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Q&A: Randy Oxford Band discusses tour, Memphis and Night After Christmas show

Randy Oxford Band to premiere new CD at Jazzbones

Trombonist Randy Oxford and band receive photographer Dan Hill's trademark artistic touch. Photo credit: Dan Hill

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Look out Memphis - you are about to get a taste of Tacoma, and it's gonna be sweet!

Longtime rhythm and blues sensation Randy Oxford Band hits the infamous Midwest Blues Highway to kick off 2014 with one really important stop along the way. The band will represent Tacoma at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in January. It's the largest gathering of blues bands in the world and a big deal: bands had to compete locally and regionally to get the honor. Expecting more than 300 acts from around the world, IBC is five days of bluesy goodness. Add in the launch of the band's highly lauded and buzzworthy new CD, ... it feels good, and it's extra bluesy special.

So, when not posing for national magazine covers and winning more awards, the Randy Oxford Band is jamming right here at home, including at its annual Night After Christmas show at Jazzbones. I caught up with trombonist Oxford before his show Friday.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: So, when I read your bio, I saw the reference to the song, "76 Trombones." Wow! Brought back childhood memories of singing and marching to that song!  Ever play a rendition now and again?

RANDY OXFORD: No, I have not done that song recently, but now you've got me thinking that maybe I should incorporate that into my band's show sometime. Not many modern-day bands could pull that song off; but since I am the bandleader and I play trombone, then hey, why not? 

VOLCANO: Tell me about your long and ongoing relationship with the trombone. Why that instrument? Why is it special to you?

OXFORD: I started playing trombone in the sixth-grade in the Chicago area, and because the school band programs were so strong at that time, I was inspired to stay with it. Playing trombone was rare, so it opened a lot of doors for me in the music world that may have not been there if I played a more popular instrument like the saxophone. After being classically trained and then playing a lot of big band jazz in the U.S. Army Band overseas, I eventually figured out a way to incorporate the trombone into blues and rock bands, and eventually I ended up leading my own band.

VOLCANO: Congratulations on the new CD, the upcoming Midwest tour and representing Tacoma at the IBC in Memphis. Sounds like quite a whirlwind of activity. Tell me about your plans.

OXFORD: Thank you. Gary Grape, president of the South Sound Blues Association and the entire SSBA membership has been very supportive over the years in getting bands down there. My band has been to the IBC three times before, and we had great success. It is a networking mecca with great opportunities to be seen and heard by music industry contacts that you need in order to keep your band touring. My band has toured the U.S., Canada and Central America due in part to past connections that we made at the IBC. This time around, we just happen to have a new CD coming out at the same time as the IBC.

VOLCANO: You're releasing your CD at your annual Night After Christmas show Friday at Jazzbones. What does the band have planned?

OXFORD: Jazzbones is a great place to have a hometown CD release party. I have a long history at Jazzbones, dating back to when it first opened. My own band has been playing at Jazzbones on a regular basis for the past 10 years. This will be my seventh CD release party at Jazzbones. This Friday promises to be a real fun night. My friend Nolan Garrett and his band are going to perform as well, so everybody who arrives before 8 p.m. will get to see both my band and Nolan's band. Although our official national CD release date is Jan. 15 in Kansas City, we will have a limited quantity of advanced copies exclusively for our hometown friends to purchase at this show. It's a nice early show that starts at 8 p.m. and will be over by 10:30 p.m. We highly recommend calling ahead for reservations. Tables are going fast.

VOLCANO: You live in the South Sound. Tell me your thoughts on the Tacoma music scene.

OXFORD: I love living in the South Sound. Tacoma has a vibrant, diverse music scene and you can find jam sessions to play at or go out to see just about any kind of live music seven nights a week. People in Tacoma seem to be more knowledgeable about music in general than in other large cities. When they come out, they are there to really listen. You don't see many people checking their cell phones like you do in other places. Tacoma has a strong live music scene and seems to be holding steady. 

VOLCANO: What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

OXFORD: Starting out the year on the road touring with a new CD on the way to the IBC can only lead to new and exciting things. We may be returning to the East Coast again shortly after our Midwest tour, and I am talking with some festivals in Canada about some tours up there as well.

VOLCANO: Any special New Year's Eve plans?

OXFORD: This New Year's Eve my band will be performing at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, so we are relatively close to home, which is nice. Then we hit the road.

RANDY OXFORD BAND'S NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS SHOW, w/Nolan Garrett, 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, $9.99, 253.396.9169

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