Billy Bats update
It’s been a fun, weird year.
I wasn’t sure 12 months ago if there would be a Billy Bats anymore. Since 2006, I’d been playing with a drummer all over the Midwest. It was fun. My guitar and vocal chops were pushed all the time.
Being a two piece is hard though. I refer to it sometimes as my second marriage. A lot of things come up for discussion that may not if there’s more people.
I developed a side project with a group of musician friends. We learned songs I wrote but never played out.
Then when the Bats drummer left I moved them all over from The Vivone Band to the new Billy Bats. We’re up to 6 members at full strength. Going from a duo to more people that can fit in my car was a big step.
Now I’m able to experiment with fiddle and banjo which are new to me. We can dive into those rag-time and early blues feels. Not to mention the additional vocals.
I did the IBC in Memphis.
Took the new Billy Bats to Austin. We opened for Fishbone. Meandered in and out of the studio. Gigged all the time. And then we won this contest here in Missouri called the KING OF THE ROOTS. Here’s the press release.
Jason Vivone has been crowned King of the Roots in a competition sponsored by the Missouri Lottery and Columbia’s Blues n Roots n BBQ Festival.
Roots and blues acts from St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield took part in regional competitions during the summer. The final showdown was held at the Blue Note in Columbia this past Saturday night.
Vivone and his band The Billy Bats will perform at the Blues n Roots n BBQ Fest in Columbia Saturday September 10th. Other acts scheduled to perform are Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph and Dr. Ralph Stanley.
” “Hill country blues on acid. Pretty wild stuff.” “
– Chuck Haddix, KCUR FM The Fish Fry
“Jason and the boys claimed their invite to the final showdown by force, jumping off stage and pulling fans up to dance.”
King of The Roots – Roots n BBQ.com
“Jason Vivone & the Billy Bats are not only one of the hottest blues bands in Kansas City, but maybe the entire country.”
Shea Conner, St. Joseph News-Press (Jun 09, 2011)
“Their blues is honest. They feel it, they sling it, they sing it. They totally turned the restaurant atmosphere into Mississippi backwoods speakeasy in no time flat. ”
Skaught Patterson, FRIENDS OF THE BLUES, www.examiner.com
The roots thing is what I wanted to talk about here.
Missouri has a great legacy of roots music. Scott Joplin writes the Maple Leaf Rag in Sedalia. The St Louis Blues. Big Joe Turner tends bar, Count Basie looks over arrangements, Bird cradles his alto at the clubs of 18th and Vine. Across the state, Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson learning songs at the piano. A young Miles Davis takes trumpet lessons. Albert King and Ike Turner and Earl Hooker crosscross each other’s paths taking 55 south from St Louis to the deep south.