Terraplane Blues defines diversity...Men and a woman, black and white, young and mature, electric and acoustic all meeting on a common ground ... the blues. Think sweaty dancers, raunchy rhythm, mean slide guitar, heartfelt vocals from one superb blues diva, gritty harp and loads of fun. Seasoned to perfection and cookin' just right, they take you back to those juke joint times.
* June 2004 - Jennifer Wright (Terraplane Blues) sings with Koko Taylor at the Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank, NJ). Koko Taylor asks Jennifer to sing with her on tour at various prestigious festivals (details TBA).
* June 2004 - Deanna Bogart wails on saxophone and sings harmony with vocalist Jennifer Wright at the show Women Who Cook.
* 2004 - Terraplane Blues releases 2nd CD Jubilee Stomp.
* 2003 - Gary Wright (Terraplane Blues) plays slide guitar and sings Howlin' Wolf number with the Howlin' Wolf Tribute Band at The Stone Pony (Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Vivino, Levon Helm, David Johansen, Southside Johnny). He also played guitar in the back up band for Lonnie Shields & Georgie Bonds at the same show.
* 2001 - Phil Proctor and Gary Wright sit in on harmonica with Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers.
* 2000 International Blues Challenge Finalist (largest battle of the band in the world). Produced by The Blues Foundation, Memphis, TN. Grammy winner Ruth Brown hears Terraplane Blues perform her song, Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean.
* 2000 - 2003 Asbury Music Awards Nominee for Top Blues Act, Top Female Vocalist, Top Blues Harmonica & Top Drummer.
* 2000 - Jennifer Wright sings with Handy Award winner Johnnie Bassett at Jason's Jazz & Blues Club.
* 1999 Lehigh Valley Blues Network Competition Winner. Shemekia Copeland and Michael Cloeren (producer of Poconos Blues Festival) were 2 of the 5 judges.
* 1999 - Big Bill Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters) sits in on guitar with Terraplane Blues at Blues, Brews & BBQ (Jackson, NJ). Jersey Style quotes him saying "My daddy always used to reach out and help upcoming musicians. The Terraplanes seem like great people, and I'm going to go on over and jam with them now."
* 1999 - Debut CD, Yesterday's Blues, receives international attention on the radio airways in various countries including Germany, Poland, Australia, Denmark, Macedonia, England & Italy.
* 1998 - Terraplane Blues releases debut CD Yesterday's Blues.
* 1996 - Terraplane Blues begins their juke joint journey as a sextet (female vocal, slide guitar, rhythm guitar, harmonica, bass & drums).
OPENED FOR, SHARED THE BILL, AND/OR PERFORMED WITH:
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Big Bill Morganfield
Jerry Lee Lewis
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Big Mama Thorton
Mississippi Fred McDowell
Big Bill Broonzy
Electronic Press Kit
Jubilee Stomp (2004)
Yesterday's Blues (1998)
Terraplane Blues Opens For 'Gatemouth' Brown
The Hub (Drew Bolognini)
...The band's seamless transition between traditional Delta Blues, raucous juke joint Rhythm and Blues and Post-War Chicago styles, provided a lesson in the evolution of the Blues. The ensemble took the audience on a tour through the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta, to the electrified big city blues pioneered by the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
...Their dynamic lead vocalist Jennifer Wright opened the set by belting out her original composition...Her performance of the Ruth Brown hit "Mamma, You Treat Your Daughter Mean," and the equally huge Etta James number, "I'd Rather Go Blind," drive home the point with sincere reverence towards these giants of the genre.
...Gary Wright, whose slide guitar work and vocal style is steeped in tradition and as good as it gets. Combined with the powerful harmonica work of Phil Proctor and an extremely tight rhythm section...Terraplane Blues provides a palette of rich and flavorful blues morsels. They are tilling the landscape, laying down the fertilizer and planting seeds that can be harvested by the next generation
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Here's To The Ladies
Upstage Magazine (Jerry Pashin)
If you like blues, R&B, or classic rock, you owe it to yourself to catch Jennifer Wright performing with Terraplane Blues, co-led with her husband Gary. Jennifer is a Bessie Smith/Janis Joplin incarnate...I was overwhelmed by the power of her voice, yet remaining sensitive. Her phrasing is impeccable, and she can wrap her voice around every listener in the room...she could have been successful in any genre of music. Jen is a mixture of grit and sensitivity. ...Ruth Brown, an influential rock pioneer, actually got to hear Jen, at a sold-out show in Memphis, sing her song Mama, He Treat Your Daughter Mean live by telephone. Later that year, Ruth honored Jen by dedicating a song to her at The Blue Note.
