“The Ballad of Black Bart” inspired by an Oregon outlaw on Blue Lotus latest album Across The Canyon. Blue Lotus singer and songwriter Brandelyn Rose chats with Grateful Web on this release, while in tour in Colorado.
GW: How is Denver treating you?
Brandelyn: It’s good. It’s my first time here. We don’t know anyone out here.
GW: First time in Denver?
Brandelyn: Oh yeah. We’ve never been to Colorado at all. We don’t have any fans out here.
GW: That’s going to change.
Brandelyn: Yeah, Jay gave us four nights to showcase our stuff to as many people as possible in a four-day period. We are just hoping people show up. We don’t know anybody out here. It’s been really fun. We had a great time. We played in Crested Butte Monday Night. Then, we hit Boulder three nights and we have one more show tonight.
GW: You hit the mountain town, Boulder and now Denver. That pretty much covers it, I think!
Brandelyn: Right? I think Fort Collins too a little bit.
GW: Yes, Fort Collins is up north [of Colorado] some.
Brandelyn: It was more like timing when we would be coming through. We are headed up to Montana and we have a bunch of festivals and things coming up.
But, I really appreciate you coming out. Aaron has been really awesome coming out and doing photography for us. We played a fair and he came out and did a blip about the fair.
GW: Which fair was this?
Brandelyn: We played Oregon Country Fair this year on the main stage.
Brandelyn: Yeah, it was really cool. We got to play right before Beats Antique and ALO [Animal Liberation Orchestra]. This summer has been really fun.
GW: Is that your first festival – the fair?
Brandelyn: No, we’ve been together for five and a half years. We’ve been doing the festivals for the last year and a half, probably. Last fall, we started touring. We’ve been touring just over a year now in mostly little three-day run out. Once a year, we do a three weeks long tour which covers basically Montana, Idaho, and Washington. This year we added Colorado to the loop.
GW: We’re definitely glad. Hopefully, that expands your base.
Brandelyn: Yeah, it’s so awesome. I so appreciate you guys, really, helping to connect. We met also some people from the Colorado jam scene.
GW: Your first gig was a post-show at a Phish concert?
Brandelyn: Yeah, our first show was after Phish, at the Gorge, under a popup – for like 2000 people.
GW: That must have been pretty cool.
Brandelyn: It was really exciting. I hadn’t played in front of people before and neither had Felix [Felix Blades, Lead Guitar/Vocals]. Felix was 14 years old.
GW: No kidding. He’s so young.
Brandelyn: He’s really young. He was 14 and I took him up to the Gorge. It was so funny.
GW: So, did he rip at 14 years old.
Brandelyn: Oh yeah. He’s amazing. He’s somewhere between…I don’t want to compare him. He’s his own entity – for sure.
GW: Any epiphany from that experience or lasting impression?
Brandelyn: I was surprised. We hadn’t played live before and that kind of crowd response was flooring. The other thing is that a lot of those people who saw us at that very first show are still our fans.
GW: Oh, really.
Brandelyn: They come up to me all the time when we’re out of town, “we were at your first show. We follow you”.
GW: I took a friend to your show last night. We’re fans too. We thought we heard some blues influence at the show.
Brandelyn: I was a Deadhead. I write our music – there’s a whole process that goes on. My influences are kind of blues roots music and then rock-and-roll. I love improvisational rock-and-roll. Felix is into the psychedelic rock-and-roll – the really 60’s sounding. Bob Dylan was a huge influence for me as a songwriter. When I started out, I was basically a singer/songwriter playing folk oriented blues – folk and blues. I met Felix and we morphed it. We took my songs and worked them into a live electric format. Felix love Stevie Ray Vaughn. He loves Bob Dylan too. He loves Trey and Jerry obviously. He loves the Yardbirds. He’s really into early early 60’s psychedelic rock and early psychedelic rock performers – he’s fascinated by them.
I love Robert Hunter. Robert Hunter is kind of my hero. Robert Hunter wrote some amazing lyrics for the Dead. I love him and Bob Dylan. I really love thought provoking, abstract…I’m thinking of how to say it. Open Interpretation. Drawing your own meaning and topic. I don’t write a lot about kind of common…love. It’s not my thing.
GW: Even though the band started in 2010, you’ve been at this and performing for some time now.
Brandelyn: Yeah, we’ve all been playing for a long time. Felix started at five years old and really started to hit it at 12. He’s taken different instructors from Eugene. He’s learns theory and gone to school for jazz theory. Ben [Ben Bosse], our bass player, has played in several bands and is knowledgeable. Our drummer [Alex Huber] went to Cornish School of Music up in Seattle – super talented. I’ve been playing since I was 12 years old and writing songs since I was 13 out in the communities. I started performing at 15 maybe with solo, acoustic stuff. I was always driven to play music. I write so much that I want to get the songs out for people to enjoy them.
