Judy & The Blue Rose to Play Saturday Afternoon at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival in Paducah
Judy & The Blue Rose features local musicians from multiple bands, including the Black Eyed Susans, Bantha Tracks, Barely Blue, and Leonard the Band, fronted by solo artists Fate McAfee and Melanie A. Davis. Tracy Ross speaks with McAfee ahead of the band's Saturday performance at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival.
McAfee and Davis have both performed on the singer-songwriter stage at LTAMF over the years. But when Seth Murphy reached out to McAfee to offer a main stage slot, he decided to put together the full band.
Judy & The Blue Rose will be the first time this specific line-up has performed live together. The group consists of Brian Rader [guitar] and Zack Winding [keys] of Leonard the Band, Kayla Little and Sofia Woods [vox] from the Black Eyed Susans, and Ben Stone [drums] and Mason Henry [bass] of Bantha Tracks and Barely Blue.
"It makes it a lot more fun to be in a group like that," McAfee says. "These people are really good at what they do. Not only do I enjoy being around them, but they're fantastic musicians. So, you get to take your songs, present them to them, and let them do their own thing with it. It becomes something much more special, much bigger than what you had in mind originally. All these people have been involved in so many different bands over the years, for us to be able to come together as one group for this show is pretty cool."
The JATBR set will feature originals by both McAfee and Davis. "I kept going back to the Dr. Dog approach, which, now that I think about it, is sort of like the Beatles where you have two front people, and you switch off who's taking the lead vocal and whose songs are being played. About half the set is Melanie's songs, and the other half are mine."
"I thought it would be neat to incorporate the lap steel for it," McAfee continues, "to get away from having three guitars. We have Brian Rader from Leonard the Band, and he's got it. He's got the lead playing. So, I thought it might be nice for texture to work the lap steel in. That was fun to rewrite parts on the lap steel that I had originally played on the guitar."
McAfee says that incorporating the lap steel into songs where he also sings the lead vocal has been tricky. "We have the Susans singing—so, Kayla Little and Sofie Woods—and if you heard them, you know they don't miss. So, I have to be really good about being on pitch vocally. And the lap steel is a fluid instrument; it's up to you to find the intonation for it. Managing both of those while also having backup singers has definitely made me up my game a little bit."
Judy & The Blue Rose performs at 3 pm on Saturday, May 14th, at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival. For more information on the festival, visit the Yeiser Art Center's website.
Listen to the full interview here: