Monkees’ Peter Tork brings blues band to Long Beach festival

Peter Tork, shown last fall during a rehearsal for the Monkees reunion tour, will bring his blues band Shoe Suede Blues to the Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival on Saturday.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

What’s a Monkee doing on the lineup at a blues festival? Singing the blues, of course.

That would be singer, guitarist, bassist and songwriter Peter Tork, who spends much of the time when he’s not involved with latter-day Monkee business playing with his other band, Shoe Suede Blues, which is on the bill for this weekend’s Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival.

“I’m having a great time,” Tork, 69, told Pop & Hiss recently. “The drummer we have, Sturgis Cunningham, has such a lovely shuffle with a slightly modern edge to it -- between an oily Chicago blues shuffle and just a little bit of a more well-bound, slightly hip-hopier feel -- just the right combination. And Joe Boyle, our guitar player, he’ll fry you. That leaves just me saying ‘What am I doing here? You guys are great.’ I guess I’m still just a young hippie-folkie-rocker at heart, learning to play the blues.”

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Tork’s group has just released a new album, “Step By Step,” and he said the band usually includes a few Monkees tunes — recast appropriately. “We do ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ as a blues shuffle,” he said.

Shoe Suede Blues is slated to play Saturday at 7 p.m., part of the multifaceted lineup that includes the Pine Leaf Boys Cajun band, T-Lou & the Red Hot Louisiana Zydeco Band, Bonne Musique Zydeco and Big Jay McNeely.

A few weeks after his Shoe Suede Blues show in Long Beach, the surviving Monkees — guitarist-songwriter Michael Nesmith and drummer-singer Micky Dolenz — will come together again for another round of reunion shows, following last fall’s brief string of dates. The new tour starts July 15 in Port Chester, N.Y., and brings the group back to Southern California in August with stops Aug. 11 in San Diego and Aug. 13 in Long Beach.


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