The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth

The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth

Love Light Orchestra

Vinyl includes download code

The Love Light Orchestra celebrates the Memphis big band blues style found on the 1950’s & 60’s singles of Bobby “Blue” Bland, B.B. King and Herman ”Junior” Parker.  The band of seasoned Memphis musicians derives their name from Bland’s 1961 hit “Turn On Your Love Light.” Their sound is completed with the soulful voice of bluesman John Nemeth.

In addition to dipping into the catalogs of Buddy Ace, Freddie King, and Percy Mayfield, the band demonstrates their deftness with uptown blues via the solid originals “Singing For My Supper, “Lonesome and High,” and the Ray Charles-inspired opener “See Why I Love You.” Casual fans of Memphis music might only recognize their cover of Al Green’s iconic “Love and Happiness,” but it’s reset here as a shuffle, building upon riffs that horn player, Marc Franklin, says were inspired by Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus.”

The Love Light Orchestra’s overall sound, says Franklin, was inspired by Joe Scott whose work Franklin discovered after he was hired to play with Bland in the early ‘90s. “The first time I heard his work it sounded like Ellington, but more downhome, with extended harmonics that you don’t necessarily hear on blues or soul records. It’s a jazz thing, throwing extra notes into the chords—at Stax they didn’t do 6th chords.”

Grammy winning producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang cut the record live at the tiny DKDC bar in Memphis, and recalls “it was more or less done after we cut it. This music is really supposed to be heard live, to be in the room to feel the horns, and it turned out magically—lightning in a bottle twelve times in just a couple hours.”

Scott Baretta

Former editor, Living Blues