“They are not a band – they are an extravaganza” – John Hiatt
“The music these men make together draws on their richly various experience—funk, blues, hard rock, reggae—as individual artists, but it’s blended into a single tightly focused form of timeless Southern expression known as blues-rock, and they play the living hell out of it.” – John Sinclair
Royal Southern Brotherhood
Released 2014 on Ruf Records
The Brotherhood are back. Some might say they’ve never been away. Two years have passed since 2012’s self-titled debut album, but the genre-splicing all-star Southerners have barely paused for breath.
There’s been the roof-raising world tour, taking in twenty-plus countries. There’s been the classic Songs From The Road live album. Cyril Neville, Devon Allman and Mike Zito have all found time for critically-acclaimed solo releases, while Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton have lent their talents to the hottest artists around.
But HeartSoulBlood is the big one. The main event. The comeback special. Released 2014 on Ruf Records, this much-anticipated second studio album is set to rubber-stamp Royal Southern Brotherhood’s reputation as the boldest creative force in the game, and give an adrenalin-shot to the band’s setlist as they scorch the tarmac this summer.
HeartSoulBlood. The album title says it all. In a rock industry increasingly driven by sales charts and demographics, this second album is the sound of five world-class musicians following their guts and playing tug-of-war with their eclectic influences, whether that’s funk, soul, old-blues or hard-rock. This is not an album made to satisfy the suits in boardroom playbacks. It’s an album made to soundtrack people’s lives.
If it ain’t broke, as they say, don’t fix it, and for HeartSoulBlood, the Brothers returned to the stamping-ground where it all started. Situated on the banks of the croc-infested Vermilion Bayou, Louisiana, Dockside Studios is no slick urban recording space in the style of Abbey Road or LA’s Record Plant. Despite that – or because of it – this facility has a magic in the air that has coaxed classic albums from artists including B.B. King and Derek Trucks, and also provided the backdrop to 2012’s Royal Southern Brotherhood album.
And so, reuniting with Jim Gaines – the super-producer who helmed the debut album sessions – and hot-shot engineer David Z, the band returned to Dockside in December 2013 to bottle the sequel. Not only was the spark between the five members still firing, but after two years spent bonding on the road, the interplay on these tracks is tighter and more telepathic than ever.
On duelling guitars, Devon and Mike weave stories, butt heads and raise hell, atop the thrilling rhythm bedrock of Charlie’s bass and Yonrico’s driving beats. As we’ve come to expect, the vocals tend to be a three-way split between Devon, Mike and Cyril, with the latter also supplying the percussive grooves that defy your feet not to move.
Some folks still call Royal Southern Brotherhood a supergroup, and perhaps that tag is inevitable, given Devon and Cyril’s backstory with the legendary Allman and Neville Brothers (not to mention Mike, Yonrico and Charlie’s solid-gold résumés). But if HeartSoulBlood proves anything, it’s that RSB is not five individual egos jostling for supremacy, but a band in the truest sense of the word, united by their desire to give these songs wings.
Mission accomplished. While lesser artists labour over the so-called ‘difficult second album’, HeartSoulBlood makes it look easy, with a tracklisting that feels both hugely ambitious and wholly effortless. As you would hope from a band with no rulebook, this is an album with no limits. There are plenty of raucous moment to satisfy the rock kids hanging off the security barrier, from the uppercut slide-riff of World Blues and the stinging intro of Love And Peace, to the menacing wah lines of Callous On My Soul.
But these harder moments are always counterbalanced with light and shade. Take the glassy funk of Groove On, for instance, with its quicksilver percussive guitar lick. Try the lilting soul-slowie I Shoulda Known, and the haunted storytelling of the album’s most poignant song, It Takes A Village. Just as memorable is Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The Child, which spins the story of how the planet’s most popular artform was born in the US South (“Little Richard said he wasn’t quittin’ til he found him a brand-new sound…”).
Likewise, in 2014, you could say much the same about Royal Southern Brotherhood. Respectful of the music’s past, but twisting it into new shapes as they stride boldly into the future, this is one band adding to the story of rock ‘n’ roll – and HeartSoulBlood is the latest thrilling chapter.
Read respected critic/author John Sinclair’s liner notes for
The music these men make together draws on their richly various
experience—funk, blues, hard rock, reggae—as individual artists, but it’s
blended into a single tightly focused form of timeless Southern expression
known as blues-rock, and they play the living hell out of it.
