Another single is on it’s way: “Turn The Key” Premiers on Elmore Magazine:
Mueller told Elmore, “‘Turn the Key’ starts back in 2008 when I went to the Blues Music Awards with The Insomniacs. I went the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi and met Rat, who ran the place and grew up there as a child. Rat’s mom converted what had been a black hospital into a hotel. Rat had this routine—you had to look through the guestbook. You had to sit down, and listen to all his old stories about these blues legends. It was an essential part of the whole experience. Rat told me about John Lee Hooker having two rooms while he stayed there, one for his wife and one for his girlfriend.
“Julie Amici & Dean Mueller run the roots gamut on their upcoming album, I Loved You So. Nestled comfortably in the soles of old-school Americana, the kind of music that they create transports listeners into home-sewn stories of family, life, and love. They do so with a keen sense of what makes timeless folk, country, and blues-tinged tunes tick and produce an ageless sound in the process”. – For Folks Sake
Julie Amici & Dean Mueller make Americana in the old-school sense. Their new LP I Loved You So is a thick, low-simmering stew of country, folk and blues peppered with subtle hints of jazz and gospel. In the last few years, this melting-pot of traditional American sounds has taken them from their hometown of Portland, Ore., all the way to Memphis, Tenn., where they’ve been recognized by the Cascade Blues Association not only as recording artists and performers, but also for their nonprofit work—bringing the gift of music to disadvantaged children, people with autism and the elderly through the Mudd Nick Foundation, United By Music and their own organization, Fly Me to the Moon, operated in partnership with the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.
The story of I Loved You So—the follow-up to their 2017 debut EP Yellow Roses—begins with Julie & Dean winning Cascade’s Journey to Memphis competition. “We started writing some pure blues songs for Journey to Memphis, and it really lit a fire under us creatively,” Amici says. ‘I Wanted You,’ ‘Sardines & Saltines,’ ‘Turn the Key’—those songs ended up being the spark that led to this new record.”
When it came time to refine and record the new material, the duo partnered with producer Alan Jones (Esperanza Spalding, Kelly Joe Phelps), with whom they’d worked on Yellow Roses. “I met Alan a dozen years ago,” Mueller says. “He’s a world-class jazz drummer and educator who learned by hanging out with guys like Art Blakey and Elvin Jones and touring all over Europe. Julie and I played a weekly jazz-standards program with him—we had such a connection that we invited him to work on some originals with us.”
“Alan has a pretty avant-garde approach to music,” Amici says. “He’s extremely knowledgeable, and has seen and done it all. While jazz is his area of expertise, he’s really keen on a good song—strong lyrics, relatable stories that draw you in. He helped us a lot with the lyrics and song structures. The partnership works because each of us contributes something meaningful. I write a lot of the songs, so I provide the seed, Dean is the soil, Alan is the water, and together we grow this beautiful music.”
For the sessions, Jones was on drums and percussion, and Amici handled the bulk of the lead vocals, with Mueller also singing a few songs and playing rhythm guitar, as well as electric and upright bass. On keys, they tapped Dave Fleschner, who’s made a name for himself playing with Blues Brothers-inspiration and Bonnie Raitt / Santana / Robert Cray-collaborator Curtis Salgado. And on lead guitar, they employed a rotating cast—secret ingredients chosen specifically to enhance each genre in Julie & Dean’s Americana stew: Mike Gamble played the spacier, more atmospheric parts; depending on the track, Alan Hager—who has also recorded and toured with Salgado—brought a traditional Chicago-blues feel or a slick Nashville sound; Thad Beckman handled the acoustic country & blues numbers; and Chris Carlson (Mueller’s bandmate in Portland’s Duffy Bishop Band) added his jazz-inflected chops to the mix, as well.
“Compared to Yellow Roses,” Amici says, “I Loved You So is a little grittier, more electrified, and sexier… I hope!”
“It’s definitely less wholesome,” Mueller agrees. “On the first EP, Julie wrote most of the songs, and they had roots in her childhood. It was very meaningful to her, and it was sweet because Julie is sweet. I Loved You So is more collaborative—more a combination of both our musical personalities.”
Julie Amici & Dean Mueller met on the Portland music scene, and started playing together in 2014, building their rapport on live tributes to Patsy Cline, Nina Simone and John Prine. Mueller—an award-winning musician who’s performed with everyone from contemporary-blues mainstay Corey Harris to the late legends Honeyboy Edwards and Pintetop Perkins—had just started booking a music series at the Lake Theater in Lake Oswego, Ore., and he and Amici played there regularly, developing their sound and a strong local following. Before long, they were touring up and down the Oregon coast (where Amici had previously fronted a six-piece jazz band), and throughout the Pacficic Northwest, including regular annual performances at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival.
