Brownbird Rudy Relic Admits: "The Better My Hair Was, the Better My Music Was"

From the Delta to the bayou, the blues touch the hearts, souls, and ears of the love-struck, down-and-out, and the everyday soul-searcher. It connects all people through its emotional expression of the human condition.

In honor of the blues, a movement that inspired endless creations of iconic music and art, Kreepy Tiki Tattoo is hosting its first art exhibition, "Born in the Backwoods." Works displayed are inspired by the art of the Deep South at the start of the 20th Century. 

Singer/songwriter Brownbird Rudy Relic, a modern-day blues traveler, is a fitting character to add the sounds to the visuals next door at 5 Points Lounge at its one-year-anniversary party. Performing alongside Brownbird is fellow blues musician Joey Gilmore and guest DJs Mikey Ramirez, James Brown Sweat, and DJ Blue. We caught up with the elusive 'Bird and asked him his thoughts about, well, the blues. 

County Grind: When did you first discover the blues?
 Brownbird Rudy Relic: Everything I am as a musician can be summed up with two words: good hair. I've been playing music for most of my life, from punk bands as a kid to '50s greaser stuff as a teenager, and now blues. And you can count on it like taxes -- the better my hair was, the better my music was. And does hair get any better than the blues? Nope. 

There are so many elements that make up the genre, what is the blues to you?
I've always been of fan of the older stuff, from ragtime and Delta to Piedmont and hokum. That's the foundation of what I see as the blues, of what it is to me. It's such a varied genre that I just try to make it my own and not get bogged down in convention. I use the old stuff as the driving mechanism and bring in all my own influences to create a music that is solely my style of blues.
What would you say about the culture's visual art and music?
I think any viable musical genre has a visual and cultural component. The question is, is it any good? The blues from a marketing standpoint is a watered-down Pepto Bismol commercial where cartoon pigs have tattoos and ride motorcycles. Can it be viable? Of course. That's why Saturday's art show is going to be amazing from jumpstreet. You've got a slew of talented artists channeling an honest love and portrayal of what the blues means to them.
When you're onstage, do you feel the musicians of yesteryear are watching?
I think of one person before getting on stage: Charley Patton. If I had a blues spirit animal, it would be him. I don't feel so much as he's watching me as I am watching him. I've asked myself every morning of my blues career: Am I doing him justice? I don't mean copping his style; I mean living his spirit. He's the greatest to do it, and I'm honored to even try.

When did you meet the fellas at Kreepy Tiki and 5 Points Lounge?  
I met Jaksin at a Diablo Dimes show in Miami; he knew about my music from way back. We talked, we clicked, and the rest is history. He's one of the coolest cats you'll ever meet. His passion for tattooing and music is unparalleled. I'm just glad he doesn't play the guitar...
Do you think venues like 5 Points help keep the spirit of the music alive?
If there were more venues like 5 Points, then the answer would be yes. Unfortunately, they are few and far and in between, and 5 Points is one of the best. In general, South Florida has got so much love for me, we might as well be dating. And as a bird, I relish every time I get to fly south.

"Born in the Backwoods" opens to the public at 7 p.m. and runs until April 1, with free parking and free admission for everyone 18+. 

Brownbird Rudy Relic, with Joey Gilmore and guest DJs, all-night drink specials, a surprise prize wheel, and Frankie Dogs gourmet hot dogs. 8 p.m. at Kreepy Tiki Tattoo and 5 Points Lounge, 2609 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. 

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Lizzie Rae