Dr. Duke Tumatoe
You may know him from his regular gig on the nationally syndicated "Bob and Tom" radio program. You may remember him as the leader of the All-Star Frogs (1970-1983) and the Power Trio (1983-present), doing humorous and raunchy blues originals such as "Tie You Up!" and "More Love, More Money". You also may remember the Tumatoe tours of local clubs and endless spins of his songs on college radio in the '70s and '80s. You may not know that he recorded for Warner Brothers Records (I Like My Job, produced by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame), was a member of REO Speedwagon, and he grew up on the South Side of Chicago, a blues-loving youth who hung with the legends.
Now he's still at it, playing over 200 shows and covering over 60,000 miles annually. And he's reunited with his old pals at Blind Pig Records, celebrating the release of "You've Got the Problem!" As always, the Power Trio's instrumental prowess is the perfect backdrop for Duke's outrageous humor. The title track tells the story of a poor, misunderstood fellow's struggles with his partner ("I don't drink too much, baby - You don't drink enough!"). From there, Duke delivers nonstop musical mayhem that truly evokes the excitement of his legendary live performances. Highlights include the title track, the whimsical "My Baby Is a Nudist", the unhappy tale of a man who's attached to a "Real Mean Woman," which also features some blistering slide guitar and the hangover-inspired "Moanin' After Blues" (includes actual moaning).
After Duke left REO Speedwagon in 1969, he formed Duke Tumatoe & the All-Star Frogs. For the next 13 years, they toured relentlessly playing throughout the Midwest on countless college campuses and bars. Because of this grueling tour schedule, the band managed to release only three albums, Red Pepper Hot (1976), Naughty Child (1980) and Back to Chicago (1982). In 1983, Tumatoe decided to slow down the pace and break up the Frogs. He immediately rebounded with the creation of the Power Trio and recorded Duke's Up (1984). Over the next several years, Tumatoe released four discs on his own Sweetfinger Music label, Dr. Duke (1992), Wild Animals (1994), Greatest Hits Plus (1996), and the all-instrumental Picks & Sticks (1997). Throughout his illustrious career, Tumatoe opened for several legendary figures in blues and rock including Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, George Thorogood, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Doobie Brothers and John Fogerty. Fogerty was so taken with Tumatoe's performance, he produced the critically acclaimed 1988 live album I Like My Job on Warner Bros. In 1999, Tumatoe signed with J-Bird Records where he released A Ejukatid Man that same year. In 2001, Tumatoe had tongue firmly in cheek with the releases Pompous & Overrated and the raunchy seasonal disc It's Christmas (Let's Have Sex).
Tumatoe promises "A good time, a little mischief, and a lot of great music." And yet Duke's fans know he's not all about the joke. "There's a great deal of musical ability in the band," Tumatoe said. They focus on the music, "just as much as on the twists in the lyrical content." Tumatoe learned drums at 10, moved to guitar as a teen, and became active playing in the Chicago area in the '60s. He grew up on the South Side, in the exact time and space of the golden era of electric blues. He knew, and played with the greats, and now can't believe that he took that for granted as a kid. "Those guys were kinda like available, just as a natural course of daily activity. ... You never thought it was such an earth-shaking experience to have grown up in the crux of all that but it really, really was." Tumatoe knew all the "old guys," he said, ran into them every day. "Played with a lot of them," Tumatoe said. "Muddy (Waters), Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and J.B. Hutto to name a few. Having grown up in that city, you just experienced that stuff."
Duke's fans consider him one of music's best-kept secrets and they selfishly admit they want to keep it that way. They know his show will be one of those sweaty, anything can happen things and they look forward to the freely dispensed and practical advice from the Doctor ("When you're in a basement you should drink whiskey"). And when the show's over, the next best thing is a dose of" You've Got the Problem!"
(Includes adapted material by Mark Wedel, The Kalamazoo Gazette; Jamie Cook, State News MS&U; and Al Campbell, All Music Guide)