John Blues Boyd
What My Eyes Have Seen…
Gulf Coast Records
John Blues Boyd was born in Greenwood, Ms. in 1945. He began working in the cotton fields when he was seven years old. He relocated to California in 1980 where his primary occupation was that of a hot tar roofer; singing the blues whenever he would get a chance. Boyd retired from roofing in 2007 to care for his ailing wife, Dona Mae. When she passed in 2014 he found solace in turning to the Blues fulltime and discovered himself to be a prolific songwriter. Boyd recorded his debut album “John The Blues Is Calling You” in 2015; and followed up with “The Real Deal” released on the Little Village Foundation’s label in 2016. Three more 2017 albums followed.
When Guy Hale co-owner of Gulf Coast Records was first introduced to Boyd’s music by Kid Andersen he was mesmerized. Hale states “I was immediately struck by the clarity of his diction and the magisterial tone of his voice…strong commanding but calm. Filled with warm emotions, a palette with many colors and shades… We had to make a record with John”. “Neither Kid or I wanted to do covers, John …deserved songs written for him and him alone”.
“What my eyes have seen…” is produced by Andersen and includes a core band consisting of Andersen, guitars and organ, Jim Pugh, piano; Quantae Johnson, bass; and June Core, drums. Various horn players adorn the ten songs and nine “My Memory Takes Me There” interludes, including Saxophonists Eric Spaulding, Jack Sanford, Nancy Wright, trumpeter John Halbleib, and trombonist Ric Feliziano.
All of the songs written for Boyd are biographical; based on his life. Four are written by Hale with Andersen. The opener “In My Blood” includes the lyric “the blues is in my blood and you can hear it clear as day, ever since the good lord made me the blues was in my DNA”. Other songs written by them include the title track “What My Eyes Have Seen”; “Why Did You Take That Shot”, and “Got to Leave My Mark”.
Four more songs are written by Andersen and Boyd including “A Beautiful Woman (for Dona Mae)”; and “49 Years” the length of time Boyd and his wife were married before her passing as Boyd sings “I’m gonna keep singing the blues until I see my baby again”. “Run Me Out of Town” was written by them with Hale; about the time an eighteen-year-old Boyd was run out of town for joining Martin Luther King’s Freedom March.
“I Heard the Blues” was written by Boyd and features a different ensemble called “The Greaseland Youngsters” featuring Rome Yamilov, guitar; Ryan Walker, harmonica; Robby Yamilov, bass; Lisa Leuschner Andersen, drums; and Kid Andersen on the Farfisa organ.
Andersen’s vision on this project is fully realized as Boyd’s performance is magnificent. His idea of connecting the biographical songs with interludes makes this a work of art. This just might be the “Album of The Year”.