On New Year’s Eve 2013 a dynamic show took place at the Huntington Beach Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. Saxophonist Eric Darius with his special guest, Larry Braggs opened the evening’s festivities in front of Brian Culbertson. This high energy lineup of exuberant artists, who are at the top of their game, made it a New Year’s Eve not to forget.
Darius and Braggs take an enormous amount of pride in performing to that level of excellence. This coming year that tradition of distinction will carry on through all of their endeavors. Speaking to both performers, they shared with me what is coming up for them. True to form, both gentlemen will be very busy performing as well as continuously creating and 2014 looks exciting for each of them.
Larry Braggs – After a 14 year run as lead singer of Tower of Power, Braggs has just embarked on a solo career and there is no stopping him from his pursuit of creative expression. He is working on two albums right now, one is a blues, soul record and the other is with his trio doing a series of Salons in people’s homes called The Cook Book Living Room Series. They will be performing the music of Sam Cooke, hence the name “Cookbook,” starting in March and he is working on recording those sessions for an album.
He is also writing a book of poems and quotations he has penned. The quotations will include some from famous people that he enjoys as well.
Another exciting venture for Braggs will be doing a segment with Destination Magazine called, “On the Road”. “It will be (in part) about my concert travels and I will also do interviews with other musicians while on the road. It won’t be typical interviews; more of the inside scoops, and insights while they tour, in video segments.”
So in 2014 we will be able to catch Braggs in three dimensions; live in concert, reading his writings and seeing him on video segments. He says he might even try to throw in a Christmas record but adds that is just something in the back of his head right now.
For what he has yet to do Braggs wants to do a lot more speaking to kids in schools, saying, “There is a gap from taking music and arts out of schools. It’s left a void and my contribution is to give back. I know how important it is to have structure and mentorship and how important teaching is. We have benefited a lot and it’s important to give back to the kids now so they can help the next generation.”
Eric Darius – This was the first New Year’s Eve show Darius has done in a long time and he was very excited to share the stage with Braggs once again. He says it was an amazing night of dancing partying and celebrating the evening in the right way. Braggs adds, “Eric Darius is one of the up and coming saxophone players and I always enjoy doing shows with him, he’s a high energy guy and he will be around for a long time.”
“It’s a pretty energized deal by Eric and (me) and it will be fun,” says Braggs offering a straightforward description. “We’ll be playing songs from all our albums and we may mix things up a little too. It can turn into something we’re not expecting it to be… it could just take off and never come back.”
The last few months of 2013 were very busy with new opportunities. Darius performed with Mary J. Blige (Grammy Award winner) and Verve Music Group Chairman, David Foster for a live orchestra concert on the Home Shopping Network. “It was amazing and a tremendous opportunity to share the stage with both Mary J. Blige and David Foster. They are each incredible and accomplished artists. I had a great time working with them and hope there will be more opportunities in the future.” He also appeared on The X Factor season finale and you may have caught him in an episode of Mob City.
Darius will release a new album in 2014. As an artist he says he wants to try new things and evolve musically so this album will have a new sound. With each of his albums, his goal is to stretch and try new styles. “That’s the true excitement about releasing new music”, he says. “It’s pointless to release a new album if you don’t have anything new to say. There have been so many changes and experiences over the years and they will be reflected on this album.”
Darius’ school campaign, On A Mission is also something he wants to keep promoting. He says, “It (forwards) music education and encourages the younger generation to follow their dreams about playing an instrument and any other dreams they have for themselves. It’s about keeping the music alive in schools and something that we are definitely going to be refocusing on for 2014.”
Darius has many exciting things in the works and adds, “It is very important for me to connect with my fans and they are the reason I get to do what I love to do. I’m thankful for all their support … and that they are going on this journey with me.”