Rick Rykart, the former lead singer, frontman, and songwriter for The James Boys, has stepped out of that role to embark on a solo career with Helena Records. However, even in doing so he proclaims “I still wouldn’t make a record without all my various outlaw friends—there’s no one better than them, not just on the stage but in the studio as well.” Hence, Rykart’s first effort for Helena, “Lust and Love” is tagged as being by “Rykart & The James Boys”, giving credit to the great Nashville team he’s been working with on the previous two releases carried by this label. But however he wants to bill himself, Helena is happy to have the multi-talented Rykart. Not only is he a song factory, a true tunesmith, writing great melodies with strong lyrical content, but his knack for creating high impact, interpretive cover versions of other artists’ material makes him a very special creator and live performer.
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, the singer began his music career as a drummer in local groups, but little by little came forward towards center stage. In actual fact a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, and keyboards, Rykart next moved professionally to bass and found himself in demand, among the local groups of the day in St Louis. He was a bassist who could also sing harmonies with precision, and cut loose with leads on material that very few singers could handle. During that period he was also writing songs all the while, and making sojourns to Nashville, TN. He’d create demos of his material, befriending manys the Nashville artist and players of renown, and learning the art and science of recording music. Pitching the demos to the powers that be, ironically, he was signed outside of Nashville, as an artist and writer by Los Angeles music entity, La Cienega Music, whose claim to fame was that they owned publishing rights to Blues icon John Lee Hooker. Giving up his slot in the St Louis music scene and heading for California, Rykart ultimately cut two albums for La Cienega—one consisting of his own songs, and a startling album of Hooker covers, startling in that every one of the songs received his powerful brand of unique interpretation, a talent he attributes to his years of being in local bands performing everyone else’s material and not his own. “I always looked to put my own stamp on the classic songs”, the singer would say years later, “I was never interested in simply impersonating what the singer on the original record had done.” Though the two La Cienega albums never found commercial success, that period saw Rykart begin fronting his own groups. His on stage instrument of choice became mainly the guitar, though he’ll play the occasional tune on piano and bass. Upon the expiration of his contract Rick was scooped up by Helena, and here we are. Rykart has brought the excitement and fun of his “Rykart Rock Reunion” live show to North America, Latin America and Europe and looks forward to entertaining audiences in Asia in the near future too, as Helena Records is now distributed throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim. And we all look forward to more great songs from the prolific pen of Rick Rykart, and more unique covers as two more albums are currently in production…
THE JAMES BOYS
From the moment The James Boys appeared on the world scene with the release of their historic duet with iconic Rock Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson their music has traveled far and wide. Offering an electric, eclectic blend of musical styles reflective of their wide roots and live performances TJB is always a dynamic experience. From a basis in “Roots Rock”, as they call it, to PopRock, BluesRock, R&B/Blues, Country, even Reggae and Jazz influences, you’ll find that the The James Boys maintain a common denominator throughout their music: a passionate and often humorous take on life manifesting in rhythmic grooves, “hookish” lyrics attractive and melodies throughout.
Look for the Helena Records release :
“The James Boys—A Really Good Rocker” available at iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, and every other major digital music purveyor worldwide—where you can also find the historic duet :
“The James Boys and Johnnie Johnson” with the late piano icon and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer…
In April 2005 this world suffered the loss of a shining light in popular music as the great Johnnie Johnson passed on…
One of the pioneers, in fact a founding father, of “Rock and Roll” (the term was coined for Chuck Berry’s music) and member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Johnson had no peer as a blazing, scintillating, monster of the piano. His trailblazing work as Chuck Berry’s piano player, (after Chuck had become Johnnie’s guitar player by a stroke of fate on New Years Eve 1953) showed the way for all those who followed—indeed the sound the Berry recordings created is arguably the “Big Bang” of rock music that defined the genre to begin with. For that reason as well as the worldwide live shows Johnnie performed (which continued until the very end of his life) he was enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. All of that said, however, there remains an interesting fact regarding the man’s legacy: Blues and Jazz were what he focused on originally in his career before he and Berry joined forces, and he would return to those roots in his post Berry career—rarely performing the Rock genre that helped make him famous—and rarely recording it. There would only be an occasional live Rock performance with Berry or with Johnson pals Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, such as in the live concerts that were documented in the 1987 film “Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll”. And even though he made a multitude of stops in the recording studio playing Blues and Jazz for his own records and others, there would only be a rare stint playing songs which had a related flavor of the classic Rock and Roll style that he had pioneered in the 1950’s and 60’s. Those few tracks are all that is left to the world of the Johnson Rock legacy. One of the most powerful and captivating of those tracks can be found on Helena Records, as Johnnie teamed up with Helena artist Rick Rykart, at the time the frontman and lead singer/songwriter of The James Boys, for a final burst of Rock energy like only the great Johnnie could deliver, in an homage to the style he and Berry had made uber famous around the world. That track is the very aptly named “A Dose of Rock & Roll”. A beautiful vehicle for Johnnie to illustrate the power, and the ease, with which he could still deliver that famous boogie style of “rockin pi-a-no”, all the way to his later days of life.