While The Running Dog Band has been around, in one form or another, for quite some time, it’s been less than a year since singer/songwriter Ty Mares has joined the group, and even less time since they qualified — by winning the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation Local Blues Competition in October — to attend the International Blues Challenge (IBC) later this month.
For 21-year-old Ty Mares, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the band, it’s another step in the right direction. He and the band will perform one last benefit concert to get them to Memphis for IBC this Friday at the Lizzie Rose Music Room.
“Once we get done with the IBC, we’ll be ready to sit down and make a recording really worth listening to,” Mares says. “We haven’t really had time to sit back … we’ve been very rushed.”
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While band mates Dock Perry and Leroy Dunbar are original Running Dogs, everyone else has come on board within the past year. That’s a lot of adjustment in a short period of time.
“They’re pros,” Mares says of his band mates, Perry, Dunbar, Donald Guillaume and Vic Capetta. “They’re capable of playing anything I throw at them. I can literally throw anything in their direction and they’re not only going to take it, but they’re going to make it better.”
Mares, who is the youngest in the band by far, admires the professionalism and experience of his band mates, who have played with musicians like Albert King.
“It’s amazing,” Mares says. “I have had certain songs that I’ve given to bands trying to get my music to sound a certain way and I haven’t heard it until now. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Of the originals Mares has written, the three that have been selected to be played in the IBC Competition are “Still Breathing,” a bluesy funk track with a Charlie Hunter kind of vibe, “Gone,” which is more pop than blues, and “Laughter Before I Sleep,” a song Mares based on an old keyboard progression from Dock Perry and King.
“We’re doing a lot of blues that borderlines into the funk vibe rather than straight up swing,” says Mares. “We like to take the old tunes — the old Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan — and put our own twist to it. A little more rock-y but the blues are still there.”
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And while Mares, who has a distinct resemblance to John Mayer, continues to play solo shows, he is looking forward to working with The Running Dogs on a recording.
“I think my music fits the band well.”