Quick! Which of these statements is true?
A. Blue Streak is a happy blues band.
B. The combined ages of group members are approximately 160.
C. Tim Cantrell is drumming for only two bands.
Those familiar with the scene might pick C, but this was a trick question. All three statements are true. Cantrell and guitarist Jackson Waters might be about 20 years younger than bandmates Ralph Vela and Rick Barrand, but it doesn’t matter. Open minds and a love of the blues are what brought this band together.
Vela and Barrand have known each other for 30 years, having attended school together and jamming at the Wells Street Theater with several other bands. The first time Barrand listened to a record by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he was hooked. He was 18.
Vela quit playing bass guitar back in the 70s, but picked it back up about four years ago. “I’m not a fancy bass player,” says Vela.” I just keep the beat going.”
Barrand was responsible for getting Blue Streak going. And it was an ad in Peddler’s Post that got Cantrell into the group.
Those familiar with the scene know Cantrell is an extremely busy drummer. At one time, he played for four groups. Now, he’s back to two. And even though he never played blues drums, his enthusiasm and varied musical tastes impressed Barrand.
“I liked his personality,” says Barrand, formerly of the Triple X Blues Band. The fact that Cantrell listens to everything between Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa didn’t hurt either. And one of Fort Wayne’s busiest drummers gets the chance to spread his wings even further.
“This has been really fun,” says Cantrell. “I look at it as an apprenticeship. I’ve learned a lot from these guys.”
The newest member, Waters, not only has a great blues name, but recently rejoined the band. Formerly of the G-Money Band, he started with Blue Streak as an original member last fall. But running his own business, in addition to hosting the blues jam Monday nights at the Hot Spot and other projects made it hard to concentrate. Just recently, the previous guitarist left. And Waters, the “old” guitarist, was invited to be the “new” one.
A native Texan, he’s “always been into music. Someone started me off in guitar. I found a guitar in the trash can and I rebuilt it,” says Waters.
“I play totally by ear,” he says. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
But it works. This is no “my woman done me wrong and I’m so blue” sort of band. “We’re not a pure blues band … we’re in the 90s,” says Barrand. Which means it’s a mixture of rock and blues. Something to stomp your feet to, not to cry to.
“We’re not half as depressing as most alternative bands,” adds Cantrell. “Ninety-nine percent of our songs are upbeat.”
“We like to be on the edge where it’s just about rock n’ roll, but it’s not,” says Barrand. He has the ideal blues voice, as evidenced by a visit to Munchie Emporium recently. It’s raspy and deep. And Barrand plays the harmonica like he really means it.
For now, the playlist features mainly covers. But, the band points out, bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones have based their careers on blues songs and redoing them.
That doesn’t mean there won’t ever be original songs from Blue Streak. Waters has “always been writing originals.” Some of those might end up on a CD, which is one of the band’s goals.
In the meantime, there are gigs to be played. They’ll be at Henry’s June 18 and at the Hot Spot June 19, chasing the blues away.