Los Angeles has always been a volcanic music town, with a steady series of eruptions that have launched a horde of rhythm-and-blues-informed talents to well-deserved prominence. Characteristically due to their hometown, their styles span a wild spectrum, from pop to soul to rock & roll, but each uses the blues as their elemental foundation, and every one of them has made this sick, square world a far better place to live. A gifted guitar player, Michael Mann became an unlikely blues icon. As a youngster, his wealthy father would drive from the posh area of Brentwood to the various Black nightclubs down in South-Central Los Angeles so that young Michael could experience this music he so much admired. By the time he was a teenager he had already established himself as one of the best blues guitar player the world had ever seen. He continued to grow as a musician, much to the astonishment of anyone who was fortunate enough to experience the phenomenon of this shooting star. His notoriety became cemented when he jammed with blues icon Buddy Guy at the world famous L.A. blues /jazz club… The Ash Grove..where he was anointed his professional moniker… “Hollywood Fats”… He’d show up to gigs in Los Angeles dressed in these bizarre “polyester” suits he had pick up at the Goodwill…Trust me, he could afford to buy clothes at any dapper men’s shop in Beverly Hills..but he felt more comfortable wearing second hand garments..It became his trademark along with his “penciled” in mustache and a well coiffed pompadour…
Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann
The young Mann toured with the greats Muddy Waters, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Witherspoon as part of those famous blues men’s road bands. He could adapt to various blues dialects and inhabit the music as if it were the only style he knew. So in 1979, during the age of disco, punk and glam rock in LA., came the one album produced and performed by “Hollywood’s” Band… “Rock This House”…It became an instant classic… an essential entry into any blues library. An audience was now ready to hear vintage music. An entire scene which embodied west coast retro-cool was emerging and prepared to coalesce around these modern pioneers of the genre.
It was clear that “Hollywood Fats” had an enormous appetite for just about everything which included heroin. He frequently engaged in a kind of excessive dissipation which was then becoming the norm. In an era when depression and anxiety was never diagnosed it turned into self-destruction for this guitarist extraordinaire. Into the early morning hours of December 8, 1986, he and other fellow musicians and friends “partied.” At some point in the evening it was clear that Michael ‘Hollywood Fats’ Mann had overdosed. Rather than face the inevitable questioning by the police, his “friends”abandoned the scene of the crime and left “Hollywood” for dead. It was a tragedy on many levels.
Blues transcends all other music genres.. and it’s not reflected better than by British guitarist, Danny Bryant…He’s a big man with a lot of wallup.. People toss words around like genius, savant or prodigy… In the case of Bryant it’s 100% true. I’ve never heard anybody who embodied all of these things. On top of that, he just keeps getting better and better which, until you hear his fourth studio album, “Revelation” (which is scheduled to drop Friday April 20th), you would think is impossible! He’s a fuckin’ beast!…Yes, he’s that great… Bound for glory. Danny Boy can romp like nobody’s business…Again he has producer, Richard Hammerton who did a brilliant job with Danny’s last two albums…His gift of music is more unnerving rather than comforting. The new album is certainly bound for glory!
In Bryant’s bio, “Musically speaking, this album features my core band alongside the members of my full 9 piece Big Band, a project which I love touring with. It’s great to hear the brass and keys on these songs, they add new and rich textures and I find myself feeling musically more refreshed, inspired and dedicated than I have for many years.”
Rock Bands of L.A.com:You left school when you were 17 years old… You obviously had a great relationship with your family… When did you know you wanted to be a musician? Who were your “muses” as far as influences? You’re 37 years old…. It’s a lifetime to observe the greats… Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page… et. al…
Danny Bryant:I knew that I wanted to be a musician when my parents took me to see a Walter Trout concert when I was 15 years old. This was right around the time I had got my first guitar. It became an obsession to me straight away. Music to me since then, both playing and listening to, has been like oxygen. There was always great music around the house when I was growing up! Lots of Dylan, Clapton, Hendrix, Rory Gallagher etc., and as you mentioned it was a very loving and supportive environment. And I agree it’s a never ending quest learning and studying the greats, which I do daily from Blind Lemon Jefferson to BB King to Albert Collins, the list is endless.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Your new record has a “big” sound.. I love it.. The horns are magnificent, most blues band fall flat when they bring in horns.. but for you it seems so natural… Because of this “thicker” sound is it harder to produce and arrange?
Danny Bryant: I think it comes naturally, because so much of the blues music that I have studied and really immersed myself in features horn sections. I am so in love with those big brassy sounding BB King records, they just knock me out. It is a little harder to arrange, we have to stick to a bit more of a musical formula, because there are nine musicians on stage and the horn players are reading parts. But we still get to loosen up and jam.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: It takes big balls to release a live album like you did last year… Is the big band going to be part of your May/June British tour? Any plans to come to America?
Danny Bryant:We are running the two bands side by side so some shows are a four piece format and some are with the big band. We have a very extensive European tour coming up but no immediate plans to bring it to the US. I toured there a few years ago and had a great time and loved the country.
Rock Bands of L.A.com.:I have to get something off my chest… and please don’t take it the wrong way… Your music getting resounding reviews from “classic rock” press? This is a British thing.. Don’t get wrong the reviews are stellar… Rock and roll in America is just so marginalize that putting music into different “slivers” How do you see music classifications? Classic Rock vs. Rock and Roll vs. Blues..
Danny Bryant:I think it’s a shame music has to be put into a specific category, it can be hard to be labelled. I guess that flipside to that though, is that it is necessary in order to target an appropriate audience. I suppose I class myself as blues with a rock edge, but then again I just I love a great straight ahead song.
Rock Bands of L.A.com needs to thank Danny Bryant for his candor and honesty.. Also the great Peter Noble… the press agent to Rock’s greats….Please come to Los Angeles…
Go to www.dannybryant.com for all tour information…