By KARA POUND
As the house band at Tempo Restaurant & Bar on Cathedral Place, the Bluez Dudez have built quite a following over the past year-and-a-half.
“We are packing the house every Tuesday night with the best blues show around, and it’s right here in the middle of quaint little St. Augustine,” says Tony Martin, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.
Nearly two years ago, Joseph Rozas, a Flagler Hospital physician practicing internal medicine, struck up a conversation with downtown establishment, Tempo Bar. The plan was for Rozas to put together a house band to play weekly gigs.
“I was looking for a blues musician to form a blues band and Tony Martin answered the ad,” explains Rozas of forming Bluez Dudez. “We started as a duo and kept getting more and more popular every Tuesday night. Eventually, about six months ago, we added a veteran to the band, bass player Jimbo Watson.”
Each member of the Bluez Dudez brings something unique to the band. Rozas was born in Cuba, the son of a classic pianist and Cuban radio folk musician. He played all over Spain in a blues band to help put himself through medical school and fine-tuned his skills on the keyboard, harmonica and saxophone.
Martin, who Rozas calls “an unbelievable slide guitar player,” has been gigging around St. Augustine for years performing solo and with groups like the River City Blues and The Troublemakers. Watson, the band’s most recent edition, has “played with just about everybody.”
“I think what has helped us a lot in having a big following was that we are more like a show,” says Rozas. “We not only play instruments, but we’re interactive with the audience — they sing along with the blues and the songs. … We do Chicago blues, Texas blues, we do the slow blues, fast blues.”
Bluez Dudez performs some of Martin’s original tunes as well as songs by musicians like Jimmy Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Cash. They play Tuesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. at Tempo Restaurant & Bar, 16 Cathedral Place, plus the occasional Saturday.