JAZZ, BLUES, & ROOTS MUSIC ‌ Fiery Feelin' 

Terry Evans: Veteran soul man

Terry Evans, 66, got his start as a vocalist in church choirs and as a tenor with various doo-wop and R&B groups — including The Knights — in his hometown of Vicksburg, Miss. He relocated to L.A. in 1966 and stayed busy doing gigs with vocal groups and soul, blues, and rock bands.

"That was a very good time," he says of his early years in L.A. "That's where I got to know guitarist Ry Cooder, who was very instrumental in where I am today as a music artist. I did a lot of work with a lot of top names in the business. One thing led to another."

In the '70s, Evans struck up a professional relationship with vocalist Bobby King. As a vocal duo, they released a number of albums full of Stax-styled soul, gospel, and blues/R&B sounds. Evans continued with King while working as a background vocalist for Cooder in the studio and on the road. Cooder engineered and produced a series of recordings for Evans and King in the late '80s and early '90s as well.

"When I picked up the acoustic guitar and started writing songs, I sort of picked up and went off on my own," Evans says. "I write quite a bit the material inspired by events in my life."

Evans makes his Charleston debut this Thursday in support of an 11-song album titled Fire in the Feeling, released last summer on the Valley Entertainment label. The show is one of the most anticipated highlights of Piccolo's "Blues in the Night" series at Cumberland's.

Evans' current band includes guitarist Joe Colombo and drummer Phil Block (both of whom played on Fire in the Feeling) and touring bassist Sonny Byas.

"We have just a four-piece on this tour,' says Evans, speaking last week from a tour stop in Topeka. "We're playing a mix of music styles, but it's all done 'Terry Evans-style.' There's room enough for everybody in the world of music. Where it goes is where it goes. That's my take on it — just do what you feel, man, 'cause that's the only true thing anyway."

Evans released his first solo album, Blues for Thought, in 1993. Six albums and 13 years later, he and his band are going strong on the latest collection, which lives up to its title and shifts and twists from a swingin' blues sound to old-school soul to slide-guitar Southern rock.

"Friends send songs my way, too,' the singer says of the variety on Fire in the Feeling. "Ry sent me a song called 'My Baby Joined the Army,' which is all about a man's daughter going to Iraq. Another friend, John Rhys-Eddfins [a disc jockey in Nashville and Los Angeles] wrote 'I Got a Pony (She Likes to Ride).' The record company sent a song to me by Ernie Payne called 'Nothing Wrong with Texas {That leaving Won't Fix).'

"There's quite a variety on this new album, as with my nine other albums," he adds. "We cover the waterfront on stage with a few covers and standards, from Otis Redding to B.B. King and back. But I have a certain style ... and you'll just have to wait and see it!"

TERRY EVANS • Piccolo Spoleto's Blues in the Night • $10 • June 8 at 9 p.m. • 4 hours • Cumberland's, 301 King St. • 554-6060


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