May 28, 2015
By Jim Drake Hood River News
One would think leading a 9-piece original soul and blues outfit would constitute a full time job, but Ken DeRouchie honestly says he has no ‘delusions of grandeur’ regarding his band that’s been working hard for 19 years.
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“I wish I could say it was my full time job, but having a nine-piece band like this without record company support is difficult to maintain on that level. But I will say that with our new album, “Muse,” people are paying attention and we’re getting some great gigs in the Northwest,” DeRouchie recently said in a phone interview from Portland.
Praising the level of musicianship in his band was easy for DeRouchie, because he gets to collaborate with some of Portland’s finest singers and players, including singers LaRonda Steele, and Arietta Ward (daughter of blues singer Janice Scroggins). Complete with a horn section, the Ken DeRouchie Band is set to play the River City Saloon on Saturday, May 30.
“It’s a Portland all-star band, for sure, there’s multiple Muddy Award winners in the band, it’s an extreme pleasure to play with this group of people,” DeRouchie said.
DeRouchie said that this show will be a bit of a homecoming for him because he remembers the “rough shape” the venue used to be in.
“I’ve seen that venue change and grow, and morph over the years, because I’ve played there on and off for 20 years. In 1993, it was pretty rough, really. There was one bare light bulb over the stage, where the pool table is now,” DeRouchie said.
DeRouchie said he also has ties in the Gorge with local musician Tracy Klas, who will be bringing her band to open the show.
“I got introduced to Tracy way back, through the Dan Reed Network, a big Portland blues band in the 80s. Dan knew Tracy, and he had a record company that my band signed up to. Anyway, I had Tracy come in and sing on our record, and I’m so glad that she’ll be opening our show. It’s been a long time since I worked with her,” DeRouchie said.
“Muse,” the band’s fourth album, has been released on “every digital platform” available, according to DeRouchie. He said that his music gets downloaded thousands of times per month, but it’s not translating to thousands of dollars.
“Spotify is one example, I mean I get a penny a play, so it’s only a few bucks a month. What’s important to us is the music is really getting out there due to all of these platforms,” DeRouchie said. “The album has been getting airplay in 17 different countries — the record really took off and it’s made us busier than ever,” DeRouchie said.
When asked about musical influences, DeRouchie said that with so many members in the band the list would be too long to list. But his personal tendencies leaned toward bands that bridged jazz and rock.
“Steely Dan was my huge influence. The artists that really interest me are ones like Prince and Lenny Kravitz. There’s a huge soul and a deep groove influence in that music. There’s also an eclectic band called Galactic that I’m really into,” DeRouchie said.
DeRouchie credits his family, namely his older brother, for getting him started in music. “I think I’ve been trying to play music since I was about three years old,” DeRouchie laughs. A series of drumsets and guitars through the years paved the way for his lead singing and rhythm guitar playing role today.
“I was hired as a drummer and toured with a band in 1985, days after my 20th birthday. I’ve signed with three different labels and toured all over the U.S. Music has been in my life longer than anything else in my life. It’s what drives me on a day to day basis,” DeRouchie said.