Blues Lawyer and the Art of Patience

How the band bounced back from pandemic peril with a fab new album

Blues Lawyer (Image: BandCamp)

Blues Lawyer was in the process of promoting their second album, Something Different, when COVID brought the world to a halt. 

“We had a tour of Japan booked and had bought plane tickets. Then the flights got canceled,” said Rob Miller, the band’s rhythm guitarist and main vocalist and songwriter. “I had to go through a bureaucratic labyrinth to get some money back. It was pretty brutal. 2020 was supposed to be the year we’d tour and support our record, but all of that was put on standby. When we all thought the world was coming to an end, I started writing songs again. I thought I must be a glutton for punishment to do the same thing all over again, but the only thing that could keep me sane was to go on making music. If I gave up on that, I’d sink into a deep depression.”   

The band — rounded out by bass player Alejandra Alcala, lead guitarist Ellen Matthews and drummer, vocalist and songwriter Elyse Schrock — usually gathers to jam on the ideas Miller and Schrock bring to rehearsals. Unable to do so, Miller started making demos with everything planned out. He emailed his ideas to the other musicians and they responded with their comments. “We finally got together at our Oakland rehearsal space in the fall of ’21, everyone masked and vaxxed. Everyone was familiar with the songs, because of the individual work they’d put into them. It was great, finally being in the same room and hearing the music come alive.”

Blues Lawyer All In Good Time, Dark Entries Records 2023

Once they had the final arrangements worked out, they headed into the studio to record the songs on All in Good Time, the title Miller had in mind as he was writing the tunes. “Some people have the notion that our lives are broken down into periods in which you’re supposed to achieve certain things, like graduating from school, getting married and being financially comfortable. This should take place by the time you’re 30, for example. The album is about not surrendering  to that idea and being OK with not knowing where you are in your life. When you can accept that there are things beyond your control, and that its OK to not know where you’re at or where you’re going, you can calm down. That sentiment is the summation of the album. The songs are about arriving at that conclusion. The first line of the first song on the album, ‘Chance Encounters,’ is ‘I wanna stop talking about the way things used to be.’ Our earlier songs were caught up in the past events of one’s life. These are more reflective, and more focused on looking forward.” 

The band cut the album in three days, at Santo Studio in Oakland, with producer Andrew Oswald. 

“We were all masked,” Miller said. “We overdubbed the vocals after. That streamlines things and makes it a bit simpler. You don’t have wear headphones to listen to the scratch vocals. Masks and headphones take you out of the experience of playing your instrument and focusing intently on that.” Miller said the vocals were done later in booths, safely isolated. 

Despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic, All In Good Time sounds like a live performance. “I Won’t” is a bright, bouncy pop/punk tune with a propulsive beat. Matthews plays a distorted guitar rhythm as Schrock provides a syncopated backbeat and a cheerful vocal. Miller sings lead on “Wrong Time,” a mid-tempo lament. He describes the tangled feelings one has coming to terms with the end of a love affair, softly singing, “What’s worse than feeling bad? Feeling nothing at all.” The album closer is “Tangled Mess,” a rocker with a lively vocal duet between Miller and Schrock and a short, hard-hitting guitar solo by Matthews. The song’s lyric describes the end of a complicated relationship. 

The band wrapped up the recording process last year but, since they’re a self-financed DIY band, it took a long time to get everything lined up for the physical release. 

“After you make an album, you have to figure out how to present it to the public,” Mille said. “We ended up partnering with Dark Entries, a label that reissues dance music classics. I used to do the mail order marketing for the band and I noticed that Josh [Cheon, owner of Dark Entries] bought our two previous albums. A lot of people were scratching their heads when they heard Dark Entries were putting us out, but [Josh] is a music obsessive and said he could help us get it mastered and manufactured.”


VIDEO: Blues Lawyer “Nowhere To Go”

With the album out, they’re ready to hit the road to promote it. “We play periodically, but it’s easy to oversaturate the local Bay Area market. We are going to do a couple of tours this year: the Pacific Northwest in April and, in September, we’re going to Europe. A promoter in Portugal heard our music and contacted us. He said he wanted to help out and booked us.” 

The band also makes videos, available on YouTube, produced and directed by their drummer Elyse Schrock. Other than that, they keep a low internet profile. 

“We use Instagram and Twitter, but don’t have a website,” Miller said. “Buying a domain name is expensive and most people don’t go to band websites anyway.” 





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j. poet

j. poet has been writing about music for most of his adult life. He has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, Harp, Paste,,, American Profile, Creem, Relix, Downbeat, Folk Roots, New Noise and more national and international publications and websites than he can remember. He wrote most of the Musichound Guide to World Music (Visible Ink, 2000) and had two stories in Best Rock Writing 2014 (That Devil Music). He has interviewed a wide spectrum of artists including Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard and Godzilla. He lives in San Francisco. 

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