San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Yucaipa
MEMBERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Jeff Chaz (guitar, vocals); Woody Andrews (bass); Jim Wattlington (drums).
In Exile (JCP Records, 2006)
Rock it if you like dudes who should be kings, e.g. B.B. King, Albert King and Freddy King.
Jeff Chaz has led an interesting life that has provided plenty of fodder to write, play, sing and live the blues. He’s not the average Joe just moanin‘ over a 1-4-5 progression with some twanger wankin‘ in between. Chaz actually has stories and he’s willing to share ’em, whether through conversation or song.
Originally raised in rural Louisiana, Chaz moved to the Inland Empire after his physician father accepted a job offer. When Chaz turned 17, he received permission to see the world. He’d eventually head back to the South to New Orleans, “the home of the music I love the most—the blues.” Chaz didn’t play the blues exclusively, as he says he landed soul and country gigs, touring through Memphis and New Orleans, all the while performing with greats like Jerry Lee Lewis and Albert King.
But a personal changes, coupled with the effects of Hurricane Katrina, found Chaz back in the Inland Empire. With the assistance of his sister, Chaz was able to procure a mighty solid backing band, gaining bassist Woody Andrews and drummer Jim Wattlington, who Chaz says once played with legendary keyboardist Billy Preston.
In comparing his current scene to the blues circles of the South, Chaz notes “there’s not a real centrally-located blues [scene] here in the IE, it’s pretty spread out and you have to do a lot of driving to stay busy—lots of times, going to L.A. and Orange counties. People love the blues here, [but] the places to perform are just very spread out and not as plentiful as in the South.”
And perhaps such local love will migrate to disc, as Chaz will be working on a new album in the near future (finances permitting). He also hopes to connect with a new label to aid with touring and expenses. In fact, he’s ready to bring his best to the table.
“If there is anyone out there wanting to invest some time and money into a world-class blues act, please contact me,” he says. “I can guarantee you it will be money well spent and invested.”
Jeff Chaz Blues Band at Ray’s Downtown Deli, 168 S. E St., San Bernardino, (909) 885-7776; Every Thurs, 8PM.