A force to be reckoned with, Boston's Barrence Whitfield will play one of my favorite music venue/bars in Detroit, PJ's Lager House. Performing the 80s, The Savages took a break, reforming with two of the orginalband members Peter Greenburg and Phil Lenker,Whifield announced that the band will tour The Sonics. But before the band trekked their way to the Motor City, I spoke with Barrence and witnessed a Barrence Whitfield and The Savages performance in Cincinnati, Ohio. Taking a break from recording their latest record, which is due sometime this fall, Barrence schooled me on the current state of rock and roll, Led Zeppelin, and just how he started singing.
Motor City Blog: Where and when did you first begins singing? I watched a radio performance of "I'm Sad About It", my personal favorite song, and you make it seem so effortless.
Barrence Whitfield: It started in my Baptist church in New Jersey at the at seven years old, singing in the choir, I wanted to be like James Brown or Otis Redding. I started performing with local guys on the street and gradually developed. I never took a singing lesson in my life. It was sheer dedication and love.
MCB: Are the women you speak of in your songs, specifically in "I'm Sad About It" and "Sugar" from real life experiences?
BW: I've been married for over 20 years. It's about long lost loves, people being lonely, drinking because they lost their love ones.Our songs are stories. It's sad because his friend was lusting after his girlfriend (in "I'm Sad About It"), and to see that happen before his eyes, it's a shock.
MCB: What do you think of the current state of rock and roll compared to when the band first started?
BW: Is there really any rock and roll today? It's a different generation of music fans. I feel rock and roll is diluted. I don't want to understand what people are grabbing at. It's a little different than it was.
MCB: What're you currently listening to?
BW: When I was your age, I was probably listening to Sam Cooke and Little Richard. It hasn't lost its flavor. Right now, I have Isaac Hayes playing in the background, but I listen to everything. I'm not listening to the latest Taylor Swift album.
Beginning their set with the energetic "Bip Bop Bip", there wasn't a still person in The Woodward in Cincinnati. Dancing during each powerful song,occasionally taking his hat off the wipe the sweat, Barrence and The Savages went in song after song seemingly without flinching. Maybe it was the original savage, Peter Greenburg's power stance, or Tom Quartulli's one man saxophone section that sounded as if there were seven, or announcing before playing "Bloody Mary", that it was their favorite song, or Barrence's declaration, "We've been asked, the band, to do a national tour with a group called The Sonics. I want to announce that the The Sonics and The Savages will be performing right here. Remember that, if some fool didn't already tweet it. This place is gonna look like madness". Good musicians play good music without the crutch of gimmicks or fake stage personalities, and Barrence Whitfield and The Savages is the perfect example.