Duke's news

Winter 2015- 2016

Hello Friends,

Well It's a new year and a while since I've updated the news so here's what's up.

2015 was a slow year for me due to a torn rotator cuff which I am finally recovering from.

I worked very little and was lucky to have Monster Mike Welsh and other talented friends to play guitar for me while I sang on the small number of gigs I did do. We did get to do a 2 week tour at the end of November that covered six countries in Europe and eastern Europe which was great.

I enlisted the help of Alex Schultz on guitar to help out which made it a truly great experience. A short way into the tour I began playing again and it made the tour a really fun one getting to play back and forth with Alex. Two guitar teams are the best when they are the right two players and the combination of Alex and I worked like a charm.

Having so much time off gave me a chance to get back into photography in a big way. And more specifically printing. I found that by having high resolution scans made from film negatives I had taken in the 1990s and early 2000s I could make very satisfying prints on a high quality digital printer.

Since the end of last year I have started working on a photo book of legendary musicians I have worked with or shared the stage with from 1990 to 2005 with Marty Gunther.

I have published a 2016 BB King memorial calendar and started working on a autobiography with Bob Angell and also started printing and reviewing work for a March 26th photography exhibition at the Van Vessem Gallery in Tiverton, Rhode Island this year.

But I am sure you are more interested in the more musical side of things here. There are new album projects that are fairly close to completion for release in the fall of 2016 and 2017. The 2016 release is a collection of some of my favorite songs from the 20s and 30s with and all star band and several wonderful female vocalists.

The project is tentatively titled Duke and His Girlfriends and will feature the vocals of Catherine Russell, Madeliene Peyroux, Maria Muldaur, Kelley Hunt, Sunny Crownover and Elizabeth McGovern.

The core of the band is the Duke Robillard Band with Bruce Bears on piano, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums with a great horn section consisting of Jon-Erik Kellso on trumpet, Billy Novick on clarinet and alto sax, Rich Lataille on clarinet, alto and tenor sax and Carl Querfurth on trombone.

I, of course play acoustic guitar and sing three of the songs. We also have a guest guitarist from Elizabeth McGovern's great group "Sadie and the Hot Heads". Simon Nelson is a fabulous musician and adds a great guitar exchange with me from across the pond on Elizabeth's rendition of "Me, Myself and I".

I am beside myself with excitement about this album and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Now on to the blues.......

Last winter the Duke Robillard Band went into Lakewest Recording to start working on a new blues album. We cut six original Duke blues tunes and a cover of Guitar Slim's "Along About Midnight." Little did I know that soon after that session I would lose my ability to play guitar for nearly a year.

I was extremely loose that day and I played with an abandon I rarely feel in the studio. I happened to hit upon a magical sound that day and with my amp in a booth close by I was able to get really great sustain from the guitar/amp combination I was using which Inspired me to play a bit wilder than I normally might.

I had been waiting for a chance to get back in the studio to cut more tracks for that blues album.

We had just finished cutting basic tracks mid January (2016) for Al Basile's latest project with Mike Welsh on guitar and I was anxious to start work on both of my unfinished albums. We were booked to record the last band session for the "Girlfriends" album when I decided to leave things set up and cut more tunes for our blues album two days following that session.

I had some themes and lyrics floating around in my head and the day before and the day of the blues session i worked hard and came up with a half a dozen new song ideas of which I deemed four just right for the new blues record. So on Friday January 22nd we cut the final four tunes for our next blues album.

It will be a very traditional style blues/early R&B style record and hopefully I will add horns to some of the tracks to make them stylistically accurate.

I should also mention that my most recent release "The Acoustic Blues and Roots of Duke Robillard has been nominated for a Blues Music Award and was named # 45 of 50 of 2015s best blues CDs by Living Blues magazine.

Now that I am playing again, we hope to get out there on the road and bring our music to you all over this country and the world! Hope to see you all soon somewhere on the road ...

That's all for now folks,
-Duke Robillard

I would like to give a tip to all my guitar playing friends about an amplifier I am currently using.

The the company is Louis Electric out of Bergenfield N.J.

The owner, Louis Rosano makes amazing sounding custom amps based on the early Fender tweed 40 and 80 watt twins with several speaker configurations.

Mine is called "The Duke" and its a killer!!! Its got an Eminence 12" Tonker and a 10" Delta Demon speaker and the amp produces tones as fat and sweet as you could ever dream up! Lots of sustain with warm yet bright tone that you just cant get out of most modern amps. Maybe its because they hand build and wind their own transformers.

Or maybe because they use only the best components available and hand wire each amp with care and precision. It could have something to do with the beautiful 100 year old solid pine cabinet with only a stain on it to increase its tonal potential. Or maybe its that Lou tweeks each amp to what you specificly want with exacting skill to get the sound you want at the volume you play at to give you just the right breakup when you want it.

Until now I thought custom "boutique" amps were nonsense until I got my Louis Electric amp. If you've searched and you can't find you're sound, you owe it to yourself to check out Louis electric amps at www.louisamps.com.


Master archtop guitar builder James W. Murphy has build a masterpiece for Duke that Duke describes as "The best archtop I have ever owned!"

It is now equipped with a 1967 model 1100 DeArmond pickup to give it the most classic of warm jazz tones, "gorgeous sound from gorgeous wood is the way I think of my Duke model archtop." Check out James work at his website.