Meet the band: Sam Hooper (guitars, vocals), Sakait N. Baksar(keyboards), Mike Null (guitars, vocals), Derrick James(bass), Reggie Holmes(drums)
A Supergroup of Sorts:With four CDs released on the FBJoy Records label, Hooper, who grew up in Shaker Heights, has assembled a significant discography. His songs have been featured on the daytime TV dramas All My Children and The Young & the Restless. The guys in his band are no slouches. Null is a multi-instrumentalist musician and singer who's toured the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Baksar plays with the local jazz-fusion band Horns and Things, and James is the music director for the band. Holmes has played with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Stitt and others. "They have a wide background in jazz and R&B," Hooper says of the band. "They help infuse the blues with that and give it more of a soul vibe. We do some traditional stuff too. They don't follow the regular 1,4,5 [chord structure]. They take it to another level."
Straight Outta Shanghai:Hooper and Null met in 2010 while playing in Shanghai to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the House of Blues & Jazz. They are regulars at the club and have developed a big following there. Hooper and Null are now based in the Cleveland/Akron area when they're in the States, which isn't often. "My band has played there since 2004," says Hooper. "We had a long residency. We play a few months at a time. When the club decided to have their anniversary, each week, they had a featured performer. They just flew me in and Mike's band was the house band. They're great musicians. We both had been in Boston. I was there for 20 years. He was there and was in the scene. We knew some of the same musicians. We rehearsed in a day and put a show together."
Where You Can Hear Him:samhooper.com
Why You Should Hear Him:Produced by Hooper and Null and recorded by James Kananen in Cleveland at Bad Racket Studios, Hoodoo Blues, a new EP from Hooper and Null, features a classic blues sound. A song like "Messin' with the Hook" features a terrific mid-song jam punctuated by some back and forth between Hooper and keyboardist Sakait Baksar. And Null delivers a gritty mid-song guitar solo too. Mixing and mastering was handled by India.Arie producer/engineer Jim Lightman at JL Productions in Nashville. "We were using some CDs as a blueprint — Joe Bonamassa and ZZ Top and Derek Trucks," says Hooper. "We wanted it to have a contemporary cutting edge blues sound." The album is currently available on iTunes, and Hooper hopes to tour regionally in support of it.
Where You Can See Him:The Sam Hooper Group performs at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 31, at the Bevy in Lakewood.