D.A. Foster has been singing professionally since he was 14 years old. Of all the genres of music he has covered, he loves singing the blues the most; the intricacy of the music and the connection to human feelings, touching people's souls is what gives him the mojo and drive to get out and perform. It's the foundation for all American popular music. D.A. likes to quote Muddy Waters – "the blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll." It's honest music. D.A. feels most comfortable singing the blues and perhaps his voice and personal history naturally rooted him into that comfort zone. Starting at 19 and during his 20's, he cut his teeth on the blues being one of the owners of the legendary R&B and jazz nightclub, a 1000-capacity road house, the Shaboo Inn from 1971-1982 in northeastern Connecticut.
D.A. credits Dick Waterman, who in 1972 managed Bonnie Raitt, Roomful of Blues, and Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, for developing Shaboo's audience in the beginning. It was Waterman who provided the Shaboo access for key finds in the blues world. He opened the door for the respect the club received because of the blues artists that he booked. For its time and secondary market location in the northeast, The Shaboo was on the same level as the other famous clubs in major markets like The Bottom Line in NYC, Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop in Boston, The Main Point in Philadelphia, and the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C.
The Shaboo hosted the blues greats by the week – Willie Dixon, Howlin" Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, James Cotton, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Taj Mahal, and the Kings – BB, Albert, Freddie – and the all-time Shaboo up and coming favorite, the gifted Bonnie Raitt. The Shaboo first presented all of these acts during the years '71 –'72, and continued throughout the decade.
Being an owner of the club, D.A. had special access to the blues legends and formed relationships. He remembers the great joy he received learning from them throughout their careers. They discovered his vocal talent and natural ability to sing the blues so they mentored him. They allowed him to cut his chops on stage with them throughout his 20's. It was like getting a doctorate degree in the blues by singing with the greats.
In 1979, he formed his own band, the Shaboo AllStars. Matt Murphy was just coming off the Blue Brothers movie and the recording and had called D.A. from Los Angeles asking him what was going on. D.A. knew Matt while he was guitarist for the James Cotton Blues Band that had many nighttime performances at Shaboo and D.A. and Matt played golf together during the day. D.A. responded that Matt's timing was good as he was forming a band and needed a guitarist. Matt said he'd be there in three days. The Shaboo AllStars were born.
Touring 1980-1981 throughout the U.S., Foster credits Matt Murphy for launching his band with a license to work anywhere. That incarnation received rave notices from the New York Post, Daily News, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and from newspapers along the east coast to New Orleans with such headlines as, "Glorious AllStar Blues", "Playing Their Own, The AllStars are a Hit". At the end of '81, the Band needed a break and Matt Murphy went out to tour on his own.
D.A. had accomplished an 11-year run with the Shaboo Inn, and it closed in 1982. D.A. formed new chemistry for the Shaboo AllStars, performing throughout New England and New York from 1982-1987, while being a talent buyer on behalf of booking agencies in Boston and Connecticut for theaters and large concert clubs throughout the area. D.A. knew he had to work to earn a living, as that's the way he was raised, while he continued his love of singing by leading the AllStars. D.A. notes how special those five years were having the legendary bassist, Harvey Brooks, play in his band. Harvey Brooks was probably on every record that changed the course of rock history – Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Seals & Crofts, Super Session were just a few of them. Harvey was one of the original members of the Electric Flag along with Mike Bloomfield, Barry Goldberg, Nick Gravenites and Buddy Miles that broke at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
So, in 1987 when Harvey Brooks invited D.A. to join him in Los Angeles as lead singer to replace Nick Gravenites in a remake of the Electric Flag along with Buddy Miles, Mike Finnigan, Kal David, and the Phenix Horns, D.A. was all in. Buddy Miles ended up choosing another direction which was a huge letdown for all. To get the wind back in the sails for the group, D.A. decided to take a shot and engage them to record a solo album, which became "What a Life", entitled after one of its swinging tunes written by Mike Finnigan. D.A. had saved for years to fulfill a dream of starting a recording career. He could only afford to pay the band and the studio. Fortunately, Paul Rothchild, the famous producer of all the Doors records, "The Rose" for Bette Midler, Janis Joplin, and countless others was so impressed with the band's personnel, he agreed to produce D.A. on spec which meant Rothchild controlled the record. The sessions were soulfully glorious. Several months after the sessions were completed, Paul was diagnosed with cancer and sadly passed away a short time later, his prolific career cut short. Mirroring a story often told in the music business, the masters of the record became enmeshed in his estate, there to languish for 22 years. Although this meant no record release and the blues would continue for D.A. Foster, a blessing of the time spent making music in Los Angeles was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Mike Finnigan.