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Upstage Magazine (Jerry Pashin)
Gary...attained the status of virtuoso on guitar...possesses flawless technique on his instrument. From slow blues to up tempo tunes, each solo is crafted with thought and precision. The content of his work remains fresh and alive and never caught up in clichÃ©s....I was immediately overwhelmed by the energy level of the band. Gary's guitar work and vocals were outstanding. Add the power and soul of his wife Jennifer's voice, and I was blown away...WOW! People stood on chairs and reacted to the music as if it were a revival meeting. Gary [Wright]...is a "chameleon." He takes on the personna of the musician whose song he is performing. Gary studies and researches every song he performs. "My goal is to find my own voice. Every song I play, I feel like everyone I've been influenced by. Maybe it's the licks or the body language. It comes from the way people move. Like a Bo Diddley or a James Brown. Hope it all comes out as me!" Gary's reading and research show he's done his homework, and no one does it better... If you like Robert Johnson, you must catch one of Gary's performances. He is somehow possessed by Johnson's spirit. He brings Robert Johnson to life! You are in store for a real treat! Traditional blues at its best. And believe me, it doesn't get any better!
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Band has one thing in common: the blues
Asbury Park Press - The Islander
The band comprises a mix of generations, genders and cultures, but in a day when more and more groups are adapting a hybrid of musical genres, the Terraplane Blues Band plays only one thing - the blues served straight-up, old-fashioned and authentic...the band has been getting such a positive response from so many types of music fans.
Their formula is to cook up raw, gritty blues in the tradition of Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thorton and Etta James. Like its influences, the band's emotional charge is known to spill over to its listeners - and critics. In January, a few months after winning a Battle of the Bands competition in Pennsylvania, Terraplane Blues was one of 57 groups to be selected from 2,000 internationally to travel to Memphis, TN, for the 16th Annual International Blues Challenge. Ultimately, the band was one of eight finalists in the competition.
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Women Who Cook
Four Blueswomen in one place at one time and BluesWax was there....blown away by Koko Taylor, Janiva Magness, Deanna Bogart, and Jennifer Wright. These women don't just cook, they sizzle! Ladies, not only did you pull our musical heartstrings, we heard your deep passion for your craft. And that's what made it special -- each one took her own turn and style in portraying what she felt as her inspiration, her muse. And, oh boy, did it make us jump!
Taking the first turn as a local girl and Red Bank favorite daughter, Jennifer and her band, Terraplane Blues, jumped out with "Amazing Grace," putting everyone in an open mood, and moved into Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues," fleshed out by rich chunks of slide guitar. A stormy sax made everything come clean for "Dirty Laundry" while Jennifer growled and prowled before us, and the intensity rose when she modified the Etta James classic, "I'd Rather Go Blind" by changing the tempo. The pleas and begging of "Momma, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," supported by Deanna B. on fiery sax, brought on a wave of applause and howls of pleasure.
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Terraplane Blues Tore It Up @ Legendary Hogs & Heifers
The Musical Arm & Central NJ Coalition for Peace and Justice
Last night several Coalition members attended a gig in NYC by Voices of the Revolution alumni Terraplane Blues at the legendary Hogs and Heifers. They tore it up and represented Central Jersey by blowing the room away. There was a whole lot of bumpin', grindin', and money-maker shakin'. The interplay of Gary Wright's Fender Telecaster and Phil Proctor's harmonica have provided some of my favorite live jam moments over the past year or two. Jen's vocals hit Etta James-like heights consistently and she unveiled some great material off of their upcoming album.
Bluesman Gary Wright
Two River Times
Now, if you are a serious blues fan, Gary Wright is a must hear. There are few artists in this area that are playing the Delta blues the way Gary does...stone cold, stripped down, authentic blues, the way it was meant to be played. And what makes Gary even more interesting (and a real treat) is that while he may be singing the Delta blues, he's playing his Washburn Stratocaster in a style most reminiscent of the boss of North Mississippi hill country blues, Mississippi Fred McDowell, as well as his fellow hillsman, R.L. Burnside...22 years of experience tugging at your heart and soul.
...[Gary Wright] plays that real deal blues style, where the guitar just keeps tuggin' at your heart and the vocals keep pokin' holes in your soul. Gary Wright is still kickin' butt and playing that same style blues that makes him so special...just knocked me out with his down-in-the-dirt, woeful, soulful vocals...Gary plays such a sizzlin', left-handed, slide acoustic guitar...you just had to sit up and take notice.
Things will be cookin' in Basie's kitchen
On June 5 at 9 p.m. at the Count Basie Theatre, the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation will present the aptly dubbed "Women Who Cook," featuring four of the most potent female blues performers around. Deanna Bogart, Janiva Magness, Red Bank's own Jennifer Wright and the incomparable Koko Taylor will amaze the audience with a powerful mix of blues styles.
Jennifer Wright is no stranger to local blues lovers. This dynamic vocalist has thrilled audiences for years as part of the six-piece band Terraplane Blues (finalists at the 2000 International Blues Challenge).
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Blues has always been here
"Good music transcends time." These words, like his music, come straight from the heart of Gary Wright, a 44-year-old Red Bank blues singer and guitarist who has dedicated his life to the art form of traditional Delta blues and its rich musical legacy...With childlike enthusiasm, Wright describes the simple ingredients of the music that has brought comfort and joy to anybody who's ever been down on their luck. Wright emphasized the role of passion and rhythm in blues music, which has its roots in Negro spirituals, gospel music and the emotional struggles of blacks, particularly in the South from the times of slavery and the Great Depression to the present day. "It's got a life force to it. You can't take that and package it like a box of Wheaties, because it comes from the heart," he said. "It's a part of me."