“We work really well together,” Amici says. “I can be a little bit up in the clouds—that makes me a good songwriter maybe. But Dean has a more linear thought structure. He has great ideas, good contacts, he’s a hard worker, a good business person and he gets things done. We communicate really well, too.”
“And Julie is an incredible singer,” Mueller says. “She’s got a powerful stage presence, and the audience always loves her. From a songwriting standpoint, she’s super creative. Working with her has empowered me to write more on my own, too.”
Many of the standout tracks on I Loved You So embody this collaborative spirit. There’s the countrified trio of “Frame It on the Wall,” “Flannel Shirt” and “Daddy,” the hypnotic rockabilly vignettes of “Turn the Key,” and the heartbreaking yet silver-lined gospel-blues of “Read Through Tears,” which Mueller began writing in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre, and finished as more horrific mass shootings unfolded at a country-music festival in Las Vegas, a church in Texas, and a high school in Parkland, Fla. The song would ultimately become a tribute to the anti-gun-violence March for Our Lives.
“It’s a difficult song, and at first it was really hard to sing,” Amici says. “Dean was voicing his grief, but I thought we needed to add a little hope to it, too. I didn’t want the song to be divisive or to draw lines, either. I wanted it to bring people together, to shed a little light.”
“It really turned the song around when Julie added the verse, ‘Burn no bridges, draw no lines in the sand / Build no walls, draw no lines in the sand / Walk with me in the light, take me by the hand.’ You could see it progress from just being this deep anguish to, ‘What can we do about this?’ The answer is to turn away from hate.”
Julie & Dean use their music to make a positive impact whenever possible. This is achieved mostly through their work with nonprofit the Mudd Nick Foundation, United By Music and their own Fly Me to the Moon project. With Mudd Nick, they’ve secured grants for or an Oregon school district, bringing expert musical-enrichment workshops to geographically isolated and economically deprived students, who then get to perform professionally alongside their teachers. Similarly, with United By Music, they offer autistic adults a chance to perform music in front of an audience. And with Fly Me to the Moon, Julie & Dean bring the joy of live music to entertainment-starved senior centers. Their song “Blind Beulah,” from I Loved You So, was inspired by this work, for which they were honored with the Cascade Blues Association’s Back What You Believe In Award last year.
“Any way that we can give back to the community is very meaningful to us,” Amici says. “Any way we can go beyond the typical ‘I’m performing in a club now’ approach. That’s great, but at some point you have to look at the bigger picture, and think, ‘How can we use the power of music to make a difference in the world?’”
Julie Amici & Dean Mueller’s I Loved You So is out April 10.
We wanted to thank the CBA for awarding Julie Amici & Dean Mueller the “Back What You Believe In” award. This award is given to a group or individual who has gone above and beyond to demonstrate a commitment to the blues community. There are so many people deserving of this award in the musical community and we thank them all for their dedication to this wonderful musical family. We are honored to accept this award and dedicate it to last year’s winner Steve Pringle. Be good humans everybody, it matters.
Mueller and Amici began the Music Mondays series in 2014, booking local talent. The series now attracts national touring acts for the weekly concerts. The series is frequently sold out and draws music lovers from beyond the Lake Oswego area.
Mueller and Amici have also been nominated for CBA’s George Page Award, “Back What You Believe In.” The award is given to a group or individual who has gone above and beyond to demonstrate a commitment to the blues community.
Mueller and Amici are deeply committed to bring high-quality music to underserve populations around the state. Through their work as artists and producers they have developed a network of musicians to reach those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the joy of live music.
To accomplish this they have developed the Fly Me to the Moon project, the Fire Mountain Musicfest, United by Music North America and Music Enrichment for Students.
Fly Me to the Moon: After experiencing firsthand the powerful impact live music has on seniors, Mueller and Amici founded Fly Me to the Moon, which provides opportunities for seniors to enjoy professional live music at retirement communities, assisted living and memory care facilities and adult community centers. In association with the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, the group raises funds to ensure the quality of the shows and provide fair wages for musicians. The growing list of artists who participate includes top musicians from the blues community.
Fire Mountain Musicfest: Held for the first time this year, Mueller and Amici organized the Fire Mountain Musicfest in cooperation with the Cannon Beach Arts Association (CBAA). With events at Cannon Beach, Nehalem and Manzanita, the musicfest featured more than 10 performances and several guitar workshops. The festival was created to help bridge the gap between the underserved coastal communities and some of Portland’s top musical talent including Curtis Salgado, Alan Hager, 3 Leg Torso, Dean Mueller and Julie Amici, LaRhonda Steele, Carlton Jackson, Brooks Robertson, Doug Smith and Mojo Holler.
