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An Interview with Roomful of Blues
@ Brew Bakers, May 1, 1998
by Stacy Stockhausen

McKinley "Mac" O'Dem, Greg Silva & Chris Vachon
Brew Baker's, 5/1/98
Photo © 1998 by Frank Schreiber. All rights reserved
Roomful of Blues has remodeled. The swing - jump blues band of thirty years, has gone through many transformations. However, their most current and dramatic transformation occurred the first of this year, 1998. The band replaced five of it's nine members. The new band members are Greg Silva on bass, Al Weisman on keys / B-3, John "Wolfman" Wolf on trombone, Kevin May on baritone saxophone and McKinley "Mac" O'Dem on vocals.

The remaining band members are John Rossi on drums, Chris Vachon on guitar, Bob Enos on trumpet and Rich Lataille on alto and tenor saxophone. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with the band about the transformation.

Stacy: When was the last time the band had a turn around like this?

Bob Enos: The previous band had been together for six years, but this is the largest turn a round at one time in the history of the band.

Stacy: I saw you last time you were in town, it was December and you had just released your Christmas CD. How did that work out for you?

McKinley "Mac" O'Dem
Brew Baker's, 5/1/98
Photo © 1998 by Frank Schreiber. All rights reserved
Bob Enos: That was the best thing we did with that band, as far as I'm concerned. Pure vintage Roomful. We evolved with that album and with this next album you'll see us evolve farther.

Stacy: When is the next CD coming out and what's the name of it?

Bob Enos: The new CD is due out this August. It's called There Goes The Neighborhood.

Stacy: So this new CD will feature the new members?

Bob Enos: Yeah, and we have a very special singer, McKinley "Mac" O'Dem, he has a R & B background.

Stacy: Was recording this CD different than the others?

Chris Vachon: Yeah, it was different, we had a record to do and right then two people left, then there was a third guy, a piano player, that was ill. And we went 12 months without a piano player. So, in the end he had to leave too. Then we got Al (Weisman). Everybody we got, was at the last minute. It was like....

Bob Enos: We were real blessed to get these guys

Chris Vachon: Yeah, we were. We got really good guys. Then we went right into the studio and made this record. And you know, we're really excited about this record. We formed the band in the studio.

Stacy: How would you describe the new CD?

Chris Vachon: Well actually, we got some traditional stuff -- it sounds total Roomful, you know, what most people think about Roomful. Then we got, some stuff that is more mainstream. That's been working good for us.

Stacy: Say, what's that I hear about a W.C. Handy Award?

Bob Enos: Yeah, we just found out, that the horn section won a W.C. Handy Award for Best Instrument Other.

Stacy: Congratulations, that's very impressive.

Even with all the transformation, Roomful of Blues is still Roomful. I just have to say, that interviewing these guys was a treat. They all have a really great sense of humor and had me laughing non-stop. If you ever get a chance to see the award winning group, do it. They'll have you up on your feet dancing. I guarantee it.

This interview is copyright © 1998 by Stacy Stockhausen, all rights reserved.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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