The Butanes
Blues Profile

Under the leadership of guitarist Curt Obeda, the Minneapolis-based Butanes have been cultivating a loyal following of Blues fans and Blues musicians alike for almost 15 years. A Blues protegť, Obeda began his career playing guitar with the Twin Cities Blues luminaries of the late 70ís and early 80ís: Mojo Buford, Baby Doo Caston, Lazy Bill Lucas, Big Walter Smith and W.C. Handy Award winner Sonny Rodgers. A short tenure in Chicago polished up Obedaís guitar playing skills and cemented friendships with many Windy City Blues men, notably Albert Collins, Hubert Sumlin, Lefty Dizz and Smokey Smothers.

Today, the bandís stellar reputation rests on their ocean-deep soulfulness and unparalleled technical ability. Even in the relatively loose environs of the nightclub scene, The Butanes consistently seek out and play the most demanding songs, firing off an astonishing variety of tunes like they are second nature. Obeda is a master of long, Albert King style, double stop bends. Or he can abruptly, and comfortably, switch to playing the rapid-fire single notes of B.B. King. The band is likely to open a show with a blazing rendition of "Gate Walks To Board," a gritty cover of "Use Me" or an Obeda original. Crowds respond immediately to the urgency of The Butanesí music: the dance floor stays crowded, the bartender stays busy, and all eyes stay fixed on the stage.

The Butanesí high level of musicianship has caught the attention of many national Blues figures who consistently hire The Butanes as a backing band. They have played behind John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Johnny "Clyde" Copeland, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Dawkins, King Floyd, Robert Ward, Al Rapone, and Pinetop Perkins at various Twin Cities venues. Fenton Robinson used the band at Duluthís Bayfront Blues Festival when he was recorded for Public Radioís Blues Stage.

The Butanes are in constant demand by artists outside of the Chicago realm as well. New Orleans guitar legend Earl King chose the band to collaborate with him on his forthcoming Black Top C.D. and to back him on a three week tour of Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Ireland and England in September 1993 as well as at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival from 1991-97, the Black Top Recordsí Blues-A-Rama, the Bayfront Blues Festival, Buddy Guyís Legends and the First Annual St. Croix Blues Festival in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Grammy-award winning Zydeco accordionist Al Rapone has completed East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Carribean and Alaskan tours since 1992 with The Butanes disguised as the Zydeco Express Men. Al and The Butanes recently released "Al Rapone Plays Tribute," a tribute to the late Zydeco great Clifton Chenier on Atomic Theory Records.

If Chicago Blues, New Orleans R & B and Zydeco arenít enough The Butanes have helped rejuvenate Soul legend James Carr and persuaded Louisiana Soul Man Dalton Reed to come to the Twin Cities for his first ever show outside of Louisiana. Along with the Memphis Horns they backed Percy Sledge, Mighty Sam McClain and James Carr at the St. Louis Blues And Heritage Festival in 1996. The St. Louis Festival hired the Butanes as the 1997 "house band" to back Don & Dewey, Ben E. King, Gene Chandler, the "Ladies of Soul Show" featuring Sugar Pie DeSanto, Bettye Lavette, Mable John and Laura Lee, Roscoe Gordon and Goldwax recordsí Louis Williams and "Wee" Willie Walker. Throw in shows behind King Floyd, James "Thunderbird" Davis, Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon, Little Johnny Taylor, Francine Reed, Frankie Lee, Lady Bianca, Lee "Shot" Williams and Long John Baldry, plus shows on their own, and itís safe to say The Butanes are the band of choice wherever there is Blues. Ask any Blues fan or Blues musician... The Butanes are the Twin Citiesí Blues treasure.

Sara Oxton

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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