Eric Gales, Harry Hmura
Doors open at 8:30 pm.
ERIC GALES: You want the blues? “Unfortunately you have to go through some things to be free”, says Memphis born Eric Gales. “Now, I feel the most free I’ve ever been in life, even more so than when I was a kid”, he opens up. “You gotta help yourself man, once you can help yourself you can genuinely help someone else.”
The title of his new album Middle of the Road is the running theme throughout the record. “It’s about being fully focused and centered in the middle of the road. If you’re on the wrong side and in the gravel you’re not too good and if you’re on the median strip that’s not too good either, so being in the middle of the road is the best place to be.”
Middle of the Road is Eric Gales fourth album on Provogue/Mascot label Group (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Black Stone Cherry, Warren Haynes, The Robert Cray Band, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band) and it sees him at his most expressive yet; it is a deeply personal and reflective record that echoes where he is in his life right now and he opens himself up and allows himself the chance to really flourish.
It’s well documented that Gales was a child prodigy and heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix when he released his debut album The Eric Gales Band in 1991 as a 16 year old on Elektra Records. It was the first of 10 albums on a major label through a blistering career. He has released 14 studio albums in total ahead of Middle of the Road and a host of other collaborations, one of which led him to work with producer Fabrizio Grossi (Alice Cooper, Joe Bonamassa, Billy F. Gibbons, Ice T, Leslie West, Slash, Walter Trout, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai, Paul Stanley, Supersonic Blues Machine).
Talking about working with Eric, Fabrizio Grossi offers; “I’ve been a fan of Eric since I first worked with him 15 years ago on a project with George Clinton & the P.Funk. His tone and his playing was wicked. Personally and musically Eric grew into a ‘monster’ , a really good one and he’s set on a path of huge success with a ‘taking no prisoners’ type of attitude! I know a very few musicians with such a musicality and Eric is right there a head of the bunch. I hope fans will dig. There’s lots of love, tears, sweat and “truth” in this record, which is what classics are made of. As far what I think about him: Eric is simply Miles Davis’ and Jimi Hendrix’ love child, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Recent years have seen an array of musicians singing the praises of Eric Gales. Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction – Red Hot Chili Peppers) exclaimed that “How Eric Gales isn’t the hugest name in rock guitar is a total mystery”, modern blues icon Joe Bonamassa said he is “One of the best, if not the best guitar player in the world”, whilst Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge) said in a Classic Rock Magazine interview (Oct 2016) that “me and Myles [Kennedy] were on the bus looking up clips and we ran into some Eric Gales clips and we were just like ‘this guy could be the best player on Earth.'”
Talking about the accolades he is starting to receive he humbly adds;” It’s absolutely great, I’m grateful to see the recognition for the work that God has allowed me to continue to progress with. It’s beautiful to see the recognition to be finally coming and in the proper way, unlike times where I was engaged into heavy addiction, where it wasn’t such good publicity, but to see it be changed around, it’s a great turn of events.”
This refers to the time he spent in jail serving at the Shelby County Correction Center in 2009 for possession of drugs and a weapon. Elaborating he adds; “While I was in there all the officers and guards were like, ‘bro you know this isn’t where you’re supposed to be. When you get out of here, go take the world by the horns and ride it all the way out.’ It took a couple of years after but, I’m here.” Whilst he was incarcerated he was able to play shows, for the Mayor, the city and festivals, his own version of Johnny Cash Walk the Line.
This is where Middle of the Road finds the rebirth of Eric Gales. A new album that has seen him more free than he’s ever been and on the biographic songs you take this journey with him. Along the way he brings in not only a host of guest and collaborators, but also those closest to him; Lauryn Hill, Gary Clark Jr, Eugene Gales, LaDonna Gales, Lance Lopez, Raphael Saadiq and Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram.
“When I say the world will hear about it, you’ll see what I mean when you hear the record,” he says. “This record is going to take me everywhere that I’ve never been, and everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go.” Eric Gales
HARRY HMURA: Three years after Harry Hmura graduated from high school - he was just twenty years old - he was asked to play with Muddy Waters' sideman, James Cotton. James Cotton became the Chicago blues harmonica master of his time, right along with Little Walter and "Shakey" Horton. Harry toured the US and Canada and he met many of the blues legends who created the sounds we know as Chicago blues, the musical bedrock for so much of our contemporary music. With the help of his new friend, Ken Johnson who was James Cotton's drummer, he went to all the clubs in town to listen to all the greats touring through the city. In his own words, "The one person I give thanks to at all times is Kenny Johnson. May he rest in peace! He was a big brother to me from the first day I met him at Cotton's house. He was encouraging and inspiring. I owe it all to Kenny (Johnson) and James (Cotton)." Thanks to his friends/band members, he often sat in alongside Muddy Waters, Dickey Betts and the Allman Bros., Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Junior Wells, Elvin Bishop, Roy Buchanan, with Hendrix’s drummer Buddy Miles and with Muddy Water’s pianist Pinetop Perkins.
On one of his first stops with Cotton, Harry performed in New York's Radio City Music where Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter and BB King were on the same bill. Johnny Winter had been one of his musical idols when he was growing up so playing with him is etched deeply in his memory. Playing with greats - who are now legendary musicians- brought a deep sense of responsibility; this is the kind of mentorship that turns protégés into future masters. Harry was very young and he had only dimly sensed how powerful music could be.
Shortly after leaving James Cotton, another blues harpist, Sugar Blue heard him perform at the original Checkerboard Lounge (once home to Buddy Guy) relocated in what is now called Bronzeville, Chicago. Sugar Blue (another Grammy-awarded artist for his work with the Rolling Stones) heard him that night and hired him to tour Europe with him. Harry toured Europe with Sugar for close to two years.
When he came back to Chicago, Harry formed his first fusion group “Countdown” in the mid 1980’s. At that time, he also began to record in studios for TV and radio commercials for sponsors ranging from Kraft, McDonald’s, Flintstones Vitamins to the Oprah show. He has now performed on local and national TV shows, A&E’s American Justice, Biography, WGN, National Geographic, NBC, WTTW-PBS, Storm Stories, History Channel, Discovery, ESPN and VH-1.
In 1994, Harry recorded with smooth jazz artist, Brian Culbertson. He then went on to tour with Brian for the next four years. Harry also wrote, co-wrote and produced several songs for Brian's next two records, “Modern Life” and “After Hours”. On the Modern Life CD, Harry co-wrote the title track and Out of the Mist. On the After Hours CD, he co-wrote Inside Pocket. As Brian Culbertson grew in fame, Harry performed in larger and larger audiences all over the world.
Harry then left Brian to release his first solo CD, “Passion” in 2002 on United One Records.
“Face To The Sun,” Harry’s second release on his label, Stormcloud Records, delighted fans reaching from Mexico to Canada. The CD includes band members of international Latin vocalist, Luis Miguel.
It is a sensitive, melodious ode to Latin guitar. These works are a testament to the vitality and largesse of Harry's spirit. Looking into the light and living with passion and commitment are his mantras. Harry has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival twice, once with James Cotton and under his own name and band.