Hamilton Loomis uses funk, soul and rock to broaden audience
January 8, 2010
If you go
What: Hamilton Loomis
When: 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
Where: The Tugboat Grill & Pub, 1860 Ski Time Square Drive
Steamboat Springs — Growing up near Houston, Texas, guitarist and singer Hamilton Loomis was steeped in a grizzled, downtrodden brand of traditional blues music.
Coming through the scene as a teenager, Loomis turned heads and garnered praise as a rising star in that blues world. But only parts of that scene had anything to do with the rest of his life. In the years since he's started finding his own sound, Loomis has broken with tradition and headed in a funky, soulful direction.
"I found that I have to be true to who I am as a person," Loomis said in a phone interview. Traditional blues songs — Freddie King's "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" or B.B. King's "How Blue Can You Get" — talk about enduring serious hardship, trembling in pain for a love gone wrong, scraping by and singing the blues because that's all there is.
"That's not me. … I'm from the suburbs — let's be real. Let's just put it all out on the table. I'm not going to write songs like that. I'm going to write songs that are appropriate to my life," Loomis said.
A child of the 1980s, Loomis grew up listening to Prince, Stevie Wonder and pop-rock bands along with recordings by the blues masters. His version of blues music reflects those influences, he said.
"My take on blues specifically is that I have a more modern spin on it. I put more of a modern spin on blues, because I feel like blues needs to grow and get outside of that comfort zone," Loomis said.
Loomis and his band will bring that funk, soul, rock and blues blend to The Tugboat Grill & Pub for shows Monday and Tuesday. The music starts at 10 p.m., and admission is $5 at the door.
The live show is all original songs, but Loomis is free with throwing in quotes from famous tunes. He does a tribute to Bo Diddley in the course of the set, pulling out a red rectangular guitar the blues legend and former mentor passed on to him.
Loomis has been coming through Steamboat during the winter for about 10 years now, and he comes to the Tugboat this time around in support of his recently released album, "Live in England." Loomis and his band recorded the CD during a five-week tour of the United Kingdom in the spring.
The record offers elements of Loomis's live performance — the audience response and energetic back-and-forth — that might not come through on studio albums, he said.
"We really just engage the audience and put as much energy out there as possible," he said.