October 12, 2018, 6:00 pm at The Saxon Pub, 1320 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
As an adolescent and young teen in Dallas, Texas in the late1950's, Denny Freeman heard on the radio the radical new sounds of people like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Chicago and Louisianna blues artists like Muddy waters and Slim Harpo. Freeman would go to concerts that featured folks like Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Ruth Brown, and the Clovers. In the 60's there was Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and the wonderful jazz of the time. All of it contributed to the music that Freeman would come to play. Primarily a guitar player, he has played piano and organ on his own and other folks records and gigs over the years. Jennifer Warnes has him playing piano on one track (The Well [Reprise]) on her latest release. His piano playing also appears on James Cotton and Jimmie Vaughan albums. He toured on Jimmie Vaughan's first solo outing as the piano player. Denny has been the main writer on the songs on his four, mostly instrumental albums, and teamed up with Kathy Valentine of the GoGos and Clem Burke of Blondie, to submit music to Deborah Harry for the Blondie "No Exit" album. Deborah wrote the lyrics, and "Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room" was born. He also co-wrote "BaBoom (Mama Said)" with Jimmie and Stevie Vaughan for the Vaughan Brothers' "Family Style" album. After touring for a year and a half with Jimmie Vaughan in the mid nineties, he toured w/ Taj Mahal and the Phantom Blues Band until late 2002, playing guitar. It was during this period that Taj' Grammy winning CD, "Shoutin' in Key" was released. "Playing with an American icon like Taj Mahal was a real honor for me. We went all over Europe and to Japan, and it seems that there are Taj fans in every nook and cranny, all over the planet." After growing up in Dallas, going to college in north Texas, and a brief sojourn in L.A., Freeman moved to Austin, Texas in 1970. Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall, and Stevie Vaughan soon followed. If you were a musician, a part of the sub culture, or just had long hair, Austin was the place to be in that part of the world, at that time. It wasn't so much of a music town, Freeman observes. " It was the kind of place that musicians in the early 70's found hospitable. Lots of pretty girls, cheap rent, a laid back atmosphere, those things were especially helpful, in those days." The word got around and musicians are still moving there, today, although things have changed, like everywhere else, and cheap rent is certainly a thing of the past. The main thing, though, that these folks had in common, was that they came ready to play blues. Unhappy with the direction rock was heading after the demise of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, blues was the only thing that appealed to these and a few other people. But still it was a struggle. Of course, Jimmie, w/ his Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Stevie finally found some commercial success. Freeman lived and played with Jimmie and Stevie off and on through the 70's and 80's. There just weren't many players interested in playing blues, so the pool was small. "I first heard Jimmie Vaughan play in Dallas, when he was 16, and Stevie a few years later, in Austin, when he was around 17. It was obvious, even then, that we would be hearing from these guys. It took a while, but eventually most fans of guitar, the world over, came to know about them, too. We became friends, roommates, bandmates. Stevie still owes me $30 rent." In 1975, the world famous Antones Night Club opened up. At first, the T Birds were the house band, providing backing for the famous Chicago, and other, blues artists that were booked. In the early 80's, another house band was formed, and Freeman had guitar and piano duties, backing up blues giants like Otis Rush, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Jr. Wells, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Lazy Lester, and many, many more. "It was beyond anything I could have imagined. I never thought I'd see most of these guys, much less get to play with them. Some of the shows were recorded, so I'm even on records with my heros." In spite of Freeman's work with Austin blues bands and blues artists in L.A., where he lived from1992 until late 2004, he doesn't consider himself a "blues guy". "I'd rather think of myself as a guitar player." The compositions on his four albums display a love of three chord rock n' roll, soul jazz, blues and old school r&b and soul music. "I'll always love listening to my old blues records, and trying to play it (blues), but I don't want to be stuck in that bag. I like to go out on a limb, sometimes. I also love ballads." Clem Burke plays drums on his latest CD, "Twang Bang." Some of Freeman's early recordings (late 80's) ended up in low budget, mostly horror films. One, "Mortuary Academy", featured Paul Bartel and Wolfman Jack. He recently was in the studio (eraly 2004), playing on the new Percy Sledge album, "Shining Through the Rain", which includes a Denny co-write (w/ Fontaine Brown), "Love Come and Rescue Me", as well as his own new project. In October (2004), he was in the studio, with C.C. Adcock, and Scott Nelson and Mike Keller, working on Doyle Bramhall's forthcoming album, "Is It News?". (Spring release) Denny played in the Bob Dylan Band from 2005 until August 2009, and plays on the Bob Dylan album, "Modern Times". Since the autumn of 2009, Denny has been playing in Austin, Texas a lot, mostly at the Continental Club, Antones, and The Gallery, and in DFW area clubs, and is preparing to record.