Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: NRBQ

(Photo: Courtesy of Kyoko Izumi)
(Photo: Courtesy of Kyoko Izumi)

NRBQ, the rock band that’s celebrating 50 years since its founding in 1966, is known for its tendency to include antics in its already rollicking stage show. Some of the highlights include performing in their pajamas and exploding Cabbage Patch Dolls on stage.

Terry Adams, the founder of the group, and his band are back on the road, this time promoting the release of High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective, and Adams isn’t making an promises for what they will or won’t do – besides have a ton of fun.

“We’re happiest when the unknown happens,” Adams said. “You don’t want to be too planned out in rock n’ roll, I think. I’m different than the idea of choreography and lights at a certain time. I think that’s not the way to go with this music.”

NRBQ is playing The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club tonight and Adams said that the Washington, D.C. region has a different kind of audience than rest of the country.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do because we never like to plan things ahead,” he said. “That are always has a different kind of crowd than the rest of the country, so I always look forward to coming around to Bethesda and Washington, D.C. [Our live stage show] just plays itself out.”

The group has a deep catalog to choose from, though, as evidenced by High Noon, the five-CD set that they released on November 11 with Omnivore Recordings. According to Adams, there was a research committee that went through NRBQ’s 32-album catalog (when counting just live and original studio albums) and suggested songs to Omnivore for the compilation.

“It was just meant to be a fun record and to be able to play it, it feels good,” Adams said. “It’s not representing anybody’s idea of [the band] like a greatest hits or anything. It’s just moving with the spirit.”

The retrospective includes previously unreleased songs, in addition to the group’s hits, rarities and concert favorites. Adams talked to the News-Press about some of his favorite unreleased tracks that got included on High Noon.

“There’s a version of a rhythm and blues tune called ‘Honey Hush.’ It has a feel to it that, I don’t know why, but it’s my favorite rhythm and blues feel and we have a version of that on there,” he said. “Probably the first time we ever did it goes back to a club called the Bottom Line in New York City. I know that they had just opened and there’s a live version of that song that always makes me happy, so I’m glad that tape showed up and survived.

“Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but I’ve always been crazy about that feel. I don’t know if you know Joe Turner, [but it’s] the feel of that music.”

He said that there’s also a live version of the song “Paris” by Moondog from 1999 that’s included on High Noon that he really likes. “A musician called T-Bone Wolk…he got on stage and played the accordion on that track,” Adams said. “Man, that was just a lot of fun.”

In addition to this latest release, NRBQ is working on an album of originals that they are going to put out next year. The trio of musicians that Adams has been teamed up with of late, Scott Ligon, John Perrin and Casey McDonough, are all from Chicago. That crew has been bringing their own flavor to NRBQ and will continue to do so on this upcoming release.

“I’m originally from Louisville and I remember getting up there as a teenager and there’s a good scene there. Chicago is a pretty happening town and these guys are the best musicians I’ve ever known,” Adams said. “They not only can play the music, but understand it and feel it and can bring it across. They brought in a lot of their own stuff….We’ve already got it started…and it’s not going to be like anything else we’ve ever done.”

• For more information about NRBQ, visit nrbq.com.