In a new light — out from the shadows of his previous role as six-stringed sideman — New York-based singer/songwriter Jamie McLean is on a roll with his current power trio. He earned a bit of notoriety and acclaim in the early 2000s as the guitarist for the funky, New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band, but he's now a proper bandleader in his own right.
It's been close to three years since McLean's official break from the Dirty Dozen. "It was a tough decision to leave a steady, bread-and-butter gig that takes me all over the world and had me playing with Nora Jones, Elvis Costello, and all the heavyweights in the industry," he says. "But it was something I felt strongly about, and it came on during a period of time. It was the next step that needed to happen, and the split was definitely amicable. They respect what I'm doing, and they expect some of the younger guys who play with them to break off and do their own things."
The Jamie McLean Band first came together in 2003 when the singer/guitarist and his brother, Carter, started shaping song ideas into fully arranged pieces. They brought bassist Derek Layes and keyboardist Jon Solo in time to record their first studio album. This Time Around was a funky, guitar-driven album of Southern-style blues rock, Americana, and soul, reminiscent of The Faces, the Stones, and early Bowie.
"It was the kind of thing that came together gradually," McLean explains. "It's more rock and more vocal-oriented and more song-oriented."
The current lineup features McLean on guitars and lead vocals, backed by bassist Ben Mars and drummer Brian Griffin. They've developed a more straightforward soul/roots-rock-style than McLean's previous material with the Dirty Dozen.
The trio is currently on tour behind a new studio album Completely — a smooth-groovin' collection of hook-filled guitar-rock, pop, and blues.
"I feel like we've reached that tipping point," McLean says. "It was always noted as 'the guitarist from the Dirty Dozen,' and I can't blame them. But I think people are starting to come out for our own music. It has definitely become its own entity now."
The Jamie McLean Band performs at Home Team BBQ in West Ashley on Wed. April. 28, and at Home Team BBQ on Sullivan's on Thurs. April. 29.