GW: The lyrics comes to you.
Brandelyn: Yeah, it depends. Each song is really unique. I have days with a pen where the song comes out in ten minutes like “Mining Diamonds”, one of the songs we played last night.
GW: “Mining Diamonds” is live on Blue Lotus latest album?
Brandelyn: Yes, it’s a live track on our studio album. We combined both live and studio performance. Our fans really love the jams and extended improvisation so it’s hard to do a studio album.
GW: Across The Canyon is your latest album.
Brandelyn: Right. There were three that were live tracks from performances of last year.
GW: “Drift Away” is a live track that was also on your 2013 album, A Thousand Other Things.
Brandelyn: We had a little cross over. We tried to take some of our favorite that we had done – even if they were studio – and make sure we got them live because certain songs we love. They’re exciting and creative. We picked our favorites.
GW: What’s another favorite on Across The Canyon?
Brandelyn: I love all of them. They’re all unique. Each one so different and has a different quality. “The Ballad of Black Bart” is one of my favorites. It’s one of my favorites that I’ve written too. It’s an actual story of an Oregon outlaw. I basically tell his story in the song of his life in Oregon. It’s really interesting. He used to rob. He was a real…dude. [Laughing] He use to rob stagecoaches.
GW: He was a real, actual…
Brandelyn: Yeah, he was a real Oregon outlaw. I was inspired by his story. He used to live in the city and pretend to be one of the rich banker folk. At night, he would run up into the foothills and rob stagecoaches. He run back into town and everyone thought he was a wealthy land owner. Yeah, he got away with it for like I don’t know -- 10 years or something. Never hurt anyone, never killed anyone.
GW: That’s funny.
Brandelyn: Yeah, it’s hilarious. He finally went to jail for like four years. When they let him out, he disappeared and no one ever saw him again.
[You can read up a lot more on Black Bart on the internet]
Brandelyn: He’s probably in Mexico. [Laughing]
GW: We’ll have to listen to that track. [“The Ballad of Black Bart”]
Link to Blue Lotus music – click “Audio” menu:
Brandelyn: Listen to it. You’ll love it. It’s really fun. I did a lot of research on different vocabulary that was used at the time, in the 1800’s. What was the language they used to describe certain things.
GW: Do you remember any of the vocabulary? Is it kind of western-ish type things?
Brandelyn: Western and old like ‘batter’, spelled b-a-t-t-e-r I think. I’d have to look it up. ‘Booty’ is gold coins and money. I used a bunch of different language from the day in the song which is fun to do. It’ fun to move back to a time and place. Hunter does a lot of that too. He’s a master of it.
GW: A Thousand Other Things [Blue Lotus’ 2013 studio album] is the only album I found on iTunes.
Brandelyn: That is old with our old drummer. Have you heard our new album.
GW: Yes, Across The Canyon is on the Blue Lotus website under Audio where I found “Mining Diamonds” and “Drift Away”. There are really cool tracks on that album and on the 2013 album as well where I found “Mama Freight train” and “Along the Road w/You” -- really good songs.
Brandelyn: “Along the Road w/You” is one of my favorites. I love that song.
GW: It’s a beautiful, sweet song. Talk about that track?
Brandelyn: That one I was inspired. I’ve been listening to Fruition which is so funny. I love them and sometime dream them while working. I was listening to them one day. I don’t know what inspired it but I remember getting in that mode of I wanted to write a kind of sweet, blue grassy tune. I pictured myself going out on a road trip. And, that was the beginning of it. I never write at face value but I can’t obviously say that. Almost nothing is face value.
GW: You have shows in Denver and a festival in Montana.
Brandelyn: Yeah, we’re finishing out the tour as one of the headliners for the Feel Good Festival.
GW: What’s on the horizon for Blue Lotus after the tour.
Brandelyn: In the winter time, we tend to woodshed, write more music, pull together some pieces, get everybody a little tighter and stretch the jams longer -- a little more intricate. So, woodshedding in the fall and slow down a little bit. We do more local and regional in California and Washington primarily during the fall season. And then during the tour, we do a spring break, summer is the festival season, and tour through the end of the summer. We’ll continue to tour and get the music out there. It’s just been a great experience – life changing.
GW: It’s great for us. Thanks for putting the music out there.
Brandelyn: Thank you so much for the support. Those little boosts help gives us a little more exposure. People came out last night I guess from Colorado Springs who have heard of the band. I was surprised because we’ve never been out here and they made an hour drive to see us. Every little bit of getting the word out helps. We love what we do. Felix and I are best friends. We want to do this. Play music for people is what brings us so much joy. Keeping it going is really exciting.
GW: We appreciate your time again. Good luck out there.