Twenty minutes with Blue Lou Marini is better than buying a book.
The original saxophone player with The Original Blues Brothers Band, Marini was there at the beginning, when Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi created something special, back in the late 1970s.
And he’s still there, along with another original – Steve Cropper. Not only playing the same set of classic blues songs but covering new ground. The Original Blues Brothers Band put out a new album late in 2017, The Last Shade of Blue Before Black.
The band is heading to Bluesfest in Byron Bay at Easter.
In a short interview last week, as Marini sat in his New York City apartment acknowledging that winter had finally arrived, with cold temperatures and snow, he walked me through a bit of history as he recalled it.
“It still astonishes all of us that we are still playing,” he says. “It’s a delight, and we don’t take it lightly. It all happened in such a kaleidoscopic way. Dan and John played in warm-up numbers with the band before the show [Saturday Night Live]. It finally got a skit, and the audience loved it. We went on summer vacation from the show and they we got a call to be opening act for Steve Martin for 10 days at Universal Amphitheatre.
“In rehearsal, the horns didnt play until third night … we were listening, checking out charts … We were rehearsing downtown in the Village. There were lots of hangers on, a couple of Rolling Stones one night, about third night of rehearsal, we looked at each other, looked at response of listeners and thought, ‘this sounds pretty good’.
“At the amphitheatre people were going crazy. Backstage was like Hollywood – Meryl Streep, Danny Devito. Jack Nicholson was in the first row, first seat and we opened with B Movie Boxcar Blues. He lifted up his sunglasses and went ‘wow’.”
Of course, outside of the Blues Brothers Marini has been in-demand for decades. Last year he was featured sax player in James Taylor’s band, which played at Hope Estate. His list of music credits is a who’s who of music – Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Meatloaf, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, Neil Sadaka, Carly Simon, BB King, Levon Helm to name a few.
“I’m still healthy,” says the 72-year-old. “If your habits don’t lead you astray and you’re reasonably presentable and every once in a while you practice, you’re a good chance of surviving.”
He’s keen to jam with legend Robert Louis Walker at Bluesfest, who the band has played with previously.
Byron Bay Bluesfest is March 29-April 2.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.