Brother Yusef has been described as a master solo guitarist, as well as a uniquely passionate vocalist. He has honed down his guitar skills and god-given vocals for over thirty years and has created a sound that had to be christened with a new name, Fattback Blues. Fattback Blues combines "traditional" finger picking and slide guitar playing with the contemporary feel of urban blues to create a full band sound with one guitar. He uses his right hand thumb to beat out a percussive bass-line and shuffle, while the index finger plays rhythm and lead lines.
Today, Brother Yusef has six albums under his belt and has demonstrated that there is growth in mastery and longevity in an industry that tempts artists to change in order to fit in. His new album (scheduled release date: summer 2014) is carefully being crafted at his home studio and will include all original material that will not waver, but stay true to his unique, raw and intense emotions to encompass the Fattback sound.
He remembers first hearing the call of the Blues as a young child attending church with his grandparents in Bakersfield, California. Like any young musician, hungry for musical enlightenment he picked up a guitar at age 19 and began experimenting with reggae, r&b and jazz. He would find himself at a musical crossroads in 1989 while paying his last respects to his grand-father at the same little Bakersfield church from his childhood. A soloist at the funeral played a soothing church hymn on guitar that instantly connected Yusef to his grandfather, elders, and ancestors in the rich tradition of the blues.
Brother Yusef has gained recognition from audiences and musicians throughout North America and Europe for his range of sounds and emotions -sadness, joy, anger and laughter. His fans are also found in places as far as Asia, Australia, and parts of Africa. Sharing the joy of the Blues with the world is his deepest passion.
Louis Armstrong said it best, "The main thing is to live for that audience, 'cause what you're there for is to please the people." This is the core belief of this highly acclaimed band, and dancers from events like bluesSHOUT!, Montreal Dance Fest, Nocturne Blues, Mile High Blues, and more are singing (and dancing) their praise:
"You wouldn't believe the amazing feedback we're getting. I don't think I've ever had such a great response to a band."
-Heidi Fite, bluesSHOUT! founder
"First off, they rock. Secondly, the name is no joke: they really lay the heat down and make your nether regions want to jump around."
-Davis Thurber, Montreal Dance Fest founder, teacher and performer
The Fried Bananas was first assembled in 2006 under the guidance of co-leaders Shawn Hershey and Josh Fialkoff, who are both dancers themselves. Together they carefully crafted the Bananas' sound, drawing inspiration from jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Dr. Michael White. Since then, this versatile band has evolved to incorporate other blues influences from New Orleans to the Delta, from Chicago to New York City, from the 1900s to today. So if you're looking for Ballroomin' or Jookin', or perhaps something a tad on the funky side, The Fried Bananas has your back, and your dancing shoes.