Here Cyril Neville points out that “rock & roll is the child of rhythm &
blues,” citing the New Orleans origins of the idiom in the recording
sessions at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studios on North Rampart Street in the
mid-1950s that produced the incendiary Specialty singles of Little
But blues rock is in turn the child of rock & roll, born and bred in the
nasty bars and roadhouses of the South and transplanted into the
imaginations of a bunch of teen-age blues lovers in Great Britain who
took their version to the top of the international pop music charts.
So blues rock is a form of popular music that’s now 50 years old with a
well-defined esthetic and an almost formulaic approach to its materials,
and just when you think you’ve heard it all, a group of exceptionally
adept musicians comes together to reinvigorate the blues-rock idiom with
their emotionally informed, guitar-driven, melodically imaginative
original compositions that touch all the blues-rock bases and propel the
music right up the middle.
Royal Southern Brotherhood is a friendly, well-balanced collective with
each singer enjoying a fair share of the lead vocals and the guitarists
fronting and backing up each other with equal power and sensitivity.
The whole band shares the song-writing duties as well, with Cyril Neville
displaying unusual strength as a blues-rock composer.
The Brotherhood emerged in New Orleans as a muscular performing unit
and toured regionally to wide acclaim before entering the studio with
producer Jim Gaines to fully define their sound and approach with
heartsoulblood. Their fans will be clamoring to get their hands on a copy
forthwith, and there’s a big audience out there that will be very happy to
hear this music as soon as they get a chance.
There’s nothing missing here—the Royal Southern Brotherhood has got it
all: heart, blood and soul in glorious abundance. May they live long and
prosper! By John Sinclair – Detroit – April 1, 2014
Mike Zito, Devon Allman, Cyril Neville ~ The soul of the south. Amplified soul for the new generation
Before they even hit a chord, The Royal Southern Brotherhood have your attention. In the US South, where music is religion, two rock ‘n’ roll bloodlines tower above all others. In the saloon bars from Mississippi to Maryland, mere mention of the Allman and Neville Brothers casts a magic spell. Conversation falls silent. Pool balls stop rolling. Ten-gallon hats are tipped in respect and beer-bottles raised in salute. These aren’t just bands, they’re gods, and with a lineup comprising both the iconic Cyril Neville and Devon Allman, The Royal Southern Brotherhood come pre-loaded with expectations. Don’t worry: they can match them. The family tree might be auspicious, but this new band trades on talent, not genealogy. It’s not about rock history: it’s about the here-and-now.
This lineup has talent to burn. You’ll already know Cyril Neville: poet, philosopher, percussion master and perhaps the South’ last great soul singer. Devon Allman. As the son of Gregg Allman, the 39-year-old has rock ‘n’ roll in his DNA, but he’s always walked his own path. Mike Zito: the blues ace whose ear for melody provides the counterpoint to his wingman’s rocking tendencies. Nominated in 2011 for the Blues Music Foundation’s ‘Best Blues Rock’ award, and winner of 2010’s Blues Music Award. Bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott: both heavyweight names in their own right, with Charlie’s bass chops celebrated on the Southern jam scene for his sets with the Woods Brothers, and Yonrico hitting the skins for luminaries including the Derek Trucks Band, Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers themselves.
They said that rock ‘n’ roll was dead, but they were wrong. Right now, in 2012, there’s something in the air, as The Royal Southern Brotherhood drag their thrilling new brand of blues-rock and white-hot musicianship from the Southern States onto the world stage. The South is rising again. Come along for the ride.
Mike Zito: ‘Today’ Electro Groove Records 2008
Mike Zito: ‘Pearl River’ Electro Groove Records 2009
Mike Zito: ‘Greyhound’ Electro Groove Records 2011
Cyril has co-written songs with Bono of U2, Taj Mahal, Daniel Lanois, to name a few and was the one that Lanois credits as the musical catalyst that led to the Neville’s Grammy Award winning record “YELLOW MOON.” Most recently he has fronted and sang for New Orleans Funk band Galactic, the Voice of the Wetlands All-stars, The Neville Brothers, and continues to do shows with his own group Tribe 13. His most resent television have been on 2011’s episode of Jimmie Kimmel LIVE and HBO’s hit series “Treme.” Cyril is featured on recordings by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Dr. John, Tab Benoit, Edie Brickell, Willie Nelson, plus many more. He has performed all over the world including the infamous Amnesty International tour with U2 and the Police and has sung for Nelson Mandela. There is no doubt that with in the first few vocal notes it is easy to tell that musical royalty runs deep in Cyril’s blood and he remains a percussionist to be reckoned with.
