Blue Wednesday: Lauren Mitchell
April 19, 2017 · Wednesday * 8pm * $8
The year 2016 was one of large-scale and unexpected change for Tampa Bay area blues and soul vocalist Lauren Mitchell. During a tumultuous time in both her personal and professional life, she was given the opportunity to rise from the challenges she was facing and make the album of her career with producer Tony Braunagel. Mitchell took the leap of faith because she is a true student of the blues, a music that’s all about finding a way to transform difficult experiences into something cathartic. The timing was perfect. She had an album to record.
That album, “Desire,” is her most fully realized musical statement to date. Through a bold mix of her own original material, songs she hand-picked from the repertoires of her friends, and select covers of tunes first performed by Etta James, Bettye Lavette, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Betty Davis, Mitchell tells a blues story that’s been a lifetime in the making. It’s a stylistically varied set of 13 songs expertly recorded by drummer and Grammy-winning producer Tony Braunagel, whose work with Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Robert Cray have made him one of today’s most in-demand blues industry professionals.
Recorded during a ten-day trip to Los Angeles, Braunagel brought out the best in Mitchell, highlighting every nuance in her powerful vocals and helping her craft an emotionally resonant album that’s destined to go down as one of the year’s highlights. Besides Braunagel, the band features guitarists Johnny Lee Schell and Josh Sklair, keyboardist Jim Pugh, bassist Reggie McBride, sax player Joe Sublett, trumpet player Darrell Leonard, and percussionist Lenny Castro. “The blues is a song of victory,” Mitchell says. “It’s a way to say, ‘I’m over it,’ and now I’m turning it into this beautiful thing that can help someone else heal. That’s what this record is for me.”