Home Blues Bruce Madden expands the raw blues vibe with ‘Trouble Times’

Bruce Madden expands the raw blues vibe with ‘Trouble Times’


The Grand Rapids harpist and singer’s latest album was featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks from Billy Strings, Josh Rose, Jair, 84 Tigers, Nathan Walton and more.

Early education in rock and R&B: Bruce Madden (Photo/Gina Grover)


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Bruce Madden readily admits that “the music bug goes way back in both sides of the family”.

Born in Arkansas, Madden was surrounded by music, with a trumpeter father, swing-loving mother, pianist grandfathers, and various parents who played drums, trombone, and other instruments.

“Rock ‘n’ roll was busy being born,” says Madden, now 68, “but my older brother Albie loved rhythm and blues, so I got some early training on a variety of music. early rock and R&B artists.”

For Madden – who took up harmonica and guitar – the “raw” sound of these star performers continues to inspire him, a sonic quality that propels his latest studio album, “Trouble Times”, recorded at the Goon Grand Rapids Fully Analog Lagoon.

He cites the likes of Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Ornette Coleman, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and Jimi Hendrix as influences, a mix of styles that surfaced at various points in his career. own life. music.

Exploring new territory: Madden and his bandmates. (Photo/Gina Grover)

His experience of many travelers also played a part, growing up in the South, attending school in Virginia and Massachusetts, and settling in France for a few years before finally settling in Michigan where he played with the Jimmie Stagger Group and trained The T Bones in the late 1980s.

In addition to releasing a studio album, this band – featuring guitarist Chris Baird, drummer Scott Brightup and bassist Fitz Green – has opened for tours such as BB King, Robin Trower, Johnny Winter and Dave Alvin.

Madden would go on to release solo albums, including 2020’s “Through the Amp” featuring older blues covers that garnered national attention among blues enthusiasts.

For his latest recording, Madden was joined at Goon Lagoon by Brightup and bassist Dale Dryer, Madden providing vocals, harmonica, Claviola, Hammond organ and “feedback guitar”. Saxophonist Lafayette Gunter, penny whistle player Emily Green, trombonist Ryan Limbeck and guitarist/organist Dick Chiclet enriched several tracks.

Madden says “turning it down was paramount”, with parts of the new album giving off “almost a T-Bones feel”, while others have a “more indie-rock” flavor. This week’s edition of Local tours on WYCE featured the title track and “Trap Time”. Scroll down to listen to the radio show’s songs and full podcast.


“There’s not really a theme, although the title of the album, ‘Trouble Times’, seems to reflect a period that we are all going to have to face here in the United States, but really, around the world”, Madden says.

“The new songs are also very lyrically driven. I’m definitely a “power of the word” type rather than “power of the sword”.

The new album

Madden wrote 15 songs for the new album, which was released in late October, and he’s already working on the next batch. He notes that he’s been “a little shy” about live performances since the COVID pandemic.

“We’ve all suffered from this virus, but the creatives have really felt the brunt of it,” he says. “A lot of musicians tell me that the music world has changed – changed in a negative way for many. So, looking to the future, I’m writing songs for the next album.

In addition to highlighting new music from Madden, this week’s edition of Local tours on WYCE — which focuses on local and regional music at 11 a.m. on Fridays WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – presented new tracks from Billy strings (with Terry Barber), Nathan Walton & The Remedy, The Good Old Days, Josh Rose, Jair, Grace Theisen, The B-Sides, Ficus, 84 Tigers, Cole Hansen, The Accidentals with Kaboom Collective and Djangophonic. Listen to the full radio show here.

PODCAST: Local tours on WYCE (04/11/22)

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