SHIRLEY -- Bees Deluxe will open for the iconic Roomful of Blues on New Year's Eve at the Bull Run Restaurant.
In 2012, the band's CD "Space Age Bachelor Pad" was described by Lady K in Boston Blues Society as "a whole lot of acid-jazz, mixed up with some classic rock and a little blues music."
"I call it acid blues," Bees Deluxe singer-guitarist frontman Conrad Warre told the Sentinel & Enterprise on Tuesday. "Every city you go to, you have a punk-rock music scene modeled in the 1970s. Every city has its bebop scene, and every city has a blues scene, which tends to be set in '50s and '60s Delta and Chicago blues styles -- and while all of those styles can be great, we steer away from reproducing them as faithfully as they are being done by everyone else."
Warre said the band's lineup for New Year's Eve at the Bull Run will be Carol Band on keyboards, Allyn "Aldo" Dorr on bass, and a good friend, Colin Rosso, who has flown back from Los Angeles to play with them.
"I knew he was visiting his family back here for the holidays on the East Coast so we roped him in to play drums with us for this show," he said.
Warre said you could drop any one of these musicians into any music scene and they would fit right in.
"And as much as I love all those kinds of music, I don't see the value of playing that again and again. We are not gonna play it the same way every night," said Warre, whose band's tunes are often mistaken for originals.
"Sometimes we get this weird response," he said.
Warre said the band's aim is to rearrange the rarer tunes they know and love, doing them in different rhythms, tempos and keys, and sometimes switching them from major to minor or from minor to major because the tunes are so good they can stand being mixed up by a group like Bees Deluxe.
"If the audience is really digging the tune, we stretch it in time with a nod to the bass player or the drummer -- either can be prompted to break out into a solo. We try to get even more out of each of the musicians on stage," he said.
There are 12 tunes on the 2012 release, including two covers, "God Bless the Child" and "Hot Cha." The rest are written by Bruce Mattson or Warre.
"Mattson wrote 'Rooster Shoe.' He left us to go on tour with Gregg Allman. I wrote the others," Warre said.
When we spoke, the band was getting ready to practice and run tunes the next day. He said they would make selections from the band's set list, which includes "God Bless the Child" and "Damn Your Eyes" by Etta James (a singer Warre says he loves), "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog" by Bobby "Blue" Bland, and they may play "Georgia," "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by Charles Mingus, "Green Tea" by John Scofield, "Talk to your Daughter" by J.B. Lenoir, and Albert Collins' "Traveling South."
"And a tune we love playing is called 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy' by Joe Zawinul, a crossover hit for jazz alto saxophonist Julian 'Cannonball' Adderly," Warre said. "It's a great tune but was rearranged as a horrible vocal pop hit for the Buckinghams in 1967, but we play it as an instrumental as it was originally intended."
In the spring, Bees Deluxe released a live album, "Bluesapocalypse," recorded at the Arlington Center for the Arts Theatre.
"We were talking about raising money for the Arlington Arts Center, and we need to put on a show, so we came up with a name, 'Bluesapocalypse,' and we got to raise thousands of dollars for (the center), a place for kids to learn, paint and put on shows -- and somebody recorded us playing our last set, and that live recording was the source for a live CD," he said.
"I was picky about the guitar playing and sound in terms of EQ or tone," he added. "As a musician, you have more control in the studio than when you do live -- on stage all hell breaks loose -- and in that CD, all I hear is our mistakes. But friends listen and, seemingly, they enjoy it."
Warre brought the band together. He used to play in New Yorks at clubs like CBGB's, the Ritz and the Peppermint Lounge. His then-girlfriend got a job in Boston, they moved north, had children, and he put the guitar under the sofa.
"Now the kids are grown and sensible, and I can start playing again," he said. "I organized an ensemble around who wants to play and who's available six to seven years ago, and slowly we are making our way up from tiny bars in Jamaica Plain. We'd play at the Midway Café for $20, and every time we'd play, we would be invited back to the same room, and now to play for such an incredible room like the one at Bull Run -- and to open for Roomful of Blues, a truly legendary group whose original guitarist was Duke Robillard and then Ronnie Earl and now is led by guitarist Chris Vachon, with Rich Vataille on tenor and alto sax and vocalist Phil Pemberton. They're playing, they're fantastic, and we are excited to play and even just to go to hear those guys play."
Bees Deluxe often features tracks from their CDs, such as Robben Ford's "Start It Up" and the B.B. King classic "I've Been Downhearted," as well as tunes from "Space Age Bachelor Pad," "Roll Over Stockhausen" with saxes, and "Zoe's Chromatic Blues," an instrumental boogie, along with Robert Cray's "Phone Booth," and the unforgettable "Ain't Nobody's Business," written by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins.
"We will play as many as we can, but switching at 9:30 p.m. for the headliner, I am assuming more than half the audience never heard of us," he said. "So it's a delicate balance choosing tunes we know they are going to like and recognize. For instance, we do a Robert Cray song called 'Bad Influence,' and we do a bizarre version of 'Frankenstein' by Edgar Winter, but in no way we are a wedding band. We have to trust in the audience, and then decide in real time what songs they might appreciate."
Warre said he plays better when somebody is listening.
"At home I am not good, but in front of an audience you start to get good," he said. "When you see the audience appreciate the up tempo, you can throw another one in, in the same way we adapt to the audience's needs and wants.
The London-born Warre came to the States in the early 1980s to work in graphic design. He had graduated in England with a degree in graphic communications. He said it works for him.
"I can work in the day and play music at night -- it's the best of both worlds," said Warre, who professed that he would play seven nights a week if he could.
Bees Deluxe is working on a new album of all original music while it keeps up a steady schedule of live performances.
