By Vanessa Garcia
Eric Garcia (vocals, harmonica), Eric Escanes (guitar), Rodrigo Zambrano (bass), and Ulysees Perez (drums) are Juke, a four-piece contemporary blues band that, according to Garcia, is "not your uncle's blues. It's dirty, it's raw, it's real, and it makes you feel."
Mexico City, Norway, Miami, Costa Rica, Nashville and Mississippi rush through the veins and influences of this eclectic band's culture, heritage and beats. Getting its groove on throughout South Florida at hot spots like Automatic Slims, The Poor House and Bougainvillea's, the band just got signed by Sawgrass Records out of Los Angeles and are working on their new album, In No Mood.
Miami.com: Why blues? Why the harmonica?
Eric Garcia: I started playing harmonica in 1988 when I heard James Cotton play on the Muddy Waters album, Hard Again. I was listening to it and asked my friend, "what the hell is that?," 'cause I never heard the harmonica sound as ballsy as he played it. So I decided I had to learn that thing. I was into playing bass, but pretty much dropped it then. I only took one [harmonica] lesson it was from a local Miami blues legend, the late Fleet Starbuck. He told me what I needed to know and I went from there.
Tell me about the best song you've ever written.
We're recording our first album at the end of this month, and the song is about my mother and her Alzheimer's. I don't know of too many blues songs about that. My mother got diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago. I'm an only child and very close with my mother and father, so I moved back [from California] to Miami immediately.
How is your blues different from other blues?
My whole problem with a lot of blues music is the lyrics. Not the lyrics of the the original blues, from the greats, 'cause that was what they were living. But there are guys now playin' "blues" music singing about trains and working all day in the fields and sayin' "my baby done left me." What the hell is that? A lot of my songs are inspired by heartbreak, but I am not an old black man who works in the field all day and waits at the train station for his woman who doesn't show up. I think modern blues should be a little deeper, darker and more complex. People think a lot of blues is basic and silly, but it doesn't have to be. We try to make it way raw and revealing. It can be powerful music again.
Juke's Eric Garcia works the harmonica like no one's business.