Living Blues Magazine - " The vivacity and sheer joy with which Cru plays is intoxicating!"
Vinny Marini - Manager - SUBCAT Studios - "Raucous, rowdy, gentle, sweet, eccentric, quirky, and outright irreverent".
Downbeat Magazine - " His songs are blues poetry - crafted with rare verbal flair and his ability to cast a memorable hook is magical ".
So.....who exactly is Tas Cru?? His debut was " Gravi-Tas '' in 2008, and his releases have included two created with children in mind, and he's also penned a three - volume series of books focused on the exploits of Big Dog Budda that introduces kids to the blues. He has picked up a Blues Music Award nomination as a rising star. Tas is the 2014 recipient of The Blues Foundations Keeping The Blues Alive Award (KBA Award) for Education. His blues releases for children have included " Even Bugs Sing The Blues “. Tas performs solo acoustic as well as with a 7-piece backing band. He sings and plays a wide variety of guitars - electric, acoustic, resonator, and cigar box. Tas is a Delaney Guitars (Austin, Texas) endorsed artist.
Tas Cru - aka - Dr. Richard Bates - He was in Vietnam in the Navy and worked his way through to get a PhD in the field of education. He went outside the box to become a bluesman, using what he'd earned as a professor to follow his bliss. Tas spent decades in the classroom before turning to music full-time in his 50's after growing up influenced by Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt.
Critics have declared Tas one of the most unique bluesmen playing out there today. Fans have embraced his extraordinary guitar skills, his versatility, and his irreverent sense of humor. His lyrics are, indeed, blues poetry, slices of life's ups and downs, times when you are facing those crossroads, and you never know where Tas will take you. Tas is a seasoned singer-guitarist - songwriter who refuses to let his music be bound to just one blues style.
Sometimes music comes along that thoroughly surprises you. You are captivated, entranced, excited to hear music this good. You find yourself playing every track more than once, turning up the volume, enjoying every moment, every instrument, listening like a joyful child to the lyrics that are wrapped around every melodic riff. " Riffin' the Blue " - caught me completely by surprise and thrilled me from the first track. It is that good - and so much more! I found myself banging on the steering wheel of my car, singing along, raising the volume, going back and playing tracks over and over again, those unbelievable “riffs " winding and whirling, swirling ear candy to my blues brain.
" Riffin' the Blue " - a solid set of original songs that is born from, and raised up on, its own melodic guitar hook - commonly known as “the RIFF “. " That relentless melody that grabs you by the throat and just won't let go! " - Tas Cru
Solid help from a few friends, most notably Mike Zito (Gulf Coast Records) and award-winning and world-renowned keyboardist Bruce Katz. Mike puts his own unique guitar stamp on the title track and on the closer, “Memphis Gone “. Bruce Katz contributes his world-class talent on piano and organ to ten of the 11 tracks on " Riffin' the Blue “.
Lending their own individual talents to the mix are: Mary Ann Casale, backing vocals; Bob Purdy, bass; Ron Keck, percussion; Andy Hearn, drums; Lenny Milano, drums on the first track; Bill Barry adds organ to the title track; and - Tas Cru- lead vocals and guitar.
To get a snapshot of Tas Cru and his unmistakable lyrical perspective take a listen to a song like " Brown Liquor Woman " - a freeze-frame from the infamous Rum Boogie Bar - inspired by two genteel members of the opposite sex who saw as objectionable, and were appalled by, other women who sipped of those darker devil brews. Brown Liquor Women don't drink champagne and, oftentimes, have other things on their mind. Shocking!
"Stand Up! " Fits into the social commentary mold while " Let It Happen " is another fun slice of life that details the interactions between Tas and his doctor. Seems its' not his diet that is causing his problems. The Doc says that worrying is taking a toll - live life, let life happen, try to relax - and - before Tas leaves the office - Doc hands him a prescription for some whiskey! Where was this Doc when I had my knee surgery?
" Riffin' The Blue " - a guaranteed good time will be had by everyone joining Tas and his bandmates for these dynamic recordings. Solid material, great stories, exceptional musicianship, thoroughly entertaining from first note to the last - a release that will certainly surprise many folks. A must-have!!!
“Tas delivers 100% on stage with his thoughtful selection of material, his ear catching arrangements, his skillful guitar work and vocals, and his tasteful interaction with his audience. Tas was a joy to work with from beginning to end!” - Bonnie Tallman, — Billtown Blues Fest
And let's hear from Tas himself...............
“Some of my biggest lessons come from stuff that wasn’t about math, and it wasn’t about English. It’s all about character. My whole life I’ve had to work harder than most everyone else to get things done, you know what I mean? That’s how I feel about getting on the Blues Blast cover. Why should getting on Blues Blast be any different, you know? Got to work hard at that, too. So, here we are working hard at it. So, anyhow, you gotta love the process, and I guess I love it enough to put up with the hardship and the bullshit. So, I’m still out there doing it.
“Was it Hunter S. Thompson who said, ‘Find something you love, stick with it about 10 years, and give it all your passion and energy. About 10 or 12 years later, you find you’ve an overnight success.”
“Now, the other education I got is I have a master’s degree in English literature. I learned a lot about language from there, and that’s helped me as a songwriter. You know, to be a – you’re a wordsmith, Don. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes as a wordsmith you gotta craft your language. You can’t say the same thing that everybody else has said, and hope that it resonates differently with people. Sometimes, you have to craft that language, and there are certain things you can do to make the word more musically poetic for people.”
Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records didn’t sign him, but he gave him some sage advice:
“Words matter and you gotta put some thought and feeling into that. I drive around and listen to Bluesville all the time, and this is what I say. Unless the song is there to support a great virtuoso guitarist, harmonica player, singer, whatever, and the words don’t matter because I’m not really listening to that. I’m listening to the virtuoso instrumental performances or vocal performances, that’s fine, but it’s not that, the words should mean something. There should be something you connect with, you know, and I do find that lacking unfortunately.”
Taz Crus's Blues in the Schools programs: He says, “To me, there is nothing more important that I do as a blues performer than blues education! Blues is a uniquely American music that along with gospel and jazz is one of America’s most precious gifts to the world. Blues is the musical foundation for all forms of pop music with its influence spanning seven generations.
“Children in schools throughout the globe learn about their culture’s artistic heritage and creative achievements. American children deserve to know about their culture’s rich musical heritage that is the Blues and how the world has embraced it as a creative art form.
” I am blessed to have had so many opportunities to work with young and old across the country as we educate each other about what it is that makes us love the blues.”