a few friends began late-night jamming with their drums, guitar and bass on a
summer evening in Lansing, there wasn’t much of a plan besides enjoying the
music. After continual creative hangouts,
Raymond Crane, Mike Loomis and Adrian
Bryant soon realized the potential for a band. Enter Lucas Holliday, Jacque Baldori and Eric Kloeckner, and you have the rhythm and blues funk rock band
Tell Yo Mama.
After the band came together in August of 2014, the mission was simple: embrace
the positive feelings and often therapeutic effects of the music. After coining
themselves with a quirky name, the real fun began for the group. The band, made
up of Jacque Baldori (vocals, percussion), Lucas Holliday (vocals), Eric Kloeckner
(keys, blues harp, percussion, recording, sound engineering, production), MIchael Loomis
(guitar), Raymond Crane (drums, percussion, vocals, recording, sound engineering,
production, manager), Marty Mclean (saxophone, keys, percussion, vocals), Adrian Bryant (bass),
recalls their early days.
“We played a lot of cover-song-based shows and mixed in original material as we
wrote it,” they said. “We were pretty busy playing just about every club in
Lansing and several surrounding towns. We traveled as far as Saugatuck and
Traverse City in that first year or so. We played 58 shows the first year.”
Tell Yo Mama’s first demo was self-produced by band member Raymond Crane the
following summer and the group continued to gain loyal local fans from their
time spent on the stage. In fall of 2015, Marty Mclean joined the band, and the
group released an updated demo and re-evaluated their sonic footprint. The
lineup hasn’t changed since then, but the band’s trajectory has certainly been
on the up-and-up lately.
Tell Yo Mama (TYM) vocalist Lucas Holliday has seen his own share of insta-stardom
via a Facebook video of him singing while working as a cashier at Dollar
General. The video features Holliday ringing up customers, singing Maxwell’s
1996 hit “Ascension,” has been seen over 600,000 times, and the number continues
to grow daily. The viral video even landed him a webcam appearance on ABC’s
“Good Morning America” and the chance to sing with Maxwell during his Detroit
stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills within the same month.
Not only is Lucas gaining national attention for his voice, the band is also
embracing the newfound fans and attention.
“It has been great for the band. He has his own star power from that video and
we are all in his corner; but naturally, it has helped to propel our band to new
heights as well. We are working on new material at
a feverish pace to try and
keep the fire lit. This has necessitated us to step up our game through social
media, booking, and management and close family legal counsel. It always helps
to have good help from honest and trustworthy people,” the band said.
Even before the recent social media frenzy, the band had a following with its
Michigan music fans, especially after landing second place at the Q106 Hometown Throwdown. The annual event, held at The
Loft in Lansing, often features heavy rock and metal bands, but the funky rhythm and
blues band certainly held their own in the stiff competition.
“We brought a lot of energy and at times we can be pretty rock-oriented,” they
said. “Some of us have a long history with metal and heavy music. If you lose
something like that, you can’t be a pissy pants and whine or make excuses. The
winners, Past Tense deserved that number one spot! They had an army there and
played very well. That large of a following happens when a band works hard and
plays even better.”
Things are looking even better these days, as Facebook fans of the band continue
to grow and live shows continue to be booked.
“As James Brown said, '90% business and 10% show,' it really takes a lot of time
and hard work. Each band member performs managerial tasks at times, and helps out
in the self-described less-than-fun-side of the band duties. Jacque Baldori is also
very instrumental in the operation of the less-than-fun side of band duties,"
After releasing their first full length album on Nov.12, the band has entered
into its third phase. And you can bet phase three includes even more funky jams,
more bluesy beats, more soulful soundscapes and more opportunities to evolve.
Just as opportunities evolve, so does the band’s songwriting process.
“It’s really about evolution,” TYM said. “A person will have an idea that is
quickly tossed around, changed and molded into something new. Many times Mike or
Ray will have an idea and it is sent on a crazy juxtaposition over a funky bass
line from Adrian or a mean sax lick by Marty. Then lyrics are added and the
music is made to reinforce that vocal message. The process has changed over time
and different methods have been employed to prevent things from getting stale.
Lately we have been changing that and writing music for the words more.”
No matter if the music or lyrics come first, the band remains true to the heart
of music, in a sometimes commercialized, oversaturated industry. The seven-piece
outfit continues to keep creating music for the love of it, and knows that
without the heart and soul of longtime blues and soul singers loves like Sam
Cooke, Ray Charles, and James Brown, Luther Vandross and more, the band probably
wouldn’t be around.
“Blues is the foundation of most popular music,” TYM said. “Some styles might
sound different now but it probably came from the blues. We all have a respect
for this genre and songs of ours like “Louder than sin” show off that love and
respect. The Green Door is one of our favorite places in town. It is far from
the strict blues bar it once was but that is good for groups like Tell Yo Mama.”
Factor in current influences like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, and Snarky Puppy
which continue to shape and inspire the diverse members of TYM, encouraging
“celebratory dance and improvisational camaraderie amongst band mates.”
Tell Yo Mama’s latest material, their first full-length album didn’t come
without some hiccups. Two computers crashed and five different ones were
utilized to transfer files during the recording process.
Deadlines left the band
with only a month for the post-production, done by band members Eric Kloeckner and Raymond Crane.
“We sent in the final cuts only a week or so before our release show on Nov. 12,
2016. Many of the tunes we re-wrote and added to. From the time we started to
completion, some songs had transformed drastically. It truly was an arduous
process, but rewarding all the same,” TYM said.
Now the group is left to work on even more new tunes and play catch-up to the
attention of its band member Lucas’ video. They’re busy organizing social media
pages, website updates and increasing content. Also on the agenda is to release
single songs on a monthly basis, with possible future tour dates are in the
Armed with tremendous talent and high hopes of turning this into a profession,
TYM is well on their way to their dreams of national stages and stadiums and
rubbing elbows with idols. They’re out there doing their part, so now it’s your
turn to spread the news about this funky rhythm and blues band: it’s time to
tell your friends, your sister, your brother, and you betcha – tell yo mama.
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