Life in the fast lane worked for Bobby Flurie 5/29

July 07, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Guitarist Bobby Flurie was only a 20-something performing in Washington D.C.'s night-club scene when a booking agent asked him to play with Quicksilver Messenger Service, one of the bands that started the 1960s San Francisco music scene.

"I was like, 'Yes, of course,'" said Flurie, now 58 and living in Frederick, Md.

He didn't know what he was saying yes to. Those two years of performing on stage with Quicksilver Messenger Service meant flying in and out of cities daily, so much that all he saw was the inside of the hotel and the venue. Sometimes he'd forget where he was.

Flurie didn't know he was saying yes to the fast life. But had he not gone, Flurie might have missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime: A chance to play with other national acts, taking in what he saw and heard and using it to craft his own sound.


Flurie has played with Country Joe & The Fish, The Pointer Sisters and Gary Lewis and the Playboys. He returned to San Francisco this past September for a performance with Quicksilver Messenger Service, a commemoration of the Summer of Love of 1967. He also played with Quicksilver when they performed at The Maryland Theatre in July.

Flurie said he grew up in the Baltimore area, but his mother lives in Frederick. He moved back to Frederick 10 years ago to take care of her. Since then, he's been performing as part of the four-piece ensemble, The Bobby Flurie Band.

The band plays blues and blues rock. Flurie said his style of play was influenced by D.C.-area guitarist Roy Buchanan.

"His guitar would actually cry," Flurie said. "It would actually sound like it was talking."

Flurie has recorded five albums on his own and plans to record an album with his band. He spends his days writing new songs and is still trying to find his own voice among all the musicians who've influenced him throughout his career.

"Sometimes, as you are writing a tune, you have to ask yourself, did I hear that somewhere else? You have to ask yourself this question to make sure your source was clear, that your idea was your own," Flurie said.

About the band

Name: The Bobby Flurie Band

Guitar, vocals: Bobby Flurie

Bass: Tim Lawrence

Drums: Mike Colfer

Keyboard: Mike Kelly

City: Frederick, Md.

Genre: Blues, blues rock

Influences: Guitarist Roy Buchanan

Where to hear them: Western Maryland Blues Fest, noon to 12:45 p.m. Sunday, June 1, at the City Park bandshell.


Q&A with musician Bobby Flurie

Q: Who would you say are the big names in blues music right now?

A: Charlie Musselwhite is an old friend of mine. I have always liked Jeff Beck. John Lee Hooker and I were acquaintances from San Francisco. I really couldn't tell you who's my favorite. I think of myself as an average, everyday player. So when I listen to others, I listen to the things they do that I'm not.

Q: Who are some of your non-blues influences?

A: Jimi Hendrix. Really I would consider him blues. I'm a fan of anyone who plays (blues).

Q: Who'd you listen to growing up?

A: Well, the local bands. All the local bands were hippie rockers. There was a band out of Baltimore, Light, and DC Dog.

Q: You've worked with a lot of artists. Surely you have some memorable moments.

A: I do; there are many. One time, I was playing a concert in San Francisco. I was playing a song called "Harlem Nocturne." So I heard a saxophone playing behind me. I turned around and there was this 6-foot guy with this tiny sax. It turned out to be Clarence Clemons, the saxophone player from Bruce Springsteen's E Street band.

Q: What artists impress you?

A: Boz Scaggs still moves me. I still enjoy going to see any national act because they have a kind of polish that local musicians haven't acquired yet, as far as being relaxed in front of a big crowd ... I like to see new (artists), and see how they're taking the same chords -- the same because there'll never be new ones -- and making new arrangements.

Q: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

A: Well, hopefully still breathing. I don't know. Basically, I live each day writing new music.

Q: Who are you looking forward to hearing at Blues Fest?

A: I'm looking forward to Savoy Brown, (Charlie) Musselwhite, of course, and Guitar Shorty. I don't know much about him, but with a name like Guitar Shorty, he sounds like somebody I'd like to see.

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