Super Senior: Singing the blues at the Double E Sessions

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:38 PM EST
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Some Super Seniors in Essex are feeling the blues.

The seven musicians at the Double E Performance Center are in their 70s and have been playing together for years, but this is their first time recording an album together. It’s the brainchild of Scott DuBois, aka “Missisquoi Slim.” “We want the guys that really can play in the old style of blues,” DuBois said.

Also in the lineup is Bob Stannard on harmonica, Dennis Willmott on guitar, Tom Buckley on base, Jeff Salisbury and Kent Blackmer on drums, and past Super Senior Joe Moore on sax.

“With blues recordings, some of the best recordings ever made were in the ‘50s,” DuBois said. We may be living in a digital world but Dubois takes that kind of sound to heart -- everything on this stage is analog.

“We’re using some of the old-fashioned gear to try to recapture that,” Buckley explained.

Vintage musicians using vintage equipment. Most of the instruments and amps were made before the ‘60s. The eight-track reel-to-reel recorder is a tad newer, once owned by a now-famous band. “I didn’t buy it because it’s associated with Phish, I bought it because it’s a great-sounding recording unit,” DuBois said.

The band launches into a version of the Jimmy Reed song “Honest I Do” with Buckley singing. Most of the music they’re recording is from long gone Black blues singers.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You know, except for Joe Moore, it’s a bunch of white guys here.

Bob Stannard: Yeah, it’s all a bunch of white guys. Yeah, we’re all a bunch of white guys playing Black music. I mean, don’t ask me.

“I feel grateful to be this age and to be playing music, the music I loved since I was 14, 15 years old,” Willmott said.

Each band member gets to pick two songs for the album. Up next is Stannard playing his harmonica.

Kent Blackmer started playing drums when he was seven but for this session he’s riding the audio on the recordings, making sure it sounds sublime. “This is old school and sometimes old school is better,” Blackmer said. But for him, music means so much more. “It’s my main reason, it’s who I am.”

“Blues for me has always been about, ‘You think you got it bad, listen to this,’” Stannard said. ))

Music from the past... made new again.