The band will be at the Blacksheep Tavern in Sterling on Jan. 7, at Ryles in Cambridge in February, back at the Bull Run on March 1 and at the Gardner Ale House, also in March.
"We are booking all the way through next year," he said.
For Warre, all the everyday problems are completely washed away by the joy of playing.
"You forget all the hardships, like 'Are we gonna have a flat tire on the way there?' or 'Are we gonna get ripped off by the venue?' You just don't care. And you gotta have a sense of humor about it. B.B. King said you gotta pick musicians who can play 50 percent and are able to play cards on the bus 50 percent. Everybody has got to be compatible for it to really work, and we all do like each other. These are the sort of people I would be happy to sit next to on the bus," he said chuckling.
Roomful of Blues New Year's featuring Bees Deluxe is Saturday, 7 p.m. Go to tickets.bullrunrestaurant.com.
WEEKEND BEST BETS
Dining and Entertainment
Wasabi with Michael Martin: Thursday, 9 p.m., Gardner Ale House, 74 Parker St.
Also at Gardner Ale House:
* Boothill Express Duo: Friday, 9 p.m.
* New Year's Eve Party 2017: Saturday, 9 p.m.
* Sunday Live Jazz Brunch Buffet: Chet Williamson and Jimmy Morrell
* Blue Monday: The D's featuring Danny Banks, 7 p.m.
Blues Jam: Thursday night, Café Destaré Martini Bar, 320 Main St., Fitchburg. Visit www.destare.com.
"John Cleese & The Holy Grail": Jan. 20, Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, Worcester. Visit thehanovertheatre.org.
Plastic Imagination: Fitchburg Art Museum, 185 Elm St. fitchburgartmuseum.org
Also at Fitchburg Art Museum:
* "Evoking Eleanor": The Art, Life, and Legacy of FAM Founder Eleanor Norcross
* Neil Rantoul: "Monsters"
* Global Africa: Classic, contemporary, commissioned art.
"Holy Fools to Wonder Workers: Saints of the Orthodox Faith": Through Feb. 26, Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St. Clinton, visit www.museumofrussianicons.org.
Also at MORI:
* "Two Imperial Icons": Through May.
"Picket Fence to Picket Line: Visions of American Citizenship": Through Feb. 6, Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St. Visit www.worcesterart.org.
Also at Worcester Art Museum:
* "Kahbahblooom: The Art and Storytelling of Ed Emberley"
* Renoir: "The Jewish Wedding"
* Facing the World: Modern Ideas and Splendor in Meiji, Japan
Operation Friendship Fundraiser: Youth cultural exchange, Dick's Beantown Comedy, Friday, doors open at 8 p.m., Worcester. 257 Park Ave., Dick Comedy Escape, visit Worcester. Worcester.laughstub.com
Comedy Escape: Chris Zito, Steve Donovan, and Friends: Saturday, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m.; visitWorcester.laughstub.com
Film Night for Grown-ups: Thursday, 6:30-9 p.m., Eddie the Eagle PG-13; 30 West St., Leominster Public Library.
Also at Leominster Library:
* Thursday Evening Book Sale: 6-8 p.m.
* Game Night for Grown-ups: Friday, 6-10 p.m.
* North Central Mass Networkers Group: Tuesday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
* Alzheimer and Dementia Caregivers Meeting: Tuesday, 6-8 p.m.
Genealogy Help: Thursday, 12:30-4 p.m.; 610 Main St. Fitchburg Library.
Also at Fitchburg Library:
* Knit and Crochet: Thursday, 1-3 p.m.
* Fitchburg Historical Commission: Thursday, 6-7:45 p.m.
* ARC Meeting: Friday, noon-2 p.m.
* Peer Support Meeting: Wednesday, 10-11 a.m.
* Worcester County Foodbank: Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.-noon.
* Community Huddle: Wednesday, 6:25-7:45 p.m.
Family Dinner and a Movie: Thursday, 5-7 p.m. Lunenburg Public Library, 1023 Massachusetts Ave.
Also at Lunenburg Library:
* Friendly Seniors Board Meeting: Tuesday, 10 a.m.-noon.
Family Best Bets
Family Activities, Tours and More: Through December; 55 Salisbury St. Worcester Art Museum. Visit www.worcesterart.org
Santa and the Christmas Trolls: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. and noon, Wednesday, 10 a.m. Drawbridge Puppet Theatre, 1335 Mass Ave., Lunenburg.
Also at Drawbridge:
* Kids Free Magic Show with Stephanie Beach: Saturday, 11-11:30 a.m.
Kids Audio Tour & Alphabet Gallery Guide: Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St., Clinton. Visit www.museumofrussianicons.org.
Kids Winter Vacation Drop-in Crafts: Thursday, 10 a.m.-noon, 30 West. St. Leominster Library; advance registration required.
Also at Leominster Library:
* Keep Calm and Color On! Teen Coloring Program: Thursday, 2-5 p.m.
* Free Play LEGO Day & Kids Coloring: Friday, 10 a.m.-noon.
* Preschool Storytime: Tuesday, 10-10:30 a.m.
* Terrific Twos Storytime: Wednesday, 10-10:30 a.m.
* Card Battle Royale: Wednesday, 6-9 p.m.
Lego Club: Thursday, 3:30-4:30 p.m., 610 Main St., Fitchburg Library.
Also at Fitchburg Library:
* STEAM Play in the Garden: Friday, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
* Gaming: Friday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
* Story Time: Tuesday, 10:30-11 a.m.
Children's Book Club "Tuesdays with Stories": Tuesday, 3:30-4:30 p.m. 1023 Main St., Lunenburg Library.
Also at Lunenburg Library:
* Little Tykes Story Time: Wednesday, 11-11:30 a.m., Wednesday, 11a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Check your local libraries for passes and special events.