Jeff Fowlkes of Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise

Jeff Fowlkes of Robert Bradley's Blackwater SurpriseDetroit resident Jeff Fowlkes couldn’t be happier with his gig, Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise. He’s been touring with some of the biggest names in rock with RBBS (Dave Matthews Band, Allman Brothers, H.O.R.D.E.), he has plenty of calls to work with local artists, and probably most importantly, he’s got Kid Rock featured on the new RBBS album on RCA Records, Time To Discover.

“Kid Rock is an old buddy of ours,” Fowlkes says of his famous acquaintance. “He recorded at Mike and Andrew Nehra’s studio (bassist and guitarist of RBBS), and Robert did some singing on his record too.”

As for tracking Time To Discover, Fowlkes says the pace was easygoing, especially since the album was produced by his own bandmates. “I had four different drumkits all mixed up to choose from,” Fowlkes says. “I was like, ‘Well, I like this snare for this lower stuff and that bass drum for that other stuff.’ We’d just put on the headphones and start messing around with drum sounds.” Advertisement

The result is a brilliant collection of funky, modern blues-rock fusion that has Fowlkes putting his own unique push-pull on each track. In fact, it’s tough to tell that some of the songs were cut almost in their entirety without Fowlkes. “Sometimes they’d track to a tambourine,” he explains, “and I’d go back and lay the drums on after everything was recorded.”

But it’s apparent that Fowlkes would rather be on stage with RBBS’s big road show than in the studio. “There’s nothing like the sound of your bass drum in a stadium full of 35,000 people. When you can actually see the rhythm in the crowd, it’s pretty happening. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”