Log in

Big Belly Blues Band

  • Written by Administrator
  • Hits: 2642
  • Print, Email

The Big Belly Blues Band originated from a blues song co-written by songwriter/drummer Paul Tillman Smith and Jazz Diva Faye Carol called the "Big Belly Blues" in Oakland, CA, 2002.

Guys from the local sunday jam session at the Bluesville Jazz Club in Oakland California decided to form a Blues Band to honor bay area icon's ailing pianist Ed Kelly and vocalist George Hubbard. Jam session drummer Smith raised the idea that the band should do a album featuring the many talents of the band because they had all been friends for years and could now share in a special project.

Big Belly Blues Band


The band used the money from the jam sessions to pay for studio costs along with investments from friends. A retired bay area teacher, bassist and trombonist Harley White was brought in to pen horn arrangements along with band trumpeter director Kalill Shaeed of the Oaktown Youth Jazz Workshops. The album features six original songs by Smith along with some well known cover tunes. eorge Hubbard's rendition of the Horace Silver classic "Soul Mates" is a favorite along with the "Big Belly Blues" which features a superb piano solo by Mr. Kelly. Other bay area heavy weights who also performed on the CD  include blues drummer Larry Vann who shared the drumming work with Tillman Smith, Charley Spikes on vocals and guitar, and Ron Belcher on electric bass. Also assistiing on piano with Ed Kelly was the young and budding Kevin Stewart, younger brother of internationally renowned saxophonist Robert Stewart.

The recording also includes Harley White on trombone, tuba and bowed bass, Joe Thornton on Sax, Richard Meyer on conga and harmonica, plus Danny Armstrong on the trombone solos. After a couple of months of rehearsal and recording, a female vocal group called the "Belly Buttons" was formed to sing backgrounds featuring Kate Shaheed, Judith Harris-Coleman,Carla Green, Aletha Archie with a special guest performance by the legendary Freddie Hughes.  A local rapper /newsman and current editor of the Oakland Tribune, Martin Reynolds. joined in on the New Orleans tinged song "Good Thang" adding a unique modern twist to a widely established party idiom.

The Big Belly Blues Band went on to enjoy many, many dates around the Bay Area for about 3 years culminating at the re-opening of the historic "Sweets Ballroom" in downtown Oakland in 2004. The late Ed Kelly and George Hubbard live on in the Big Belly Blues Band!

A historic and original band that preserves East Bay music history. Subsequent members since the recording include: saxophonist Richard Howell and Charles Mc Neal, pianist Glenn Pearson and Michael "Spiderman" Robinson, bassist Tony Sanders, drummer / vocalist Minor Williams, vocalist Kenny Washington, plus many others. Order your copy now at Chump Change.com

Log in or Sign up