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Duke Street: 'On the Fly'

Spontaneity was the notion behind Rogue Valley band Duke Street's new CD, "On the Fly," a forthright compilation of R&B, blues and soul. The band — guitar player Scott Rogers, stand-up bass player Joe Cohoon, drummer Kent Clinkinbeard, slide guitarist and lead vocalist John Hauschild and keyboard player Michael Vannice — has played for several years regionally, but never recorded together until the group stepped into Thomas Hartkop's studio in May.

"We thought maybe we'd come away with a couple of tunes for a demo to help us get gigs" Hauschild says. "We didn't even know what songs were were going to play."

What they came away with was 11 great-sounding songs — each recorded in one take and all finished in one afternoon. After adding some background vocals to three of the tunes, they dubbed the project "On the Fly."

"We didn't get nitpicky about anything," Hauschild says. "We decided to just let things go and let the chips fall where they may. We picked songs out of the hat as we went, going forward and improvising along the way. It's a good, live representation of the band. This is what audiences will hear when they came to one of our shows."

It's how they used to record records, Hauschild adds. It wasn't always perfect, but it had a groove, and it had soul.

"On the Fly" includes such gems as Jesse Stone's soul-infused R&B song "Don't Let Go" (made popular by blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon) played with heavy bottomed bass lines by Cohoon; and "Drivin' Wheel," written by Roosevelt Sykes and recorded by Junior Parker, showcases bluesy guitar and organ riffs by Rogers and Vannice. "Home in Your Heart," recorded by singer Soloman Burke, moves to the funkier side of R&B; and Hauschild's soulful tenor and Rogers' moving guitar soar a bit more on Charlie Rich's "Who Will the Next Fool Be," arranged as a blues number by Bobby Bland.

"Yeah, that one came in really nice," Hauschild says.

Look for Rudy Toombs' "I'm Shakin'," recorded by Little Willie John; "Pride and Joy," co-written and recorded by Marvin Gaye; and "Magic Sam" Maghett's funky "You Belong to Me."

"Some of the songwriters may sound obscure because their songs were recorded or made popular by better-known artists," Hauschild says. "These are names that you don't really see a lot, but the songs have been recorded by a range of R&B, soul, blues and gospel singers."

Hauschild began listening to singers Burke, Bland and Maghett when he was a teenager. By the time he was in his 20s, he was in deep, he says.

"None of this stuff would sound good without a solid rhythm section," Hauschild says. "We love to play with Kent and Joe on the bottom end."

Duke Street took its moniker from Duke Records, a label that started in Memphis, Tenn.

"Kent and Joe had wanted to play together for a long time," Hauschild says. "They approached me about forming a group, and I suggested Scott for a guitarist. The topper was when Michael wanted to join in on keys. He's an impeccable musician and has played with some big names in the blues and jazz world. All of us know and understand this music, and we know how to play it. 

"We're obviously of an age where we're not looking for our first YouTube hit, but we still like to get out and play live shows," Hauschild says. "Everyone enjoys a stellar moment. If you work with great guys who can do their jobs, then you can get to the stellar moments. You'll sound better and play better shows. We all respect what each other does."

"On the Fly' has inspired the band to work on another recording, one that may include original music, Hauschild says.

Love seems to be the dominant theme on the new CD.

"Well, what else is there?" Hauschild laughs. "There's all kinds of love."

"On the Fly" is available on Duke Street's Facebook page, CD Baby and iTunes. Also look for it at the band's live shows set for Thursday, Aug. 14, at EdenVale Winery in Medford; Friday, Aug. 15, at Caldera Tap House in Ashland; and Monday, Aug. 21, at Red Lily Vineyards in Jacksonville.