1994 The Fire This Time (Endangered Species) The Uptown Allstars
1998 Soulo (Endangered Species) Cyril solo
2000 New Orleans Cookin’ (Endangered Species) Cyril solo
2003 For The Funk Of It (Kongo Square) The Uptown Allstars
2007 The Healing Dance (Jomar/Silk) Tribe 13
2009 Brand New Blues (M.C.) Cyril solo
2010 The Essetial Cyril Neville (MC) Cyril solo
w/ the Neville Brothers
1978: The Neville Brothers (Capitol)
1981: Fiyo on the Bayou (A&M)
1984: Live Nevillization (Black Top)
1987: Uptown (EMI)
1987: Nevillization 2 (Live At Tipitina’s Volume 2) (Spindletop)
1989: Yellow Moon (A&M)
1990: Brother’s Keeper (A&M)
1992: Family Groove (A&M)
1994: Live on Planet Earth (A&M)
1995: Mitakuye Oyasin Oyasin/All My Relations (A&M)
1997: The Carnival (Guest appearance, song ‘Mona Lisa’)
1999: Valence Street (Columbia)
2004: Walkin’ In The Shadow Of Life (Back Porch)
Allman is endorsed by Gibson, has his own signature ‘Devon Allman’ amp with Fuchs Audio Technology and has played onstage alongside Les Paul, Billy Gibbons, John Popper among many others. He’s a true old school gunslinger bringing fire and mood to the ROYAL tapestry. His guitar style evokes shades of past masters like Carlos Santana, Dickey Betts and Mick Taylor, while his voice is steeped in soul and blues’ multi-dimensional and full of power.
Vargas Blues Band: ‘LOVE UNION PEACE’ Dro / Warner Brothers 2005
Devon Allman’s Honeytribe: ‘TORCH’ Livewire Recordings / Rykodisc 2006
Vargas Blues Band: ‘FLAMENCO BLUES EXPERIENCE’ Dro / Warner Brothers 2008
Devon Allman’s Honeytribe: ‘SPACE AGE BLUES’ Provogue Records 2010
By age fourteen, Yonrico began private study with Motown drummer, George Hamilton. His musical accomplishments continued throughout college, and during his freshman year at Kentucky State University, he was voted, ‘Drummer of the Year.’ He later transferred to the University of Kentucky to study with Dave Davenport, Professor of Percussion and Principal Timpanist of the Lexington Philharmonic, where he received a B.A. in Performance Percussion in 1978.
In 1979, Yonrico accepted an Artist in Residency assignment in Atlanta, GA, with The Neighborhood Arts Center’s Department of Cultural Affairs. It wasn’t long afterwards that Yonrico became one of Atlanta’s most sought-after studio drummers. Since 1995, Yonrico has been touring the world as a member of the Derek Trucks Band (dTb). (The dTb is a Sony Music Entertainment artist with recent television appearances on the CBS Early Show, the Conan O’Brien Show, & A&E’s Breakfast in the Arts, among others.) Their self-titled debut CD was released on Landslide Records in October 1997. Since then, the band has released six additional recordings: Out of the Madness, Joyful Noise, Soul Serenade, Live at the Georgia Theatre, Songlines, and most recently, Already Free (2009).
The dTb has headlined the popular ‘Blues Cruise’ and ‘Jam Cruise,’ and completed multiple tours of Japan & Europe. They’ve opened for and performed with artists such as: BB King, Eric Clapton, Santana, Buddy Guy, Joe Satriani, John Popper, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Gregg Allman and Friends, Gov’t Mule, Leftover Salmon, Taj Mahal, Little Milton, Mavis Staples, and Otis Rush. Yonrico also collaborates & tours internationally with Grammy Award Winner, Earl Klugh, and his own band, the Yonrico Scott Band (YSB), which includes Kofi Burbridge, Keys/Flute, and Todd Smallie, Bass. YSB’s debut release, Turning the Corner, was released in January, 2004.
Throughout his musical career, Yonrico has recorded and/or performed with a Who’s Who list of well-known artists. Most recently, he has collaborated with The Ying Yang Twins and Outkast. Other notable artists include Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Peabo Bryson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Chuck Berry, George Howard, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Joshua Redman, George Benson, Anita Baker, Tinsley Ellis, The Allman Brothers Band, Susan Tedeschi, Kansas, John Scofield, Bruce Hampton, Cecil Bridgewater, Alvin Batiste, Gary Burton, Fiji Mariners, Andrew White, Gregg Allman, John Denver, Ben E. King, The 3 Degrees, The Supremes, Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh, The Lexington Philharmonic, and The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, among others. Yonrico’s Broadway tour performances include The Wiz, 5 Guys Named Moe, and Dream Girls.
Yonrico’s endorsements include Pearl Drums, Ziljian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks, LP Percussion, and Everyone’s Drumming.