After the "What a Life" record deal broke down, D.A. returned to Connecticut with his tale between his legs. He resumed working as a talent buyer and leading the Shaboo AllStars and soon would build a music production company. He knew because he was a vocalist, not a writer/composer or instrumentalist, he had to lead his own band to pursue his passion. The AllStars often opened for BB King in the Northeast and BB's band would use D.A.'s band equipment for their show following the AllStars. One time BB's manager had to hire another opener, but asked D.A. if BB could use D.A.'s instruments – they wanted to hire him for the backline equipment, not as the opener that night! In the early 90's, starting with one band truck and his own instruments, D.A. grew Shaboo Productions to service 1000's of artists and promoters by supplying musical instruments, the backline needed when musicians tour or have one-offs not carrying their own backline. It's been almost 25 years, and Shaboo Productions preserves a stellar reputation for its service and its quality of musical instrument rental inventory. Full concert productions services round out the client offerings. D.A. had found joy in another way to be a part of and give back to the music industry.
Throughout the '90's as he owned and operated Shaboo Productions, D.A. continued to enjoy leading the Shaboo AllStars, performing throughout the region. In 1999, D.A.'s Shaboo AllStars became a regular act at the Mohegan Sun Casino. During their third performance, several Mohegan Tribal chiefs came to see D.A. and the Band because they used to frequent and enjoy the great music at the Shaboo Inn back in the day. During the meet and greet after the show, D.A. thanked them for giving his band a good place to work and said jokingly, "You've been so nice to us, we feel like we should change the name to the Mohegan Sun AllStars." The chiefs asked if he was serious, and the next day they met with the President & CEO of the Casino, struck a multi-year contract to perform multiple dates annually, wearing the Mohegan Sun name.
Being the leader of the Mohegan Sun AllStars gave D.A. a respectable budget that allowed him to double the size of the band, to share the good fortune. It further enhanced the Band's reputation as a musician's band, and grew audience appeal and fan following. The most special part of the new contract for D.A. in 1999 was that he then was able to rekindle his musical working relationship with his good friend, Mike Finnigan. D.A. could afford to hire Mike when Mike's touring schedule permitted him to join the Mohegan Sun AllStars as a special guest at the casino and other venues. They could make great music together again.
In D.A.'s 35-plus year bandleader history, many notables have joined him on stage – Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Keith Richards, Dan Akroyd, Maceo Parker, Buddy Guy, Mike Finnigan, Kal David, …. And he has supported dates with Ray Charles, James Brown, Delbert McClinton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Etta James, Elvin Bishop, Joe Cocker, Robert Cray, and a decades long supporting role on the road for BBKing, just to name a few. D.A. was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 from the Connecticut Blues Society and inducted into the Mohegan Sun Hall of Fame on June 15, 2013.
Looking back on D.A.'s life – his passion for singing, the joy given and received through entertaining audiences, owning a business that benefits his first loves, music and musicians - brings him forward to this time. He's accomplished multiple careers within the music industry as a club owner, talent buyer, bandleader, owner of a production company. For D.A., his greatest joy comes when singing the blues and playing with fine musician friends. His journey and those whom he has respected and cared for over the years brought him to "The Real Thing". Simply put, he wanted to make and share a great blues record and now he could do it. He is thankful for the opportunity to have Mike Finnigan and Tony Braunagel co-produce this record featuring the phenomenal, Grammy-winning Phantom Blues Band and a few other very special people. He hopes to touch all listeners with the passion for the blues.