Our September 2015 Blues Boogie band will be Charlie Butts & The Filter Tips. This band is one of the longest-established R&B dance bands in the Inland Northwest and has been playing high-energy funky dancin' blues and R&B around the Inland Northwest since 1994. The Inland Empire Blues society honored this band with the Best Blues Band award in 2012. The musical influences of the members of this band run the gamut from R&B to soul to funk to blues and jazz. They present a wide variety of styles, with the common thread that it's all danceable. This is now an all-star band, with members obviously have fun doing what they do.
Charlie Butts plays saxophone and harmonica, both with a super-high-energy style. The saxophone sounds like Junior Walker or Maceo Parker, with perhaps a little David Sanborn influence mixed in. It's a soulful, driving, rhythmic style that sounds like a very happy person making music. His harmonica playing has an aggressive, Chicago blues style that sounds like someone holding nothing back, like a mixture of the hard blowing of Paul Butterfield with the funkiness of Junior Wells. His singing is R&B oriented, rhythmic and smooth. With a career dating back to 1970, he has developed unique styles with his voice and both instruments. Charlie has been nominated in 19 of the 20 years of the Empire Awards, recognized as best horn player seven times and twice for the harp. That's a lot of blowin', but he's got a lot more air in there. Although the all-star lineup has changed over the years, the strength and energy level remainins high. Charlie will tell you the best part is the musicians he brings with him: "I'm just groovin' to these guys - like standing on the shoulders of giants". Like Joe Brasch, a guitar god who can squeeze your soul with a few hand-picked notes, or shred you to your knees with a raging blast. Or Mark Norton, a keyboard master who can modulate your mind while he's shaking your shoes. Or Luther Hughes and Brian McCann on drums and bass who have that funky groove locked up so tight nobody can take it from you - ever. It's what they call the Filter Tip Magic - there's nothing else like it.
Joe Brasch plays guitar and sings. He combines exceptional talent and technique with tremendous experience in almost every musical style. His emotions run from introspective soulfulness to explosive intensity. He has been lighting up stages locally and nationally since the 1970s, having played with the legendary All Fall Down and lately with Rare Earth's Peter Rivera. When Joe starts a solo you never know where he'll take you, but it's generally somewhere you haven't been before, and you'll want to stay there! He is the perfect complement to Charlie's energy; Charlie just wishes he could make the saxophone sound like that. The bottom line is that there is no better guitar player in the Inland Northwest.
Mark Norton on keyboards has been playing and singing professionally around Spokane and the western U.S. for over 30 years. His classical training evolved into a love for jazz, funk, R&B and fusion. He has played with several touring acts including Del Shannon and The Diamonds, and has been a featured soloist at jazz concert venues throughout the Northwest. He currently can also be heard playing with the awesome Spokane horn band Soul Proprietor. He brings consummate technique, energy and passion to the band, along with the perfect feel for whatever style the band is playing. He can complete the perfect groove with Brian and Luther, provide a smooth flow or explode with riveting solos.
Luther Hughes sings and plays drums. His experience over 30 years includes R&B, Rock, Funk, Gospel and Blues. During his tour of duty with the Air Force, he played in officers' clubs from the Philippines to Korea to Spokane. He became well known in the Spokane area with the band Black Moon Rising in the early 90's. He has provided the power for several other projects, including Da Blues Funk Party, the Burner Brothers and the Dara Quinn Project. His steady strength and tightness seem effortless, like something that can be taken for granted. His pocket is so secure, it makes it easy for everyone else to sound profound.
Brian McCann plays the bass guitar, completing the Filter Tips' perfect groove. Brian is a classically trained monster; it's astounding to hear him play with the Bob Curnow Big Band, where he rocks the house while sight-reading music he has never seen before. He's a young lion, brilliant, expressive and explosive – and downright funky. He has an instinctive feel for R&B, soul, funk and blues as well as jazz. It’s like he grew up in the 60s, without the years to show for it. He lays in the pocket with Luther so well it’s mesmerizing. But watch out for the bass solos – he can really light the place up. His energy is contagious, and pushes everyone to the limits of their imagination, The band has released three CDs: the high-energy live recording "Fire in the Hole" in 1996, the studio production "Told You Once" in 1999, and "More Peas" in 2011. They produced a DVD in 2005 from live performance footage.