It’s one thing to claim you are “proven,” it’s quite another to have the credentials to back it up. Comprised of four of the most formidable musicians on the blues scene today — guitarist Kid Ramos, vocalist Brian Templeton, bassist Willie J. Campbell and drummer Jimi Bott — the band has collectively amassed a slew of accomplishments; dozens of awards won, decades of years playing top-notch music, hundreds of recordings, thousands of hours on the road, and millions of fans worldwide! These four musicians have proven their worth to the world over decades of hard work.
The Proven Ones’ latest album, You Ain’t Done, expands the blues-rock template initially established with their debut effort, Wild Again. The latter garnered a 2019 Blues Music Award Nomination from the Blues Foundation for Best Contemporary Blues Recording and also brought Campbell and Bott individual nominations as well.
The album finds the band expanding their musical limits and making an even bolder statement. Produced, mixed, and engineered by Bott, and coproduced by the equally legendary Mike Zito, it was recorded at Dockside Studio in Maurice, LA (with additional recording at Roseleaf Recording in Portland, OR and Rear Window in Brookline, MA) and features songwriting contributions from each musician in the band.
“We wanted to stretch the boundaries for this record,” Templeton explains. “For the most part we are all known as blues musicians, and rightly so, but we love many styles and naturally want to indulge in them as well. I think we’ve accomplished that with this record. There’s rock, soul, country, some Latin influence, a bit of pop, and, dare I say a punk vibe in parts as well. I believe it’s going to break down a few walls.”
That’s evident at the outset, the album starts with a needle drop and a psychedelic preamble to the rockin’ and robust song “Get Love.” The assertive stomp of “Gone To Stay,” “Already Gone,” and “You Ain’t Done” follow suit, with the latter recalling the rock steady groove of bands like Free and Bad Company. There are other, subtler, touches gracing the album as well: the heart-warming “Whom My Soul Loves,” which features a searing lead vocal from special guest Ruthie Foster, and the emphatic yet embracing ballad “Milinda.”
Still, the most touching tune on the album, and the one that resonates in particular with its songwriter, Jimi Bott, is “She’ll Never Know.” Based on a poem written by his sister to her infant daughter, it reflects a very personal perspective.
“When my sister died from substance abuse and mental illness in 2008, she and my niece had not spoken in years; they were estranged, and their rocky relationship was never resolved. The chorus I wrote was my hope of what my sister may have been feeling as she watched from the sidelines while her daughter grew up and became extremely successful. The song captures the melancholy that she was never able to share in or be a part of her daughter’s life. It is, for me, about a mother's love and regret but it can be about so many things to any parent who has been separated from their child for whatever reason.”
Members of TPO hail from bands such as The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Radio Kings, The Mannish Boys, and Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. The Proven Ones can claim credits on literally hundreds of recordings. They have shared the spotlight with innumerable world class musicians at major music venues across the globe. Together, they make for a potent force all their own. Vivascene declared, “The familiarity between these musicians breeds a feeling of comfortability and a palpable camaraderie… that enhances each and every note they play.” Individually, their respective resumes place them in the upper echelon of contemporary blues players.
Kid Ramos is a recipient of The Orange County (CA) Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in addition to 14 Blues Music Award nominations. He produced legendary pianist Floyd Dixon’s final recording as well as the accompanying documentary and has also appeared on numerous movie soundtracks.
Brian Templeton commands over 40 years as a stalwart presence as part of Boston’s formidable music scene. His credits include the legendary band the Radio Kings and the Original House of Blues Blue Monday Band, as well as collaborations with such notables as Jerry Portnoy, Sonny Rhodes, James Cotton, and Otis Grand.
Willie J. Campbell has performed with an all-star list of bands and individuals, among them The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Mannish Boys and has recorded with such luminaries as Sugaray Rayford, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, and Cheech and Chong. He has been nominated by the Blues Foundation for Best Instrumentalist 6 times.
Jimi Bott is widely known as one of the world’s best drummers. He has been nominated by the Blues Foundation for Best Instrumentalist an amazing 20 times - finally winning the Blues Music Award in 2015. He was also inducted into the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame in 2009 after winning the award for 12 consecutive years. The award is now named after him. He has been on over 100 recordings, lives in Portland, OR where he owns and operates Roseleaf Recording Studio.