The Original Blues Brothers Band is alive and well. Original members hand picked by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd have assembled the ultimate rhythm and blues review and have emerged as a powerful entity in their own right. The Blues Brothers Band, best known for the feature films The Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000, and the triple-platinum album Briefcase Full of Blues and the soundtracks from both films.
Blues Brothers is not just great music, it’s serious fun. Everyone in the band has a ‘blues’ name. Like ‘blue’ Lou Marini… according to Blue Lou his name came about when ‘Dan Aykroyd told us that we were going to be in the band and he suggested that everybody had to have a blues moniker of some kind. He also intimated that if we didn’t come up with one ourselves, he’d be happy to supply one, and as you know, especially when Danny goes into the character of Elwood, he can be pretty inventive, and so I thought it best to supply my own nickname before he got to me. There was an old jazz tune that my dad – who was a wonderful teacher and saxophone player also used to love and used to play – had a record that I used to listen to called Blue Lou and so the Blues Brothers Band, the blues… It rhymes. Blue Lou, it was sort of a no-brainer.’
For Marini, it was the gig that skyrocketed him to instant fame.
‘It’s funny though, because I remember when my son was 11 or 12 we did the first tour. The first big gig after the record was at Pine Knob in Michigan, outside of Detroit, and there were 20,000 people there. (John) Belushi and (Dan) Aykroyd were at the height of their popularity with Saturday Night Live, and the band had just had a number one record. When Belushi introduced me, my son was onstage standing over by the speakers, and that was the first time that it occurred… but it happens all the time now… and they started going, ‘Blue Lou, Blue Lou’. At first he thought that they were booing me, and I remember he had this stricken look on his face. How could 20,000 people be booing his dad?’
Of course they weren’t boo-ing – quite the opposite! Years on, Marini is still as keen to get onstage and play the classic Blues Brothers music as he was in the day.
‘It seems that as I’m getting to the narrower end of it all, there is an increased urgency to play and enjoy it and savour my colleagues,’ says Marini. ‘One thing that happens when you have a long career such as I’ve had, and luckily, I’m sort of responsible and I’ve never, knock on wood, had any health problems. Consequently, I’ve enjoyed a long and varied career, and because I was always open to playing different things is one reason that I think my CV looks the way it does. I’ve luckily been able to play with all these great players, and that’s the main thing that I think about when I look back on all of it. That is really from the time I was about 18 or 19 years old, I’ve been playing with great musicians my whole life, and that is a gift and a joy that is just on every level, as colleagues, as friends, as people to enjoy making music with, I’ve had a wonderful ride, man. I’m still digging it. We have a three-month tour with James Taylor coming up, and we were in Australia the last year with James. I’m still – knock on wood – I’m grooving.’
According to Marini, two things underpin the music of the Blues Brothers.
’One is to play this music and to play it right. The only way to do it right is you have to play full out. When we finish the opening medley of The Blues Brothers, my stomach hurts from playing so hard. It’s like that the whole night. We’re playing full out, and it’s tons of energy and everybody plays that way. Then the other thing is that after all these years and all the crazy stuff that’s happened to us on the road, we always have said that we should’ve had a film crew travelling with us, because the stuff that happens to us is crazier than anything and funnier than anything we ever got in the movies. We are really brothers, and I think both those things the audience responds to.’
The Original Blues Brothers band plays Bluesfest this Easter. For program and ticket info go to www.bluesfest.com.au