New era of NRBQ and new CD ushered in by Terry Adams
Terry Adams, visionary, driving force, and “untamed genius of the keyboards” for the great American band NRBQ since its inception more than 40 years ago, resumes his life’s work with the release of a new studio album, Keep This Love Goin’ by NRBQ, due out July 19, 2011. Recorded with the band he formed in 2007 — Scott Ligon on guitar and vocals, Pete Donnelly on bass and vocals, and Conrad Choucroun on drums, formerly known as The Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet — Keep This Love Goin’ features 12 unforgettable songs, from the opener “Boozoo and Leona,” inspired by Adams’ relationship with the great zydeco musician Boozoo Chavis and his wife (Adams produced three albums for and performed with Chavis), to the instrumental closer “Red’s Piano,” a tune written by Piano Red and recorded in one take in that unmistakable NRBQ style. Adams learned the song from Red himself, when the Atlanta legend visited him at his upstate New York home in the 1970s.
In between is the unique Q mix of rock, pop and jazz, and of course no album of theirs would be complete without a classic Adams twist — here, an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor,” done as a country tune called “In Every Dream.” Original compositions from Adams, Ligon, and Donnelly, written separately and together, and stellar playing throughout make for a true band effort. Former NRBQ bandmate Tom Ardolino provided the front cover art (and sits in on drums on two tracks).
“I found musicians who not only understand NRBQ’s past and traditions but who are open to future impossibilities,” says Adams. “It’s important that their reason for being musicians in the first place is real.”
Chicago’s Scott Ligon is on guitar and vocals. The multi-instrumentalist is, says the Nashville Scene, “an unqualified badass — he echoes Adams’ gift for balancing melody with dissonance.” Philadelphia-based Pete Donnelly, also a member of the Figgs, handles bass and vocals. And from Austin comes drummer Conrad Choucroun, who has played with numerous Texas bands and musicians (Bob Schneider, Kelly Willis, the Damnations, among others).
Adams announced in March 2011 the return of the NRBQ name along with the release of the new album. In the years since 2004, when the most recent Q line-up last appeared regularly onstage, Adams has been steadily rebuilding his health after a cancer diagnosis, and rebuilding the band after the other members decided to form their own band (Joey and Johnny Spampinato) or retire from the road (Tom Ardolino).
Why did he initially call his band the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet in 2007 instead of NRBQ?
“I didn’t want to call the band NRBQ right away,” says Adams “because I didn’t want Scott, Pete, and Conrad subjected to unfair comparisons. It was clear in the spring of 2009 that we had it onstage, but I wanted to wait until we had more road experience and a new studio album with new songs that we wrote and recorded together. You can hear it on Keep This Love Goin’. The time is right.”
“I’m finally free to let go and move NRBQ forward. That’s what I’ve been doing since I was 18. With all due respect to the past, NRBQ is a living, breathing, ongoing sound. I never intended it to ever become a trip down memory lane.”
The first weekend of April found the band onstage for their first live shows, now billed as “the New NRBQ.” Said the Albany Times-Union, “ . . . the current incarnation lived up to the legacy. They reclaimed not only the vast NRBQ catalog of songs and loose-as-a-goose sound, but also the band’s wildly unpredictable spirit on stage . . . their willingness to step way out on a limb has always been one of NRBQ’s most endearing qualities, and in the contemporary world of pre-packaged, cookie-cutter pop stars, it’s sure great to have them back.” The Schenectady Gazette added, “the re-branded NRBQ has developed an impressive depth of mutual intuition so that even odd detours took on unanimous glee Sunday. They felt so good and they made everyone feel good too.”