“I’m inspired by Nina Simone, Prince and Bill Withers, mostly,” said Benjamin Richard Hall, the commanding lead vocalist of The Further Adventures of FatBoy and JiveTurkey. The band, which performs Friday (March 10) at UrbanBeat in Old Town, first took shape in 2006 in Detroit. But Hall’s love for trailblazing music goes way back.
“I started singing at Everett High School. I had a couple of very inspiring teachers early on,” he recalled. “I started my musical journey with the blues. I played in my first blues band in college. My tastes kept getting deeper and deeper. Whenever I found an artist I loved, I would find out who influenced them and listen to them.”
When he went back to school at Michigan State University, Hall nurtured his passion for old-school music over the local airwaves.
“I hosted the blues show on the Impact for five years,” he said. “I ripped every blues, jazz, Americana and country disc I could get my hands on.”
From there, he never looked back and never stopped digging. His taste for dusty, old records resonates throughout the group’s dynamic live sets, which are stacked with classic blues tunes and exciting, soulful originals.
When asked why his taste leans toward bygone eras, Hall’s response was quick and to the point: “I feel it more,” he said.
“We really do play a wide variety of stuff, but it’s all older,” he added. “We play Beatles B-sides, some Waylon Jennings … spirituals. The band’s mission is to play whatever music we want, although we do play a lot of early blues and jazz.”
Soon after its genesis, The Further Adventures of FatBoy and JiveTurkey became a favorite of the Detroit Blues Society.
“We played quite a few gigs for them,” Hall recalled.
Today, the band has maintained its old soul. Its live sets continue to carry the torch for blues pioneers, but with a scorching, distinctive blast of oomph. It’s a sound that’s been heard at clubs across the state and bigger events like Michigan BluesFest and the East Lansing Art Festival.
“People that come to our shows say that we sound like we should be in New Orleans,” said Hall, who’s also a multi-instrumentalist. “We have a lot of energy. We play fun music.”
While Hall mostly curates the setlists, each seasoned band member is vital to the robust, rootsy sound.
“Everybody brings something,” Hall said. “One of our guitar players studied with one of the foremost hot jazz — also called gypsy jazz — guitarists in the country. That adds to our flavor as well. The sax player and drummer would probably consider themselves jazz musicians. They have some really serious jazz chops.”
The band has yet to release a proper LP, so for now, the only way to hear its catalog of originals and covers in full quality is live on stage.
“We’re working on adding a lot of new songs (to our set), but we don’t have any recordings yet,” Hall said. “But we do have many tunes to stream on YouTube. Who knows, we might even cut an album.”
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