Wright's passion and sincerity seem to reach listeners of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
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He says, she says: Husband-wife duo fronts Terraplane Blues
Asbury Park Press
Ever since the Terraplane Blues Band's brilliant debut CD came out in 1998, fans have been patiently waiting for a follow-up. On Sunday, they'll get their wish, when the group debuts its "Jubilee Stomp" CD at the Walt Street Pub in Red Bank.
Most of the songs on "Jubilee Stomp" are originals, and the new album reflects the band's evolution, beginning with its early days performing at the Walt Street Pub and at other Shore-area clubs such as CrossRoads in Asbury Park.
"We've been together as a band eight years now, and we've gotten to know each other a lot more intimately. It definitely shows through on this album," said Red Bank's Jenn Wright, who fronts Terraplane Blues along with her husband, Gary.
Gary said the band recorded most of the new album at John Noll's Retromedia Sound Studios in Red Bank in an all-analog fashion, with no digital equipment. A few tracks were also recorded at Word-of-Mouth Studios in Long Branch.
"We set the whole band up and just recorded in two sessions, as if we were playing a live show," he explained.
The band members agreed there was a warmer sound to be had from old transistor tubes and 24-track reel-to-reel tape.
"We did some overdubs, but we kept them to a minimum," Gary said.
The Terraplane Blues Band, together for eight years since Jenn and Gary expanded the act from an acoustic blues duo, includes Phil Proctor on harmonica, Joe Santora on guitar, Rich Downs on bass and Darryl Walkowicz on drums. Dan Mulvey from Sonny Kenn's band adds upright bass to some tracks on "Jubilee Stomp," and back-up vocalists include Scarlett "Lee" Moore, Evelyn Lewis and Siddeqah Foster.
"They did the backing vocals on 'I've Gotta Sing,' " said Jenn, adding that the track is an autobiographical song about her own experiences.
Jenn, who was raised in East Brunswick and Holmdel, said "I've Gotta Sing" "is about different stages in my life: a period when I wasn't really focusing on my studies in college (James Madison University), as well as a time when I was in an abusive relationship, as well as when I came down with Lyme disease and was in and out of hospitals, very sick. Gary was with me through the Lyme disease. Then I found God and got very spiritual. I gave my life to Him, and my life has changed since then."
Raised on Long Island, Gary took independent study courses at Stoney Brook in Long Island and now works with autistic adolescents at Rutgers University's Developmental Disabilities Center in New Brunswick, something that takes "a lot of patience," he said.
As for the couple's approach to songwriting, "Sometimes, she'll have lyrics and sometimes I'll have lyrics," Gary said.
"It's rare but great when the lyrics and the music come together at the same time," Jenn added.
Two songs on "Jubilee Stomp" were created that way: "I Gotta Sing," Jenn's autobiographical gospel-blues tune, and "Ain't Puttin' Up No More," a song that came to her in a dream.
"There's also a song we wrote called 'Queens,' about the queens of the blues," Jenn said. "For that one, we lost the lyrics at one point and had to rewrite it. There was a lyric book we carried around with us and it just disappeared at a gig somewhere. Now, we put everything on the computer and do back-ups."
With Jenn Wright's powerful stage presence as a shouting-style blues vocalist in the tradition of Koko Taylor and Etta James, and Gary's unique guitar stylings coupled with a tight rhythm section, the Terraplane Blues Band make a powerful impact at their live shows. It's a band that has something to say, rather than playing tired old versions of "Sweet Home Chicago" or "Big Boss Man."
Take, for instance, "Asbury Nights," a song on the new album that was originally written by Jim Grande, president of the New Jersey Coalition for Peace and Justice. Politics and blues long have gone hand in hand, and this song is no exception.
Explained Jenn: "We met Jim Grande last year and he said he had a song he thought we might be interested in. I really liked the song, but I wanted to reflect the changes in Asbury Park that were more positive in recent months."
So she and Gary added a verse.
"We sent it back to him and he was pleased with the changes," Jenn said.
The song is about urban renewal, and is written in broad enough strokes to be applicable to Asbury Park as well as to Lincoln, Neb.
"It's about what's going on all over the country," Gary Wright said. "About who is really benefiting from urban renewal, and how typically, it's the people with money, not the working-class folks or the sub-working-class folks. When they hear the song, people might think we're putting Asbury down, but we're not."
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Check out the artist's website:
1. I Got What It Takes
2. Nobody Knows
3. Litterbug, Litter On
4. Rock Me Mama
5. Found Him In The City
6. I've Got The Blues
7. Drop Down Mama...Even The Pope's Got To Boogie
8. Fish In Dirty Water
9. That's All Right Mama
10. Ol' Dog
11. Nothin's Changed
12. I'm In Love Again
13. Yesterday's Blues