‘World Famous’ Duke Tumatoe at Big Cities

Veteran blues artist brings his usual bag of tricks to Big Cities Thursday, May 25

Veteran blues artist Duke Tumatoe and his band, The Power Trio, will perform at Big Cities Lounge Thursday, May 25.

A staple on the American blues scene, Tumatoe will return with his usual bag of tricks, which includes witty lyrics, crowd-pleasing wisecracks and true-to-form blues.

Also a comedy and skit writer in the Indianapolis area, Tumatoe is a regular guest on the Bob and Tom radio show. His appearances with Bob and Tom usually include on-the-fly bits of original music such as “My Baby’s A Nudist,” and songs written about several NFL teams, mainly the Indianapolis Colts.

Humor, however, is only a part of what Tumatoe is known for. Since going solo after leaving REO Speedwagon in 1969, Duke often refers to himself during shows as “The World Famous Dr. Duke Tumatoe.”

To some, Tumatoe may seem a bit full of himself. However, the self-given moniker seems to fit Tumatoe perfectly, as his musical talent is as brilliant as his comedic genius, which he blends together well in songs such as “It’s Christmas (Let’s Have Sex)” and “If I Hadn’t Been High.”

According to Tumatoe, who plays more than 200 shows a year, he’s not all about humor.

Tumatoe said: “There’s a great deal of music ability in the band. They focus on the music just as much as the twists in the lyrical content.”

Tumatoe is backed by James Mitchell Hill (piano, organ, vocals), Mark Christopher Rohrman (bass, background vocals) and drummer Toby Seiler, who keeps everything in time and almost always answers to crowd chants of “Toby! Toby! Toby!” with a powerful solo.

Nino Gardona, owner of Big Cities Lounge, said Duke Tumatoe has been very kind to him since first performing there five years ago.

Gardona said: “Duke comes to Rockford about three times a year and, as far as I know, only plays here at Big Cities, aside from when he did Waterfront with REO. Even that night, he did a second show here. Those who haven’t seen him are in for a great show.”

Gardona also said that he’s very fortunate to be able to bring nationally-known musicians to Rockford for such a fair price, speaking of the $5 cover charge to see Tumatoe play.

“For only $5, you can see a show that at other venues would cost you four or five times that amount at least,” Gardona said.

Aside from his thrilling live performances, Duke Tumatoe has several albums to his credit, including his latest, a re-issue of his 1996 greatest hits release that includes “Barefootin’,” “Tie You Up!” and “Get Loose.” Other Duke Tumatoe CDs can be purchased at www.duketumatoe.com.

Big Cities Lounge is at 905 E. State St. in Rockford. The show starts at 9 p.m. More information about Big Cities can be found on the Web at www.bigcitieslounge.com or by calling the club at 965-6026.

From the May 17-23, 2006, issue

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