A brief, positive Orlando Weekly review of their debut show, at Will’s Pub in June 2011, led to The Sh-Booms being invited to perform the following month at an event presented by the Florida publication.
Not everything has gone so smooth or moved so fast since then for the garage-soul group, however.
Fast forward to 2015: The Sh-Booms were about halfway through recording what was to be their first album. Alan Armitage, the project’s engineer and producer, was concurrently doing sessions at the same facility with Brenda Radney, a backing vocalist for Justin Timberlake and an artist signed to the star’s Tennman Records. Armitage suggested to Sh-Booms leader and bassist Al Ruiz that it might be a good idea to have Radney check out a few of the band’s songs, then have her meet with lead singer Emily Patterson, who had only tracked scratch vocals up to that point, in order to “help Emily with some ideas,” as Ruiz puts it.
That day never came: Patterson decided to quit The Sh-Booms, and Ruiz responded by acting quickly.
“I asked Alan for [Radney’s] number the night I found out [Patterson] was leaving,” Ruiz recalls. “We hit it off pretty quickly, and she seemed like she was ready to move on from her current situation.” He sent Radney a pair of songs to learn, then purchased airfare for her to fly south from Staten Island, New York, to meet the other members and practice with them.
“Everyone in the band trusted my judgment and trusted Alan from everything that he had told us about her,” Ruiz says. “It got more gnarly and fun when Brenda joined … we got really gritty and turned more rock ’n’ roll.”
With the debut album shelved and Radney in the fold (having parted amicably with Tennman), The Sh-Booms took the rest of 2015 and some of 2016 to “redevelop and start figuring out what kind of band we wanted to be,” Ruiz says. Usage Fee, a four-song EP, arrived in March 2016, and that was followed by the “Dry Eyes”/“King and Queen” single in October 2017.
The first Sh-Booms album, The Blurred Odyssey, was released in March on Limited Fanfare Records. The 10-song effort was tracked to tape with co-producer Simon Palombi, singer for fellow Florida rock-soulsters The Woolly Bushmen, then sent to producer Armitage, who also mixed.
“We did it half old school with a sense of limited new-school production,” Ruiz says.
The Sh-Booms will be taking a mixed approach in terms of personnel on their spring U.S. tour, according to Ruiz.
“We have friends who live in different parts of the country who will be [filling in],” he says. “Some of the originals will be doing [certain dates], others flying in and out. It’s been controlled chaos in the making.”
— By Chris M. Junior
The Sh-Booms on tour (schedule subject to change):
May 16: Saturn — Birmingham, Alabama
May 17: JJ’s Bohemia — Chattanooga, Tennessee
May 18: The Basement — Nashville, Tennessee
May 19: The Ready Room — St. Louis
May 20: Bokeh Lounge — Evansville, Indiana
May 21: Subterranean — Chicago
May 22: Deluxx Fluxx — Detroit
May 23: Beachland Tavern — Cleveland
May 24: Chameleon Club Lizard Lounge — Lancaster, Pennsylvania
May 25: Higher Ground — Burlington, Vermont
May 27: The Middle East — Cambridge, Massachusetts
May 28: The Knitting Factory — Brooklyn, New York
May 29: Johnny Brenda’s — Philadelphia
May 30: Richmond Music Hall — Richmond, Virginia
May 31: Cat’s Cradle Back Room — Carrboro, North Carolina
June 1: Smith’s Olde Bar — Atlanta
Photo by James Hand