Clarence Clemons' Guitarist Billy Livesay Returns Home
After a dozen years trotting the globe with the late saxophonist Clarence Clemens (Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Foghat's Tony Stevens, guitarist Billy Livesay is settling back into a more stable, low-key, South Florida-based life. This includes jamming at local spots with his longtime classic-rock project the Livesays. That band, which formed back in 1996, is celebrating the release of its first official album in 15 years, Rose Colored Glasses, Saturday evening at Boston's in Delray Beach. And on the eve of that event, they will be opening for Kansas at Mizner Park in Boca.
Livesay is a veteran rocker through and through, at home on the stage with a tight black T-shirt -- which reveals a biceps full of tattoos -- a pair of pierced ears, and bleached, tussled hair. "I don't want to make it sound like the 'rock star lifestyle,'" he says, referring to his time touring with Clemens and Stevens, "but it is sort of that." He describes the late Clemens as a friend and his recent passing as "devastating." They were about to tour Japan together when Clemens died of complications from a stroke this past summer.
Being back home is "back to reality" for the South Florida-bred musician. His bandmates, most of whom he has known since high school, have families and day jobs. If they travel at all, it's usually weekend gigs within the state. It's pretty much a local bar-band situation for him these days, as it had been for the Livesays in between time touring as lead guitar and vocalist for both Temple of Soul (with Clemens) and Slow Ride (with Stevens) -- which is still an active band, though touring less frequently.
As far as local bar bands go, though, the Livesays are a strong one. And it serves as a great vehicle for the frontman's talents. They do classic rock, and they do it well -- from powerful blues numbers in which Livesay shreds his Gibson to pieces to more soulful songs that highlight his singing and songwriting abilities. Backing Livesay are drummer Eddie Zyne, whose résumé includes Hall and Oates and the Monkees; recent additions Victor "Cuqui" Berrios and Tim Murphy on organ and piano, respectively; and Jorge Leplume on bass. The latter was part of Livesay's original claim to relative fame, the '70s South Florida band Slyder.
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Though Livesay has some pretty interesting history behind him, he's not stuck in the glory days -- though the Livesays just might break into a Springsteen cover or two. He's got a new, great-sounding album to share, and he's enjoying what he's got going on. "I just kind of take it as it comes," he says.
When asked about 'Mr. Glory Days' himself, and whether he has any good 'Boss' stories, he offers simply: "Bruce Springsteen definitely knows he's Bruce Springsteen, and I'll just leave it at that."
The Livesays CD Release Party. 9 p.m. Saturday, December 10, at Boston's, 40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach. Click here.
Kansas. With Ambrosia and the Livesays. 6 p.m. Friday, December 9, at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $25 to $125. Click here.
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