Allow me to introduce to you Laith Al-Saadi
By Adam Signore
But first let’s get this out of the way right now. Go see the indie Blues artist Laith Al-Saadi first chance you get. OK now that that is out of the way, here’s the skinny on Laith’s beginnings:
Laith started singing at four years old at Choir and community events, at six years old he took up piano At thirteen years old he took up guitar and as he says about that: “there was no looking back”. His first band at 15, Blue Vinyl opened for buddy guy and many others. Music in the blood. Laith’s mother who is a musician herself saw his potential and put the work in to make sure he had the opportunities to meet that potential.
Laith sees himself as a singer first and the guitar as an extension of his voice. He has studied extensively in Voice, Jazz Guitar & Bass (Acoustic and Electric) earning a scholarship to the University of Michigan. From a young age Laith felt the singer in him, the guitarist developed after. He had dreams of making it big like any young artist would. Time is a solid teacher and he is very thankful for the success. Like a true artist is happy to be able to make a living doing something he dearly loves.
Always an avid learner Laith has developed a deep appreciation of the many varied regional blues expressions. In talking with Laith we found many similarities as music listeners, charting an almost identical “That 70’s Show” journey of 70’s rock music discovery (like so many folks my age). An avid fan of Jazz, Blues & Rock Laith took inspiration from bands like Cream, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton & Hendrix but blues greats like Ray Charles, Albert Collins, Albert King & especially Danny Gatton. A bluesman at the core and with that combination of deep understanding of the blues and its connection to rock makes Laith a well-rounded musician. One who can live and breathe any style of The Blues (or Rock). Another facet that makes his shows so enjoyable and genuine.
Laith’s a hard working musician who is gaining nationwide popularity. Not solely through his appearance on the voice but also through his skill and perseverance. More about “the Voice” later though. One thing that shines through as a performer and person is his authenticity.
After spending some time talking to him I easily put him in the “one of the nicest and most authentic people I have met category”. I had the pleasure of seeing Laith and band perform this summer at the North River Blues Festival at the Marshfield Fair in Massachusetts. This is where I started learning about him. Let me start by saying this, when you learn about a new blues performer and learn that one of their breaks came from being a finalist on The Voice you are immediately beset with conflicting thoughts; Wait, what, The Voice, that great bastion of the next pop singer and the bluesman finalist???
IMHO it is a feather in their cap that they gave stage to such a talented blues artist and it is a testament to the American people that he was voted all the way to the final round. In music appreciation genre is insignificant, quality of musicianship is. That his talent as a Blues music performer was so widely appreciated in the 16 Million homes he reached gives me hope that the blues will again have mainstream popularity again. Isn’t it overdue?
About “The Band”
Laith for many years has had a core team of players in his band. For over 15 years David Stearns on Bass and Mark Damian on drums have been his core players but like many bands it was a matter of time and circumstance that it became what it is today. Laith would stop in at a local jazz jam hosted by the Atmospheric Disturbance Band with Dave on Bass. Dave stopped in at a local blues Jam at the Tap Room where Laith would also attend. It was meant to be. Same with Mark who came highly recommended to Laith. Mark came down and nailed the Peter Gabriel tune In Your Eyes and it’s been a go since then. Things take time to come together and The Laith Al-Saadi band is no different.
Like many musicians Laith got his start in a high school band named Blue Vinyl and from the start he has had slew of special gigs opening for greats like Buddy Guy, BB King, Greg Allman, Lesley West & Mountain, The Yardbirds, many times for Leon Russel, Luther Alison & many more. Mike had moved to LA and Laith would go out and tour there for a while and come back to variations of the final band. Often these returns would breed a new band name and it was making marketing difficult, so Laith created The Laith Al-Saadi band and as time would have the trio would become set. Today The Laith Al-Saadi band is a rock solid trio that puts on an amazing show, as I said not to be missed.
So, Have You Been to a Show?
If you have then you already know. If you have not then go to a show! I first saw Laith at a great outdoor festival, the North river Blues Festival @ The Marshfield Fair in the summer of 2017. I was just getting to know who this bearded guy was and wasn’t sure what to expect. Initially hearing that Laith was a finalist on the Voice made me scratch my head a little bit as the Voice doesn’t really make you think The Blues.
So this jovial guy walks out on stage and before he starts playing you can tell he’s one of those happy positive types that just adds that much more glow to the room. Being sort of a card on stage he does a great job engaging with the crowd. Once the band starts playing it is clear that this is a tight power trio that can play anything they want to perfection. I need to point out that I have seen two types of players in the Blues scene; both are technically perfect but only one is technically perfect and gives a performance that is genuine, heartfelt, from the soul. Laith is genuine my friends. Go to a show and thank me later.
Let’s Talk About The Voice, Before & After:
Originally even Laith was not convinced that a stint on the Voice would be a good fit. Initially unsure he was eventually convinced to do a VIP audition with a talent agency that knew him and reached out to arrange a private audition. Not your average audition where you sit around for days waiting to be called with hundreds of other people, this was a more professional evaluation, one on one, scheduled audition. Personally if you asked me I would have thought no one would have really been listening but to their credit they were floored and he was sent to the show with a glowing reference.
Laith auditioned with three songs Night Moves, A Little Help from My Friends & Fly Me to the Moon. Laith was in! I won’t go through the process of the rounds, voting, coaching and all. You should be well aware of that. What I will tell you is that though they wanted more of “Fly Me to the Moon” Laith was determined to be true to his Blues roots and thankfully the judges and America people responded to the quality of his performance. Many Americans have since reached out to let him know that they were never really blues people before but that they are converts now. Sort of makes him a champion of the blues if you ask me.
Long before The Voice, in 2006, Al-Saadi was crowned “King of the Blues” for the Northern Region of the United States by Guitar Center. This makes him one of the top 4 Blues guitarists in the Country. In GUITAR WORLD magazine (Nov. 2006) Al-Saadi was heralded as sounding like “Danny Gatton and Buddy Guy at their best”.
Since The Voice he routinely sells out at multiple City Winery locations and many other larger music halls. The Voice opportunity has allowed the band the chance to skip the touring the country in a van phase while the bands talent has allowed them to maintain the momentum that The Voice opportunity has brought. Laith and band have been touring the United States and beyond since then and I wish them well and continued success.
If you love the Blues I think you will find the Laith Al-Saadi Band will rock your socks off. Once seen I promise you’ll be smitten. I am very excited to see him again at The New England Blues Summit in May of 2018. You can find out more about Laith and when he will be in your area on his Website, Facebook or Reverb Nation
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