Tammi Savoy and Chris Casello | Bello Winter Music | Bellingen | 11–14 July
Imagine a young woman with a powerful, soulful voice that nails the classic 40s, 50s and early 60s R&B and rock’n’roll sounds. Match that with a great stage presence accompanying a perfect visual adherence to mid-century vintage style. Now combine her with the killer rockabilly instrumentation of slapping upright bass, swinging drums, and virtuoso guitar and you’ve got the Tammi Savoy and the Chris Casello Combo.
Coming directly from Chicago for their first Australian tour, Tammi Savoy and the Chris Casello Combo came together just a couple of years ago and have taken the roots and vintage worlds by storm with appearances at Viva Las Vegas, The Nashville Boogie, The New England Shake-Up, and more.
You’ve said ‘Rhythm and Roll’ best describes the music your rockin’ little outfit plays. Is that a genre you guys created or is that a thing in the States where you’re from?
Tammi: My husband George suggested this because he had read it in reference to early rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll shows of the 1950s. Back then early rock’n’roll was considered rhythm and blues. We thought it fit perfectly and later decided to use it as our EP title.
If you were taking to someone without an intimate knowledge of music how would you describe Rhythm and Roll?
Tammi: Rhythm and roll is our mix of rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll. Our sound has also been best described as ‘mid-century rockin’ R&B’ by Beck Rustic of Swelltune Records.
Tammi, your voice and vocal dexterity are beautifully suited to the ‘soul’ sound. Was soul / rhythm and blues the direction you always wanted to take your music or has it been less planned?
Tammi: I honestly had no plan in the beginning. I started out as a backup singer. I honestly never thought that I would even end up being a lead vocalist. I was brought up listening to many genres including soul, R&B, jazz, funk, Motown, and much more. I am sure that there are many influences that contributed to my sound. I will mention that the one thing that stuck with me were the times I saw women on television singing jazz songs with elegant dresses on and singing along with a big band. I loved seeing singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan to name two, and beautiful women in old Hollywood films always caught my eye. I also loved seeing The Supremes in their elegant dresses performing onstage.
How about you Chris – your bio reads like a novel of diverse musical experience and performances. Where did it all begin for you in terms of your musical career?
Chris: It started at the age of seven years for me. I found my mum’s collection of 45 RPM records that consisted of the Sun, Specialty, and King Labels. They were mostly early rock music records. I also watched television and seeing Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and many more artists that had fancy-picking guitar players really influenced me.
Can you tell us the story of how you guys started playing together?
Tammi: We met at a gig when I was singing backup in a band I am a part of (Lance Lipinsky & The Lovers) and Chris was the sub guitarist in the show. Later, on my hubby’s birthday, he wanted to see Chris perform. I sat in on a number (Jim Dandy) in one of Chris’s gigs at Honky Tonk BBQ in Chicago. That moment was captured on video by the hubby and is on my YouTube channel. Chris and I watched that video multiple times and, during a conversation, we both agreed that it was great and it was as if we had been playing together for some time. We both felt that we had something special musically that we wanted to share with everyone. I remember mentioning to Chris that I had always wanted to come out with a 45 RPM record and he said that was a great idea. Shortly afterwards, we got together to record a rehearsal in the basement to see what it would sound like and it clicked from day one. We have been booking shows and performing together ever since.
What has been your most memorable performance together so far?
Chris: We both can agree that the most memorable performance so far has been when we opened for Tommy James at the historic Arcada Theatre of St Charles, Illinois. The fact that we were opening was a surprise to the audience and they were not familiar with us, but to our surprise by the end of our performance we received a standing ovation.
You’re on the way to Bello Winter Music Festival in Australia this year. Have you guys been to Australia before? Are you excited?
Tammi: Neither one of us has been to Australia before and we are both very excited.
Where else is your 2019 tour taking you? Is there anything you’d like to share with your people here in Byron Bay and Bellingen?
Tammi: As well as our Australian tour we have a few tours in 2019. We will be in Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, England, and we have several dates booked in the US. There is always something new and exciting happening so be sure to sign up for our mailing list while you’re there as we are constantly working on new songs and new music.
Tammi Savoy and Chris Casello Combo play Bello Winter Music Sat 13 and Sun 14 July.
Tickets at www.bellowintermusic.com