release date: April 9, 2013

Independently Blue - it's the title of his new Stony Plain album - and a fine definition of his musical philosophy

Believe it not, there are times when a CDs sleeve notes form the basis of a pretty good bio. And so it is with Nashville writer Ted Drozdowski, who penned the essay that's part of Duke Robillard's 19th album for Stony Plain, aptly named Independently Blue.

Ted tells it exactly like it is: "Over the four-decades-and-more that Duke has plied his unshakeable virtuosity in the studio and on stage, its needle has tilted between all manner of roots music: jazz, R&B, Tex-Mex, rock, urban, backwoods and even into the dimensions of tiki gods and the psychedelic. But it has always come to rest at the blues.

"Independently Blue is a true blues album, but like all of Duke's work it has a wide arch. His stories plunge deeply into matters of the heart and soul: from the blood and guts basics of human relationships to the heights of the transcendent, and from the streets of New Orleans to the vistas of the astral." The soul of Independently Blue is in large part due to the musicians that Robillard has surrounded himself with.

"I'm proud of the way we all play together so effortlessly," Robillard says. "My band has been together quite a few years now and we have done many recordings under my name and with other artists, so we are pretty quick in the studio and we've developed a real language of our own."

photo credit: Kris Craig

In addition to keyboard player Bruce Bears, Duke's group includes bassist Brad Hallen and drummer Mark Teixeira. Besides special guest guitarist Monster Mike Welch (who plays on every track and also contributed two songs), the album's guest players include clarinetist Billy Novick and Roomful of Blues trumpeter Doug Woolverton.

Until recently, the Duke Robillard Band has toured the world non-stop, with breaks only for recording (and sessions like the parts he contributed to Bob Dylan's 1997 record Time Out of Mind) and an intense tour with Tom Waits.

As an artist, Duke has unwaveringly followed his own road, pursuing his personal vision of excellence and creativity wherever it's taken him, always guided by the light of his personal North Star, the blues. And that makes Independently Blue both an apt title for this new collection of songs, and a colorful description of the man himself. Now, new horizons await. But he'll always remain independently blue.