Jim Blackwell, leader of The Real Time Blues Band, was playing guitar when he was 10 years old. Music was a vital part of his young life in Albany, playing all through high school and college. But in 1977 he married and moved to Atlanta, leaving music behind for the next 28 years. His journey back began in 2003, when he heard guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughn for the first time.
“I had never heard of him until then.” said Blackwell, “When I got out of music, I got out of music. For the next two years I listened to all of his stuff.”
Then in February 2005, when he was 48, Blackwell picked up his guitar again, saying to himself; “If I’m going to do this, now is the time.”
By July of that year, Blackwell, who sings and plays lead guitar, had teamed up with Chuck Jenkins on rhythm guitar and harmonica, and bassist Mark Moore. Drummer Robert Hatcher, who use to play for a Christian heavy metal band called “Last Days,” joined and The Real Time Blues Band was formed.
“We took our name from a blues tune we really liked, “Real Time Blues,” by James Solberg,” Blackwell offered. For a year this group of four “well-over-40” musicians offered up a wide range of blues, playing with an ease and enjoyment that came across as band that had been playing together for years.
A couple of the guys knew of then 24 year old Jason Yeatts, a young man with a great voice, and within a year the singer and rhythm guitar player made it five.
“I love to sing,” said Yeatts, “These guys are seasoned, and grown-up about it.”
Blackwell says that at first, they were looking for a vocalist who played keyboard, but once he heard Yeatts sing, that changed.
“I told him; I’ve heard what I needed to hear. You’ve got a great voice,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell spoke with the rest of the band, and the “baby of the band”, as he puts it, was onboard. What developed was a very rich and layered weave of their electric axes. If you enjoy clean and solid blues guitar licks, then Real Time is a group you will want to hear first chance.
That won’t be hard. RTBB plays primarily in the Albany area for events and private parties, and has been a regular at Shugz BBQ on Philema Road for the last couple of years. Blackwell says that venue became such an enjoyable booking for the group he penned a “Shugz theme” that became a part of their Shugz set. They have also played at Albany nightspots, Mugsy’s and Gumbee’s, and The Power Line in Damascus.
On Friday, Jan.15, the guys will return to Buck’s Place in Ellaville for their second gig there.
“We’re looking forward to that. This time, we’re playing the big room.” Blackwell said with a smile.
Blues is the main format, but RTBB works in healthy sides of classic rock and soul as well. Being that so much of those two styles draw significantly from a blues history, it’s a smooth transition from genre to genre for the band. It’s a lifelong musical passion and appreciation for the music that drives them.
Yeatts says that regardless of any ups and downs they may face as a band or in life, they will keep playing; “We’ll push through it.” You can hear four RTBB songs, “You Upsets Me Baby”, “The Thrill Is Gone”, “I Feel Good,” and a gusty blues rendition of ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ at www.myspace.com/therealtimeblueband. The Real Time Blues Band proves that it’s never too late to chase your dreams, and that “anytime is a real good time for the blues.”
Written by Lon McNeil.