The Belltower (Chris Bell) plays American roots music, where jazz, soul and R&B all come together. “It’s all blues,” says Chris when commenting on his music or his biggest influences. From Lou Rawls to Dr. John, Grant Green and B.B. King, from Ray Charles to the Funk Brothers. They are all masters of innovation as much as they are a part of the classic blues tradition. The Belltower is part of that tradition and he approaches performance like a storyteller, building on a style that’s been around a while.
2014 The New Year is under way and I’m working on the next Belltower Blues Explosion EP. We’ve cut 6 tracks (4 original tunes and 2 great covers) for this next recording. I’m really happy with the way it’s coming along. Drumming wizard Aaron Lack and bass guru Pat Harris worked their magic along with the horn section of Dan Torosian (tenor) and Rick White (trumpet) over at Alnico Studios here in South Austin. We have finished editing and now we’re on to the mixing. Keep your eyes and ears open for this release this summer! In the meantime, I have the pleasure of being the featured artist with Texas Music Hall of Fame drummer Ernie Durawa and his band at Strangebrew in South Austin. Ernie’s group is killin’ and I’m honored that he asked me to come by and play with his group. If you’re in the neighborhood on May 6th come by and check it out. Last but not least, I’m going to try and escape the Texas heat again this summer and head north to play some gigs with my long time friend Jeff Salisbury in Vermont. Come by and say hello if we happen to be in your area. Hope to see you at the next gig!
Fall News Fall is here in Texas and we’re getting a break from the crazy heat. It’s been a busy summer playing with The Belltower Blues Explosion and my other main gig, The Magnificent 7. Playing with these guys is a real honor. Their stuff is swinging jazz played by a bunch of guys that know how to play the blues! It’s just the way I like it! I had the honor of playing with my friend Philip Marshall and his group The Estuary a few times this summer and we were lucky enough to have the one and only Jason Marsalis in the band. Jason is a fantastic musician (drums AND vibes) and a wonderful guy. As far as my group goes, we’re really starting to sound like a band and have been adding some great tunes. I’m hopping to take this group into the studio and make a new record. Take care and hope to see you all on the next gig!
Spring Tour I’m looking forward to playing some gigs in Vermont the last week in April. The dates are as follows 4/24 On Tap Bar and Grill in Essex 7pm, 4/25 Red Square in Burlington 7pm, 4/26 51 Main in Middlebury 8pm and 4/27 Moog’s Place in Morrisville 9pm. AND a solo guitar gig at Diane Bell’s art closing on 4/28 at Magnolia’s at 1:30p. Joining me on the trio dates will be Jeff Salisbury on drums and Jan Schultz on bass. Come out and say hello if you’re in the area.
The Holiday Season Things are looking up this holiday season. I have begun putting together another Northeast tour for the spring and look forward to seeing and playing with friends up there. I have already confirmed two gigs in the Burlington, VT area and one in Boston, MA at the prestigious TW Food. TW might be the best chef in Boston but he also plays some mean guitar at his Sunday Jazz brunch. I’ll be taking over for him when I’m in town so keep your eyes and ears open for details. I have also been writing music for another Brokedown Films feature entitled Roundball. This makes a total of three Brokedown films that feature my original music. Keep and eye out for this one as well. It is an honor to be part of this project!
Summer’s Rap It’s October now. Where did the summer go? Vermont was a blast and the summer ended with a bunch of great gigs here in Austin. There were far too many to mention here, but good times were had with Shane Pitsch and the Smokestack Revue, The Magnificent 7, The Blues Crawlers, and Philip Marshall’s Estuary where we played to a fantastic crowd for the Jazz’SAlive Festival in San Antonio. Jason Marsalis sat in with us (he was headlining the festival with Marcus Roberts) and played drums for several tunes and knocked everyone out when he whistled a solo on his tune “At The House, In Da Pocket!” The Belltower Trio has been busy as well and we are hoping to get into the studio early next year for a follow up to our EP “Blues Explosion.” Keep your eyes and ears open!
5/29 The Belltower Trio will be holding down a steady gig this fall a the Satellite Bistro on the first Saturday of every month. We begin our tenure on Aug 4th so mark your calendars!
5/15 I am looking forward to playing a few gigs in and around Burlington, Vermont this summer. Nectar’s on Tuesday July 17th from 9p to 10p and Bar Antidote (Vergennes, VT) on Saturday July 21st from 9p to midnight. Drumming wizard Jeff Salisbury will be joining me on both dates, so you’re sure to hear some swinging grooves if you can make it. Hope to see you all there!
4/17 I had the opportunity to take part in this great recording. The Lucky So and Sos Featuring The Belltower and Ponder East is a collection of not-so-well-known standards and two of my original tunes. Check it out. Aaron Lack on drums and Terry Bowness on B3.
4/15 Here is a nice review of my EP The Belltower Blues Explosion from one of Austin’s most well respected blues guitarists. Thanks Van!
Very Cool, Lowdown Retro Vibe with smart and tasty licks that “say something”! You have a good ear for picking tunes and players. Nice understated intensity! Van Wilks- Guitarist/ Singer and winner of the Austin Chronicle’s Best Electric Guitarist of 2009