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Jesup native Randall Bramblett brings 'Devil Music' to Tybee

 

Jesup native Randall Bramblett brings 'Devil Music' to Tybee

19 Jul 2016

Randall Bramblett’s July 23 concert at the Tybee Post Theater will be a homecoming of sorts.

“I grew up in Jesup, and this is very close to home,” Bramblett says. “I don’t get down there that much, even though I live in Athens.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while,” he says. “I love playing in the home area.”

Acclaimed as a solo artist, Bramblett is also known for performing with and writing songs for Bonnie Raitt, Gregg Allman, Steve Winwood, Widespread Panic and Levon Helm, plus many, many more.

It all began in Jesup.

“I was playing piano and taking lessons at age 4,” Bramblett says. “My dad made some extensions for pedals so I could play. I was interested, and they said I was always sitting on the floor listening to the radio.

“I took piano lessons through high school and picked up the guitar and saxophone,” he says. “I was in bands playing rhythm and blues and Motown stuff. I was playing parties and dances all through high school and college.”

Despite his love of music, Bramblett didn’t study it in college.

“I started out thinking I was going to go into chemistry and instead found psychology and religion studies,” he says. “I was thinking about going to seminary to study theology.

“But my senior year of college, I started writing songs. I decided that was what I wanted to do.

“I came to Athens where there were people I knew and we began writing songs,” Bramblett says. “We had a place to record in Atlanta where they liked our music and started making records.”

Bramblett loves every aspect of his career.

“It all starts with writing,” he says. “It’s probably the most difficult and frustrating and rewarding. If you don’t have good songs, you might as well hang the performing and recording part up.

“The hard part is writing, and making a record is the most fun. Getting out and playing is the other part of it.

“The writing part is an internally focused thing,” Bramblett says. “Then you get out to production and performing and it’s a different mode of being. They’re all fun and I love doing them all.”

Virtually anything can inspire a song, Bramblett says.

“We’ve had a drought, and that’s inspired several songs, metaphorically talking about drought in life and relationships,” he says. “Loss, such as death, is always a great one.

“The craziness you hear people talking about is an inspiration. Sometimes I’ll create a character and just go with it.

“A lot of my characters are crazy and lost and running out of gas,” Bramblett says. “I’ve always liked making up characters or doing a song about a character I sort of know, so it’s a little biographical.”

Bramblett has always done solo performances.

“I was doing my own thing before I joined any bands,” he says. “From 1970 on, I was writing and making records on my own.

“I joined other bands for work. Sometimes doing your own thing doesn’t pay the bills.

“But I’ve always been doing solo while doing other people’s tours,” Bramblett says. “I really haven’t done a lot of year-long tours — just months-long — so I was back to doing the solo thing in between.

“About 2004, I decided I didn’t think I needed to expend energy with other people’s songs,” he says. “I had a label and needed to focus on getting out to play my own songs and see what I could do.”

Not that Bramblett doesn’t tour with others anymore.

“I still play with Widespread Panic,” he says. “I loved playing with Levon Helm.

“He was one of my idols and The Band was always a big influence. Playing with him was a great thrill.

“Levon was a great lover of playing live honky-tonk music,” Bramblett says. “So was Steve Winwood.”

But there are differences between the two.

“Steve’s more refined — not slick, but more produced and less uninhibited,” Bramblett says. “I played with Steve 16 years, so I had a lot of chances to see how he produced and pulled things across.

“Bonnie Raitt has always been a great inspiration as a person and a singer and a player,” Bramblett says. “I learned a lot from all of these.”

“Devil Music,” Bramblett’s latest album, was released in 2015.

“It’s a rootsier, bluesier record than I had done before,” he says.

The title of the album is based on an incident recounted in Howlin’ Wolf’s biography.

The famed blues singer was trying to reconnect with his mother, who was deeply religious. She rejected her son because he played the blues, which she saw as sinful.

“It’s serious, deep and raw stuff,” Bramblett says. “She rejected him because she was sanctified and he was playing the blues.

“It seemed like a good start for a song. I was talking about redemption and religion and how it all mixes and comes from the same source.

“It led into a lot of the songs that came on this record,” he says. “Some of my records have been more Americana and not as bluesy.”

The Tybee Post Theater is an ideal venue for his concert, Bramblett says.

“I think I’m going to play some acoustic guitar stuff with the band so we can kind of tone it down a bit,” he says. “We’re going to do stuff with the new record, which when we can turn it down, comes out great. “We’ll also play the stuff we usually play,” Bramblett says. “We’ll do ‘Devil Music’ and stuff off the new record and stuff off all the records.”

 

IF YOU GO

What: Randall Bramblett

When: 8 p.m. July 23

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $25 or $22.50 for members

Info: www.tybeeposttheater.org, 912-472-4790

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