PumpHouse is a regional touring band based in Richmond, Virginia, that, since 2012, has performed in clubs and musical festivals from Virginia to California, offering soulful originals and its own creative spin on Traditional and Chicago Jump/Swing Blues, R&B mixed with Rock and Roll and beyond. A diverse and thoroughly entertaining group of 7 experienced musicians devoted to their music, their friendship, and their fans, PumpHouse is fronted by Lutha Lucas, whose musical style has been described as a fusion of Lou Rawls & James Brown. Though he came from a background of singing in a church choir for much of his adult life with no experience in a band, he has become a phenomenal frontman who interacts with the crowds and belts out PumpHouse songs like a blues man or rocker who's been doing it his entire life.
Begun in 2012 as a Richmond -based, 3-man band, PumpHouse today includes its 3 original co-founders -- Wayne Chaplin, on harp and guitar, Wayne Pryor, on drums, and Pete Daniel, on bass guitar – along with lead singer Lutha Lucas; Chris Leitch, on trombone, keyboard, and vocals; Eddie Lohr, on lead guitar and vocals, and "Dr. J." Jimmy Jordan, on saxophone.
PumpHouse has entertained crowds as far west as Palm Springs, California. Its venues have included large music festivals – such as Floydfest, Strawberry Fest, Beer Bourbon & BBQ – as well as local clubs and for events, often in support of charities and other fundraisers. They've also played at private performances, including parties for NASCAR drivers and the Jimmy Hendrix estate, as well as appeared performing live on TV several times.
The band takes its name from an historic landmark of Richmond, known as the Old Pump House at Byrd Park. The city's second pumping station, built over a century ago, the facility made of stone walls pumped water from the nearby canal up to a reservoir in the park. Just as its old reliable pumps ensured a smooth reliable flow of cooling waters, so too the band can be counted on to deliver its smooth-flowing brand of cool musical sustenance.
Pete is fervent when he talks about the blues and its connection to other music. "The blues is the foundation of rock & roll." "Rock came from the blues guys. The big rock bands came from the blues and so is gospel very similar to the blues."
COVERS, CDs AND SONGWRITING
The band has done covers of the Blues greats, including B.B.King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, Willie Dixon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and others, but gradually they have evolved. Like the improvisational nature of jazz and blues itself, their years together playing the Blues has created its own evolution from the Blues and into wherever their interests and experiences take them. Reinventing themselves is an important part of what makes PumpHouse PumpHouse. PumpHouse has been a band that is always looking to expand into other genres and sounds, as their sound naturally evolves through the years.
Even the band's name has evolved from PumpHouse Blues Band to simply PumpHouse to reflect the band's broadening depth of talent and genres branching from, and going beyond, the blues.
The band's first album, "Pumped," was mainly covers with one original. Recorded at Richmond's In Your Ear Studios, the CD was released in 2019. 2021 will bring PumpHouse’s stable of original music written over the past 9 years to the forefront of its live shows and soon to released the band’s second CD, "I Got To Go “. With a growing stable of the band's own compositions and original songs, PumpHouse has grown and evolved from a blues cover band to a band of many genres that writes its own original songs. Also being recorded at the In Your Ear Studios in Richmond, VA, the CD is scheduled to be released shortly.
Pete and the two Waynes, who were all formerly bandmates in another band (the Lance Manley Band, a Richmond-based blues-rock band), brought to the new group their varied and already-broad musical experience:
Wayne Chaplin brought his Blues background to the band. Born in Lexington, VA, where he was introduced to the Blues at an early age, Wayne was steeped in the sounds of the Blues creators like Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Howlin Wolf, Lightnin’Hopkins, Son House, T-Bone Walker and more. While most kids were dazzled by early Rock & Roll or Mountain Music in his day, Wayne was drawn to the Blues. An accomplished Blues musician, he has played several instruments over his career, including Guitar, Bass, Harp and Drums. After spending many years on the California music scene playing with The Cosmic Cowboys and other bands, he arrived in Richmond, VA, where he continued his Blues journey with the Vista Cruisers, Lil Ronnie, The Homewreckers, Kingbees, Sony Jr Blues, Randy Britt Trio, Marvin & the Slackers, and co-founded the Lance Manley Band before co-founding PumpHouse Blues.
Drummer Wayne Pryorbrought a jazz background to the group, having been with the Marvin Taylor Experience and many more bands as well as LMB. His pulse on the cymbal with accented and synchronized rhythms testify to just part of his extraordinary talent.
And Pete Daniel, bass guitarist, brought a rock background. He was also a co-founder of the Lance Manley Band, and for the past 19 years, he has been involved on the music festival scene as the lead MC at Floydfest in addition to being a member of PumpHouse.
Not long after forming the group, the 3 original bandmembers began expanding the group. The first addition to the group, Lutha Lucas, was truly an improbable gem who would become not only the group's lead singer but its front man, a dynamic centerpiece of the entire group. Improbable, because when he joined the group he had had no experience singing in a band. But he came from a life-long background with the church – the Church of What's Happening Now, to be exact – and as a member of the church choir frequently doing standalone vocals, he had mastered the musical stylings of the great gospel songs. He had started singing for his family at the age of two, listening and singing along with the radio.
His influences spanning from Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, and Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls, Isaac Hayes, and Al Green, Lutha takes control of PumpHouse audiences wherever they go, mesmerizing them with his soulful and engaging style, a truly consummate performer.
Ultimately, with the gradual addition of 3 more musicians, the band gained its "perfect 7" complement that it is today – seven talented musicians led by the powerhouse of Lutha's voice and charisma. Soon following Lutha's arrival to the group, Chris Leitch, joined the group. Songwriter, composer, vocalist, trombonist, keyboardist, and all-around musical wizard, he brought a ska background, being a founding member of Richmond's own Boy Oh Boy and original member of Fighting Gravity. After Chris, Eddie Lohr joined. With his life-long love of the Blues, his vocals and electric guitar add to PumpHouse's unique style and tone. And finally, "Dr. J." Jimmy Jordan, saxophonist, joined the group, bringing his straight-ahead style, positivity and energy into every note.
Together, Lutha, the two Waynes and Pete, Chris, Eddie and Dr. J are a close-knit group, truly best of friends, all motivated by their love of music rather than money.
Pete says, "We just love to play, we're in the age group where money has nothing to do with it anymore – nice to be at a point in life where we can be about the music, not the money." "Our music is always naturally evolving – who knows where we'll end up musically." Stay tuned.