SHIPP is: Michael (Roosterboy) Shipp ~ Jai Lambert ~ Richard Wilson
Michael Shipp: Guitars, Electric Bass, Vocals
It’s only fitting that MICHAEL SHIPP had his humble origins in the cotton-growing communities of Mississippi County, Arkansas, near the epicenter of where it all began, where Delta blues crashed into country and western and gave the world rock and roll. An early interest in music was stirred when SHIPP attended a JOHNNY CASH concert at the tender age of 8 and became a passion six years later when he saw ELVIS PRESLEY live.
Drums came first, and SHIPP was good at it, but he soon took up the guitar and hasn’t let go since. Blues and country influences came naturally. Then THE BEATLES came along in 1964 and SHIPP, like so many other budding musicians of the time, found himself swept up in the “British Invasion” and was soon caught up in the sounds of THE ROLLING STONES, THE ANIMALS, and countless others.
SHIPP’S family relocated to the Little Rock area when he was a young teenager and it was there that he honed his chops as a much sought-after guitarist in a series of local bands. Southern rock came to prominence during that time and had a powerful impact on SHIPP’S musical style. THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND and BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, in particular, steered SHIPP toward an edgier, more powerful sound that set the pace for things to come. Not long after graduating high school, SHIPP and his bass-playing brother formed THE SHIPP BROTHERS BAND and rounded out their new power trio with a drummer by the name of BILLY BOB THORNTON.
In the summer of 1982, THE SHIPP BROTHERS had just performed their first gig in Houston, Texas. After their set, two guys in suits came to the small backstage dressing room and asked to visit with the band. The producers were amazed with SHIPP’S uncanny but natural ability to nail that nasty Texas rock testosterone tone made famous by ZZ TOP’S BILLY GIBBONS during the previous ten years and, right there on the spot, handpicked SHIPP to lead the band as the first-ever “Tribute to ZZ TOP” band, under the management of LONE WOLF PRODUCTIONS, ZZ TOP’S own management company. For the next three years, the band, now re-christened as “TRES HOMBRES” toured the South, playing to enthusiastic crowds as headliners and, occasionally, as opening act for many of the internationally famous bands that had influenced them. It was during this period that TRES HOMBRES recorded their only album, “Gunslinger”, which got considerable airplay on major market radio stations throughout the Southwest, and SHIPP was nominated as “New Texas Artist of the Year” by a major Texas music magazine, an honor which he narrowly lost — to STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN.
In the mid-eighties, THORNTON left the band for Hollywood in pursuit of an acting career. SHIPP, having relocated to Houston, moved back to Arkansas and pursued a more settled life as a family man and successful business owner, all the while playing music and perfecting his style with various local and regional bands. Then, in 1995, BILLY BOB THORNTON called. After kicking off a highly successful acting career with his classic film “Sling Blade” (in which SHIPP appears as an extra in the opening scene), THORNTON decided to revisit his first love – music – and recruited SHIPP to help make that happen. As lead guitarist, SHIPP toured North America and Europe on THORNTON’S “Beautiful Door” tour and in the following years as a member of THORNTON’S “modbilly” music project, THE BOXMASTERS. Their rekindled writing, recording, and producing collaboration resulted in SHIPP’S critically acclaimed 2003 CD “The Adventures of Roosterboy”, and the upcoming CD “Crow Loudly”, slated for a June 2012 release.
SHIPP has always been a “musician’s musician”. With a sound and a stage presence that’s a throwback to the exciting days of seventies arena rock, those who’ve had the good fortune to see his scorching live show inevitably compare SHIPP to ALVIN LEE of TEN YEARS AFTER, MARK KNOPFLER, KEITH RICHARDS, DICKEY BETTS, JOHNNY CASH — and, of course, BILLY GIBBONS.
A few years back when SHIPP was producing music for his old drummer-turned-actor THORNTON, the two of them were visiting with BILLY GIBBONS one evening in Hollywood. GIBBONS began reminiscing about those days back in Houston. He said he remembered TRES HOMBRES and always heard good things about the band. As always, GIBBONS had a story to tell. He recalled being with friends one night back in Houston, trying to decide what to do for the evening. When someone suggested that they all go see TRES HOMBRES, GIBBONS asked, “Are they any good?” GIBBONS then looked at SHIPP as he continued the story. “My friend said, ‘let’s just say if you ever want to learn how to play your songs again, you need to see this SHIPP guy!’” GIBBONS began laughing and SHIPP knew he’d just gotten a compliment by one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. For a romp-stompin’, cigar-chompin’ guitar slinger from the Delta, praise does not come any higher than that.
Jai Lambert: Electric Bass, Guitars, Vocals
Bassist/Guitarist JAI LAMBERT is a veteran stage and studio musician whose musical career spans from 1973 to present day. He has participated in many unique and original groups including the band REMINISCENCE with the legendary BROOKS BROWN in the mid to late 70s, and the Hot Springs based power trio KIDZ with CLINT ALLEN, also in the late 70s.
In the early 80s, playing with the prog-rock group GULFSTREAM, LAMBERT toured Florida’s east coast and, in 1983, the continental United States and Alaska playing over 300 dates with CLINT ALLEN’S group DIAMOND ROMEO, also featuring BROOKS BROWN. After a short stint with what was to become a phenomenally successful Fort Smith based group DAVID AND THE IMMATURES, LAMBERT played with the highly original and stylistic group PAPERKID. With the help of producer/engineer BOB KETCHUM, PAPERKID would record over 50 original songs at Ketchum’s CEDAR CREST STUDIO drawing interest from at least 3 major labels.
Collaborations with songwriter/guitarist JOE HAMILTON in the late 80s and early 90s led to an independent Album release from HAMILTON LAMBERT entitled LETTERS FROM THE EARTH also produced and engineered by BOB KETCHUM. From 1988-92, JAI played with the legendary Little Rock based progressive rock group THE FREDS. In 1992-94, LAMBERT formed the power trio MEN OF HONOUR with former FREDS drummer CHUCK HORST and the late GARY GRACE, releasing a self-titled album in 1993.
With ACOUSTIC PAGANS, two separate stints with multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter JIM PAGAN produced a CD entitled IT’S ABOUT TIME released in 2003. He also played with the popular Arkansas artists/groups THE GROANUPS, THE TAPAS, BRYAN FRAZIER and BROTHERS WITH DIFFERENT MOTHERS.
Throughout his career, JAI has shared the stage with/opened for BRAD GILLIS/NIGHTRANGER, CHEAP TRICK, FOGHAT, THE OUTLAWS, EDDIE MONEY, THE ROMANTICS, ADRIAN LEGG, RICK DERRINGER, NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS, THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, THE MEAT PUPPETS, LITTLE FEAT, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, AMERICA, and 38 SPECIAL.
Richard Wilson: Drums, Percussion
Drummer, RICHARD WILSON got his first set of drums for his 11th birthday and never put down the sticks. During his college years, RICHARD had the pleasure of studying jazz drumming and symphonic percussion under the tutelage of Paul Guerrero and Steve Houghton, both of which played for the great Woody Herman, and both of which also played in the famous One O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas under the late, great Leon Breeden.
Throughout his multifaceted musical life, RICHARD has enjoyed teaming up with so many wonderful vocalists and instrumentalists, both for the live stage as well as the recording studio, and is especially pleased to be percussion support for Michael and Jai with SHIPP.