It's a Mystery
The Mystery Band was born in a bar. Bill Gilmore, proprietor of Bill's Blues Bar in Evanston, Illinois, had no band booked for Thanksgiving night in 2003. Being a hanger-on at the bar and an occasional blues singer/harmonica player, I offered to assemble a band for that night. It gave me an excuse to go out and work off my Thanksgiving dinner. I didn't know who would show up to play; I just started calling my favorite musicians - so we became "the Mystery Band." Several folks attended the show that night, looking for a break from family togetherness. Thus began the Mystery Band experience. We remain a proud bar band. But we are different than a standard bar band. The mission of the Mystery Band is to bring Chicago's finest blues musicians together and have a ridiculously good time. Over the past 5 years, more than 45 terrific musicians have joined the Mystery Band (maybe for only one gig). We almost never rehearse - it comes together on the bandstand, sort of. But I started scribbling out a few blues songs to amuse myself, and then people started asking if they could buy our CD's. Well, we didn't have any product. So this CD is our effort to respond to our small group of dedicated fans. It is unusual for The Mystery Band to get organized like this - improvisation and accident are our core values. But it has been a gas to get in the studio and cut these tunes. We tried to stay true to our roots - there is very little overdubbing on this disc, and the all of the tracks were recorded in one or two takes. And we didn't rehearse - we pulled it together at Jim Reeve's studio in Evanston. I hope you enjoy the songs. The supporting musicians on this disc are among the finest blues/R&B players in the world, and they are my "go-to" guys - I use them on as many gigs as possible. It is an honor to play with them. The band loved working at Reeves Audio, run by the legendary Jim Reeves - one of the unsung heroes of the recorded music industry. Here is a little info on the Mystery Bandsmen: Mr. G, Harmonica and Vocals: Mr. G started out on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay Area. He soaked up the intense funk/soul/jazz scene out there, as a fan and as a trombonist in the horn section of various funk and jazz bands. After finishing his education in the Chicago area, Mr. G put down the trombone and began goofing around with the harmonica. He became a student of Chicago blues and found his voice as a barroom singer, songwriter and harp player. Mr. G has a day job, and he intends to keep it. Anthony Palmer, Guitar: They call him "The Fret-Burner," and other guitar players are awestruck when they hear him play. Born and raised on the West Side of the Chicago, Tony Palmer has supported many of the legendary blues players - Otis Rush, Lurrie Bell, Bobby Rush, Sugar Blue and many others. Tony was a member of the hard-touring Joanna Connor Band for 12 years, and then joined the Jimmy Burns Band in 2003. He provides Jimmy with virtuoso guitar support that is the backbone of the band's sound. Tony has been a Mystery Bandsman since the first Thanksgiving night gig in 2003. Greg "E.G." McDaniel, Electric and Acoustic Bass: E.G. was also an original Mystery Bandsman on the Thanksgiving 2003 gig. He is Tony Palmer's partner in the Jimmy Burns Band and one of the first-call bass players on the Chicago blues circuit. E.G. has provided the foundation for many blues notables, including Eddy Clearwater, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Katherine Davis, Erwin Helfer and many others. E.G. was born into music - his father was the legendary Chicago blues/jazz guitarist, Floyd McDaniel, his mother was the wonderful singer/pianist Bessie Jackson McDaniel and his cousin was the late, great Bo Diddley (aka Ellas McDaniel). E.G. is a rock solid, tasteful player. OSee Anderson, Guitar: OSee is a multi-faceted guitarist who has mastered the blues, jazz, funk and rhythm and blues. He began his professional career at age thirteen, and has performed with The Staple Singers, Al Green, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, James Cotton, Billy Branch, Albert Collins, Lonnie Brooks, John Mayall, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and many others. He has also led his own band, The Hit Squad, in the late 1980's. OSee is also a talented songwriter, and his songs have been recorded by many artists, including James Cotton. OSee has recorded three CD's under his own name. James Carter, Drums: James is the youngest Mystery Bandsman on this CD. He has mad percussion skills, built over 30 years of drumming (he started when he was 6). James works with E.G. and Anthony in the Jimmy Burns Band; he also played drums for many years for his uncle, the late, great bassist/vocalist Willie Kent. James has been hotly sought after by many blues greats over the years, including Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Littlejohn, Melvin Taylor, Byther Smith and many others. REVIEW: Sweethome By Beverley Zeldin-Palmer Illinois Entertainer May 2009 It's A Mystery is the title of the debut solo CD by Mr. G and the Mystery Band, which is led by harp man/vocalist/songwriter Chris "Mr. G" Gillock. "Investment banker by day, musician by night" is how Gillock describes himself on his blog, "Mr. G's Thoughts for Free." The Mystery Band was born in an impromptu fashion when Gillock offered to put a group together and perform at Bill's Blues in Evanston on Thanksgiving night in 2003. It has undergone a number of transitions since then, but the core of the band has coalesced around a group of stellar musicians the include guitarist Anthony Palmer (full disclosure: my husband), bassist Greg "E.G. McDaniel, guitarist OSee Anderson and drummer James Carter. The original, concept of The Mystery Band was to bring Chicago's finest blues musicians together to jam and have a good time. But you can't keep a good band down. The sheer firepower of the band led to a local following at clubs like the Morseland in Chicago and C.J. Arthur's in Wilmette. The logical step was to go into the studio, where "It's A Mystery" was born. Mr. G is the harp-playing vocalist, songwriter and impresario who holds it all together. He wrote the 11 tunes that comnprise the CD, featuring blues, funk, reggae and New Orleans soul. He is a cutting songwriter whose often humorous lyrics are reminiscent of musical satirist Tom Lehrer. On Get Out and Walk," a folksy tune with a Sonny-Terry inspired harmonica opening, he addresses the high price of gas and a public that doesn't have a clue: ell, gas is $4.50 a gallon / Gonna cost a lot more soon / You're complaining while your driving your big old Hummer / Hey Man! What the hell you doin'?/Get out and walk, ride a bike, get on the bus." He bemoans being levied to death on the slow blues "Paying Taxes," which features a fierce, in-the-basement guitar solo by Palmer. The title track is a Junior Wells-inspired groove that explores the mystery behind human behavior of all finds along the lines of "Why can't we all just get along?" Anderson and Palmer wail on this one, complementing each other's playing with their different but equally compelling blues approach. The rhythm section of McDaniel and Carter is solid through out, especially on the funky "My Dog and Me," a semi-humorous song about the pain of divorce: "When I first met my wife, I thought she was so fine / But the longer I lived with that woman the more I loved my canine...../But now she's gone and I must confess I feel dead inside." Despite the occasional foray into the serious, Mr. G and the Mystery Band are all about the fun. Their promo material should read, "For a good time, call...."
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