock to satisfy any musical cookbook. It also includes three bonus tracks sung in Spanish to round out the album.
“Crossing Borders is an album in which I allowed myself to explore different sounds from what I had been doing,” Rubio admits. “Blues, Rock, Jazz, and a little Country weave love and heartbreak stories, not being able to understand pain and injustice and the pride of recognizing where I came from and where I am going. This combination happened with the guidance of Grammy-award winner music producer Larry Fulcher, who gave me the opportunity of recording in Los Angeles with tremendous musicians from the Phantom Blues Band. Also, we had the participation of Etta James’s guitar player of more than 25 years, John Sklair – wow! For me, learning from musicians who have worked with the best in this industry was such a great experience, and gave the bluesy sound to the songs ‘Mistake,’ ‘I Don’t Understand,’ ‘Just Like a Drug’ and ‘Still on Your Side.’ ”
Looking for a rockier sound, Larry decided to record some songs in Austin with another group of musicians who gave that one-of-a-kind vibe only Austin has. Musicians like the extraordinary guitar player David Grissom, alongside Kirk Covington on drums, Red Young on the keyboard, Zach Person on the second guitar, and Larry Fulcher on the bass gave life to ‘What a Way to Go,’ ‘One Last Time’ and ‘70s band Rhinoceros’ song, ‘When You Say You Are Sorry.’ Their energy gave me the punch to deliver my interpretation with my voice and saxophone.
The album’s title, Crossing Borders, was also inspired by the song “Border Town.” It was recorded by the legendary Houston music engineer Andy Bradley at Wire Studios. It was one of the first songs I recorded by my own at the start of this album, in which I had the incredible contribution of two members from the 70s rock band, Spirit, Al Staehely on guitar and Mark Andes on the bass, accompanied by Brandon Jackson on drums, Barry Seelen on the keys and the phenomenal Kenny Cordray on the guitar, who sadly we lost a few weeks after this recording. Two of his last songs on this album were “Border Town” and “He Did Me Wrong But He Did it Right,” written by Al Staehely, himself, and Patti Dahlstrom.
Born and raised in the barrios of Mexico City, Evelyn Rubio has now delivered her musical message to stages all over the world. It all began with Evelyn being introduced to the stage as a very young girl, later progressing to appearances on leading children’s television programs in her native country, where she performed as a singer, dancer and actor. Next came musical theater, where she landed the role of Mary Magdalene in a Canadian production of Jesus Christ Superstar. While all of this was going on, Evelyn’s soul was being touched by the music of American blues, soul, jazz rock and R&B – and the saxophone (tenor, alto and soprano). Evelyn left the stage to tour with a rock band in Mexico, honing her skills on the sax and building those now-famous musical chops that currently have everyone in he business raving about her skill-set.
As her range and passion for the arts continued to grow, Evelyn knew that to really achieve what she wanted for her career, America was the place to be. Shortly after arriving in Houston, she met the legendary Calvin Owens, who had been B.B. King’s band leader, composer and lead trumpet for many years. With an introduction from famed rocker Al Staehely she got an invitation to audition for the Calvin Owens Orchestra, who offered her a spot in the band and a multi-year record deal. From there, she began recording and performing as a front person vocalist and sax soloist with his 18-piece orchestra.
After meeting another B.B. King Band luminary, James Bolden, Evelyn recorded the album Hombres in two separate versions, one in English and one in Spanish. Hombres went on to debut on the Billboard at #1 Latin Pop chart, #3 Top Latin and #6 Blues charts. Tours in Europe and other world markets followed, as Evelyn Rubio’s star continued to shine. And now, she has brought it all back home in the celebration of her new CD, Crossing Borders, crossing boundaries throughout the disc in both music and styles, singing in both English and Spanish on the album’s 15 tracks, including a totally unique take on the Latin music standard, “Besame Mucho,” transforming it into a Delta blues classic-in-the making.
“Finishing with a high note, the album includes a song from the Latin music repertoire, ‘Besame Mucho,’ in which I wanted to clarify that Blues can be sung in Spanish and a Latin song can be sung in Blues,” Rubio says. “I have had this idea in my head for a long time and thanks to Larry Fulcher’s musical flexibility and willingness, Mighty Orq’s fantastic work on guitar and Sonny Boy Terry’s harmonica, this concept was achieved. I am very proud and happy to present this project that would have not been possible to carry out without every single musician’s talent, energy, experience, and willingness to share their brilliance. And where would I be without the songwriters, engineers, and producers? The answer is nowhere. Now, it is here for you to enjoy…”
*Feature image Monika Watkins