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'Boogaloo' Bolden's New Blues Album Crosses Borders

'Boogaloo' Bolden's New Blues Album Crosses Bordersi
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February 18, 2014
For more than 30 years, trumpet player James “Boogaloo” Bolden has been working with famed blues singer and guitarist BB King. But when Bolden is not on the road with the “King of Blues” he is in his hometown of Houston, Texas, to play with his own band that is now featuring some blues by way of Mexico. VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston.
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Greg Flakus
— For more than 30 years, trumpet player James “Boogaloo” Bolden has been working with famed blues singer and guitarist BB King.  But when Bolden is not on the road with the “King of Blues” he is in his hometown of Houston, Texas, to play with his own band that is now featuring some blues by way of Mexico. 

James “Boogaloo” Bolden has played with everyone from Duke Ellington to Lightnin' Hopkins, but he says he has learned the most from BB King.

“He is the kind of teacher who shows you without actually saying this is what you should do," said Bolden.

BB King is now 88-years-old and still touring.  But Bolden uses whatever time off he has to play with his own band.

It helps having his new CD played on radio programs like “Howlin' the Blues,” hosted by James Nagel at Houston's KPFT FM.

“I have the real pleasure of introducing this next one: The James Boogaloo Bolden Blues Band - 'No News, Jus' The Blues,'" said Nagel. “No telling where this is going to go.  I hope it goes great places.  As we all know, BB [King] is getting up in age and James has put this band together, I guess, to prepare for the inevitable, you know, realistically.”

In a band brimming with talent, one standout is saxophone player and singer Evelyn Rubio, a native of Mexico City who has a passion for the blues.

She came to Bolden's recording session with a suggestion.

“She came into the studio, we were almost near the end of the session, and she said, 'I have another song I'd like to do.' And I said, 'Okay.' She had a little tape of it and we listened to it," said Bolden.

The song - Border Town - was written by a friend of Rubio's from the Mexican border city of Tijuana - but her sultry delivery makes it her own.  

“I have been traveling around playing the blues, trying to survive, so I really feel it, it is part of me," said Rubio.

She also recorded a Spanish version of the song for the CD, and hopes blues music will become more popular in Mexico and elsewhere.

“I respect the story of black people and how blues came up.  But let me tell you: me, as a Mexican person, it does not matter what race or color or whatever; everybody has blues stories in their life," she said.

James Bolden is happy to see this music spread internationally.

“I think it is a great thing, because the more people that play the blues, it will keep it alive," he said.

James Bolden is back out on tour with BB King now and Evelyn Rubio is preparing her own solo CD, with songs in English and Spanish, for release later this year.

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