Blues Deluxe

Musical Spotlight: Blues Deluxe

Article By Abby Parks

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Anniston, Alabama has seen its share of seasoned local musicians take to its venues and stages to entertain Calhoun County residents and transplants alike. You’re probably familiar with some of these performers and have seen them form bands, duos, or trios, or entertain solo. What’s fun is when a group of seasoned pros come together and create a buzz, not only over their collaboration, but over the quality of music they perform. Such is the case with the blues rock band Blues Deluxe, fronted by none other than Anniston’s Police Chief Nick Bowles and long-time local music legend Robbie Jordan. This 5-member band is poised to demand attention as it continues to grow in popularity.


I caught up with Blues Deluxe at their first official “venue gig” (their first public appearance was at Noble Street Festival 2024 on April 13) at Sinclair Social last Friday night, June  7. The band includes Nick Bowles on electric and acoustic guitar and lead vocals; Robbie Jordan on keyboards, acoustic guitar, and lead vocals; Steve Junior on electric guitar; Doug White on bass; and Brett Lloyd on drums. Given the local support afforded all five of these men (not to mention the fact that three of them–Bowles, White, and Lloyd–work for the police department), it was not surprising that Sinclair Social was packed out for the evening.


Blues Deluxe’s blues-infused rock style, influenced by other styles like Southern rock and a hint of country, features a driving rhythm, tight musicality, gritty vocals, and toe-tapping grit. Their energetic show included covers by time-tested popular artists and bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Break Down), Rolling Stones (Jumping Jack Flash), John Cougar Mellencamp (Authority Song), Chris Stapleton (White Horse), Blackberry Smoke (Till the Wheels Fall Off), Tracy Chapman (Give Me One Reason To Stay Here), and Snake Farm (Ray Wylie Hubbard). Other bands they cover include the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Doobie Brothers, Whiskey Myers, Steve Earle, John Mayer, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.


Blues Deluxe came together much like many bands do–local connections, friend-of-a-friend, and long-time friendships. For example, Junior and Lloyd met through playing together in their church’s praise band. Meanwhile, Bowles orchestrated an impromptu blues band that included policemen like Lloyd for a Christmas parade in 2021. He had brought his bass guitar to the station for another man to play, but White recollected, “I went over there, obviously curious, and he started showing me a few things on it. I was like, oh, this is kinda fun. For the next two weeks, every day after work I’d sit over there and just thump on it.” To which Robbie added jokingly, “You were bass-curious.” 


When White needed a repair on a bass he had purchased, Junior was recommended, as he does instrument repairs on the side. That brought the initial four musicians together, with jam sessions resulting. On the band’s formation, Lloyd recalled, “I knew everybody but Robbie already from different places like work, and had played with Steve at church for years.  I told those guys, ‘Steve is awesome. We should probably get together and play some music.’” 


After the foursome had been rehearsing a while together, Bowles felt that something was missing in their sound like an organ/keyboard–something extra. “It took us about two months, but we finally romanced Robbie into gracing us with his presence,” Bowles declared tongue-in-cheek, “…coming in and rounding us out. He’s been a great addition and really fills the holes and expands what we do…the genres we can go into.” 


Robbie Jordan is well-known in local music circles, having fronted the local country band The Robbie Jordan Band 13 years ago, and performing regularly as a solo act and as part of the duo Robbie and Marc (Womack). As Robbie had mainly focused on guitar for years, he was initially a bit hesitant about joining the band.


“I resisted joining the band because, first of all, I didn’t feel comfortable with my keyboard skills, and second of all, I hadn’t done a band in a long time,” Jordan relayed. “And I kind of told them, if I get in this band, I’ll be wide open. And now I can’t wait to play. I’ve looked forward to tonight for a month; I looked forward to that date in April, and after that date passed I said I can’t wait to do it again! It’s been a long time, so it’s nice to get that feeling.”


Jordan isn’t strictly relegated to keyboards, though he admits he enjoys playing them as he can sit more to the back and observe the guitarists. He does pick up an acoustic guitar 30-40% of the time, and he lends his seasoned baritone to singing lead for roughly half of their current setlist.


Junior added, “When we got Robbie, that kind of sealed the deal, and it all came together at that point.”


The other frontman, Nick Bowles, is also known in the area for his musicianship, largely due to his prior rock band Stone Free which lasted from 2005-2015. Having played in bands since age 14, once Stone Free disbanded, Nick switched over to solo gigging at places like Heroes and the 19th Hole and jamming alone. He finally realized he wanted to play with others again. “I kind of missed it. There’s nothing like playing with guys that want to play the same type of music and having that electric whole band sound–I was itching for it.”


Steve Junior grew up in a musical family with a dad and brothers who instruments, and got his feet wet at the age of 14, playing in garage bands in high school, as well as bass in other projects. Calling himself “the senior” in the group (mid-fifties is hardly that), he has focused on playing at his church and tending to his family until now.


“I had no intention of joining a band, but I couldn’t not join this band, because it just came together so well,” Steve shared. “You know how with music [you can] struggle to make things work–we don’t struggle. It just came together.” 


Brett Lloyd has played drums for 25 years, having started around the age of 12. His experience lies in Southern rock, including being a member of a local band called VTR early on, as well as contemporary Christian music in numerous church bands. Meanwhile, Doug White has only been playing bass for 2 ½ years, however, that does not minimize his apparent talent or the accolades he’s received from his fellow band members. As Junior put it, “Doug (being pretty well new to what he is doing) has come a really long way and is a fabulous bass player because it usually takes people years to do what he’s doing now.”


All the band members were very enthusiastic about playing that night, as well as their upcoming shows. They are booked out until November at area venues like Coldwater Mountain Brewpub (July 12), Old Crow Farm in Ohatchee, and Rack and Roll Billiards


From having attended their show, I can say firsthand that it is an invigorating and entertaining one. If you’d like to sample what they are like live, check out the following TikTok videos of Blues Deluxe covering classic rock songs: Video 1, Video 2, and Video 3.


Nick wrapped up our chat by describing what being part of this new band has been like: “When you’re just kind of noodling at the house by yourself, you’re not really expanding your horizons–you’re just playing in a box, stuff that you like. But when you have other guys coming in, and playing songs you’ve never played before, it helps your brain learn something new, and you expand your horizons. It’s helped me as a musician to play with people and not just play my own stuff. You’ve gotta be a band, and that’s part of it.”


Check out the Facebook page for Blues Deluxe for details on their upcoming gigs.

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