In today’s stress-filled times, what’s not to like about music billed as “angst-free?”
We sat down, pre pandemic, to get the backstory from this McKinney-based two-man acoustic blues band. The self-deprecating duo of Duane Brown and Rudy Littrell form the core of this local favorite.
Interesting name for a band. How did that come about?
Duane: The E-Flat Porch Band began in 1996 when Rudy and I first met and began playing together on my front porch in historic McKinney, Texas. We noticed that the porch vibrated when Rudy strummed an E-flat chord on the bass, so we decided it was an E-flat porch! Interestingly, when the deteriorated porch boards were replaced with new lumber, the porch still resonated to E-flat. We don’t actually play any tunes in the key of E-flat, though.
Rudy: For a while the band also considered using the name “The Two Bald Guys.” During our first paid gig in downtown McKinney, the band played twice, billed once as the “E-Flat Porch Band” and once as “The Two Bald Guys.”
What is “angst-free acoustic” blues?
Duane: We take our music seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. We try not to increase anyone’s angst levels. We also provide angst-free stickers in case someone needs extra protection. Once, we sent a whole box of stickers to a band fan who was trying to counteract lots of angst in his large office!
You are based in McKinney, Texas. Where have your travels taken you?
Duane: We might live in McKinney, but will definitely travel! We’ve played throughout Texas, and also in neighboring states. We’ve been proud to bring the blues to many areas of the state, including Canadian, Clute, George West, Atlanta, Midland, Winedale and beyond.
What sort of venues have you played?
Duane: From libraries, schools, museums and churches to house concerts and weddings. We’ve even played for a memorial service.
Rudy: Our favorite venue is one where we have a listening (and adoring) audience.
Tell us about your albums.
Duane: We’ve produced four CDs: Porch Music, Pork Chop Night, No Unauthorized Play, and E-Flat Porch Band: Twenty Years. We are currently working on a new one.
What sort of responses have you received over the years?
Rudy: Responses to our traditional and original acoustic blues vary from mild disinterest to adoring fans. We’ve competed with trains for attention while playing outdoor gigs. We’ve traveled over 700 miles to Beeville for an audience of four, which included the sound tech!
One time, late at night we were returning from a gig in Dallas. An accident closed Highway 75. We pulled out our instruments and gave a free concert to the captive audience! We call that gig our Highway 75 Jam. Our fans are a varied lot and they have travelled to out-of-the-way places to hear us, including to Art, Texas and Christoval, Texas.
Duane: Our latest CD was named Best Self-Produced Blues Album by the Ozark Blues Society of Northwest Arkansas. We have been listed on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist Roster continuously since 2001. This is an honor and an opportunity to travel throughout the state to introduce the blues to a wide audience.
Name one fun thing most people would not know about you.
Rudy: We are adult prodigies!
If you didn’t do this, what other line of work would each of you have chosen in life?
Duane: It’s only recently that we’ve been focusing on the music full-time. Before we retired, I was an auditor and Rudy was an HVAC technician.
Cover photo courtesy E-Flat Porch Band
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.