The 10-day festival served as a benefit to support arts and arts education on Oregon’s north coast, specifically for Fly Me to the Moon and CBAA.
United by Music North America (UBMNA): Amici and Mueller have been working with UBMNA since 2014. The group is a unified performance-based program and band for both neurodiverse and neuro-typical people with exceptional musical talent. As a mentor with the Portland group, led by Amanda Gresham and Dave Fleschner, Amici rehearses and performs regularly with the UBMNA band.
Music Enrichment for Students: This year Amici spearheaded a program with the Mudd-Nick Foundation to create a Music Enrichment Program to serve students in the Neah-Kah-Nie School District on the north Oregon coast. Building upon the existing music program in the district, Amici’s work with the foundation includes sourcing grants, offering workshops and music clinics, and providing supplemental live music experiences for the students.
Regarding their nomination for the “Back What you Believe Award,” Mueller said “There is no shortage of need and we are grateful to be part of this hard-working and generous family of musicians in the Pacific Northwest.”
The 2019 Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards event will take place Nov. 6 at Alberta Rose Theater in Portland. For tickets and other information visit cascadebluesassociation.org.
Julie Amici & Dean Mueller have been nominated for two awards by the Cascade Blues Association for 2019! The “Back What You Believe In” Award for their dedicated work in keeping the blues alive, and “Best Blues Venue” Award for their Music Monday Series at Lake Theater & Cafe.
The 31st annual Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards is already one of the most anticipated dates of the year for the city’s blues community. The ceremony will take place Wednesday November 6th 2019 at 6pm at the Alberta Rose Theater and will announce award recipients then. For more information visit https://cascadebluesassociation.org/. You do not have to be a member to attend the ceremony. Hope to see you there!
We just sent our artwork and tracks out for our second CD. It contains 11 original songs and we can’t wait to share it with you!
On Monday, July 22, Julie Amici and Dean Mueller will deliver a live sneak peak of new songs from their upcoming album for Music Monday at the Lake Theater & Cafe in Lake Oswego. The event will showcase original music from their second studio album that is scheduled for release in early 2020.
The album features eleven original songs, many of which they wrote to present for the Cascade Blues Association at the 2018 International Blues Challenge. The duo went on to win the Best Solo/Duo category in 2018, and carried the songs to Memphis, TN representing the Cascade Blues Association.
The tracks offer an eclectic, cross-genre journey into the couple’s past and present lives. “We’re so proud to finally give birth to these songs that represent the range and depth of our sound,” said Dean Mueller. The collection takes its listener through a cohesive, yet diverse, display of stories that highlight Julie’s uniquely pure vocals and Dean’s keen sense of rhythm and blues.
The July 22 show at the Lake Theater & Cafe is open to all ages. Doors open at 6:00; the show starts at 7:00. Advance ticket purchase is recommended at the Lake Theater Website.
Celebrated NW musicians come together for one night
On Sunday, May 19, four of Portland’s most beloved musical acts will take the stage to raise money for Fly Me To The Moon, a new nonprofit organization that delivers live music performances to seniors in assisted living, retirement communities, and memory care facilities.
Organization founder and producer, Dean Mueller, hopes to raise funds and create awareness of the program this concert. To showcase the music, Mueller selected to host the show at the newly renovated Alberta Abbey, a community arts center in NE Portland. The lineup includes the Duffy Bishop Band, 3 Leg Torso, Aaron Meyer, and Julie Amici.
THE MUSIC The first set will feature Portland’s own rock violinist Aaron Meyer, followed by the critically acclaimed 3 Leg Torso, an ensemble featuring original modern chamber music with wildly unique instrumentation. The second set opens with the award-winning Julie Amici, then the beloved electric blues powerhouse Duffy Bishop.
FLY ME TO THE MOON Fly Me To The Moon was formed in partnership with the Oregon Music Hall of Fame (OMHOF) in 2018. Its mission is to bring professional, high quality, affordable live music events to retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and memory care facilities. Mueller says the program is encountering an increasing demand as we have a deeper understanding of the effects of live music on the senior population.
“The scientific evidence supports what we have always suspected,” said Mueller, “ that music can stimulate feelings of joy and harmony in seniors.”
But for Mueller, it’s about more than science. In the many years he’s performed for seniors, he has seen the positive impact the music has on their emotional state.
“As a musician, it touches my heart,” he said. “When we play music they know, from the era of their youth, it clearly stimulates their memory and takes them to a sweeter place.”
SPONSORSHIP There are still opportunities to become a sponsor of this event. Any businesses or interested parties should email email@example.com