1. Introduce us to the band! What are your names and what do you do in the band? Where do you call home?
Lionel WERNERT: Well, let me introduce you Lee O’Nell Blues Gang. I’m guitarist for more than 40 years now, and I decided to form my own band in 2019. Before that I used to play behind several arFsts and had a duet with the one who became my wife Gipsy BACUET in 2012. If you ask me why did I wait such a long Fme to form my band, I would answer you that I was waiFng for the good and the right voice . I founded it in the person of Gipsy. She has too many shades in her voice, she can be sweet or sassy, powerful and strength, or gravelly and jazzy too. I grew up in the 70’s so Rock bands legends like Deep purple, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin or Rainbow among others were what I listened to. You see: great and lyric guitars and beauFful voices. Then I studied the roots, the Blues listening and pracFcing Eric Clapton, BB King, Albert King, Peter Green, among others of course and more recently Eric Gales, Christone Kingfish Ingram or Joe Bonamassa for example.
Gipsy BACUET: I’m the female voice of the band and the song writer. I must add that Lionel is the only composer in Lee O’Nell Blues Gang. I came from classical piano and jazz. I’ve always loved Rock Blues, Soul… So I think Lionel thought it could be great to mow his own universe with mine.
Lionel: Exactly! And the Gang is composed by Philippe DANDRIMONT on bass, François BARISAUX on keyboards and Pierre-Alain DELAUNOY on drums.
Gipsy: And we are from France, a town called Reims, the capital of Champagne and where the French Kings were crowned in the Middle Ages. But Lionel won’t contradict me saying that for us, home is stage and studio while recording sessions !
2. How long have you been together as a band and how did you find each other?
Lionel: For my project, I didn’t wanted to lose more Fme, so I chose the best musicians in my area . They all came from different universes too. I enjoy when everyone can put something, his way to play with their own experiences together in the same direcFon. That’s why I chose them and it’s going on since 2019.
3. Do you have a special songwriAng recipe you follow?
Lionel: Absolutely not and yes at the same Fme ! The thing that is recurring is that I am the only composer and Gipsy the song writer. The guys listen what I want, which atmosphere I need, and they follow me in my direcFon.
Gipsy: So someFmes the lyrics came first and someFmes it’s the music. There is no ideal recipe you know. As we are a couple on stage and on the city, it’s easy for us to work on new songs. Always together means always working… We like that so much ! Even if Lionel is a kind of, no he is really an hyper-acFve person. You know what I mean !! Haha !
Lionel: The thing I enjoy is that Gipsy succeeds in wriFng lyrics with a sort of ambiguity. Always playing with the extremes and the opposites. I like that, and it allows me to play with different shades, with different styles (even if I don’t like to catalog music in styles). But for example, she wrote a song about my father, she sadly never met because he died many years before i met her. She talks about sadness, hope and how can a person miss a beloved one. But she did that without sadness or too much complaint. She wrote « welcome to the dance… » which is something you can hardly express talking especially about death. Well that inspires me to put a lihle of rumba in the music…
4. How would members of your family describe your music to someone that hasn’t heard it?
Gipsy: I think they are not the appropriate persons to talk about our music. We are their children so as parents can be, they may not be really objecFve.
Lionel: Yes, as family they are our first fans of course but… And if you ask to our own children, they will say that they like when we don’t play music or work on new songs at home !
Gipsy: Yes, it is to the point that when we made them listen the album that we had just receive aier months of work, studio, pracFce and wait, they barely heard it and said « that’s good, we know your songs, it’s not a new album for us! »
5. What do you have on your(SpoAfy) playlists you would be embarrassed for others to see?
Gipsy: « Take on me » by a-ha, an 80’s song , there is absolutely no guitar in this song , a lot of syntheFc keyboards and an electric drum ! But that songs makes me dance and gives me energy for the day when I need some !
Lionel: Another 80’s song : « Wonderful life » by Black. I love this song 6. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Lionel: Just check ma amps ! Some day, at the beginning of the band, we were for dinner before the show, and while this Fme, someone in the staff decided to change the place of the stairs to the stage access. And to do that , he leaned on my amps, and I really don’t know how he did, but he turned the volume next to the max , and he didn’t saw that when I took my guitar. Then, the song started with the drum, and when I did the first chord, it was, oh my God ! Since that day, I always check up my amps several Fmes before starFng the show !
Gipsy: I don’t have any rituals, just breathe and go !
Lionel: The guys eat sweets, there is one of them, and I won’t say which one (!!), which bring sweets on
stage with him. Gipsy and I think that it’s a kind of award !!
7. Who have you met that has leL you starstruck?
GIpsy: That is not exactly when I met her, but most of all when I dare to contact her. It was while the pandemic, while we were wriFng and composing our second album « This is us ». I dare to send an email to Jade MACRAE who is a fabulous Australian singer and also background vocalist for Joe Bonamassa. I relie love her work her way of singing etc… So I said all that by email, and asked her if she would agree to help me a lihle on the lyrics of one song. I Sent them to her, with the audio witness thinking that such an arFst would take the Fme to read, listen and answer a lihle franchie like me ! 2 days aier, she did it ! She added only few correcFons to the lyrics and complimented me on my way of wriFng and performing this Ftle.
Lionel: Mick Taylor… He was on stage in a lihle club , and while the break between the 2 sets, I went to him asking some Fps and other things about guitars, strings, amps. You know, a conversaFon between 22 guitarists when they meet each other . We drank a beer and he told me that he would invite me at the end of the show for a lihle jam during the encore ! That was wonderful, exciFng and a very good….. dream ! I woke up with the feeling I had played with him few minutes ago ! Haha !!! If only I could meet him, that would be fabulous.
8. What do you consider your greatest achievement as far as a band?
Lionel: PracFcing and studying guitar for so many years and finally get my 2 albums in my hands is for me the achievement , an accomplishment. I’m so proud because it’s the sum of all my years spent to work. An other achievement for a band I think it’s to be listened all over the world. It’s a trace of ourselves that we leave. Many people can listen your work.
Gipsy: Yes, thanks to radio shows, webzines or press our work can be revealed to the world. Last week we received an order from Canada ! It’s so graFfying to see that people like our universe and wish, even on the other side of the world, to get our album. Not only to download it, they want to have the object !
Lionel: I would also consider as the greatest achievement that people listening to the radio could say: « that’s Lee O’Nell Blues Gang, I recognize their style , and I like it ! »
9. What key elements do you believe makes up a successful song?
Lionel: A good riff, a great phrasing, a lihle of lyricism in the guitar solo, a unit touch and sound ad a dood melody.
Gipsy: And if the lyrics could be prehy interesFng that would be great too ! 10. When wriAng, how do you know when it is finally done?
Lionel: I know the song is done when I wake up in the morning with the song in my head. I know then that the riff is good, that the melody is ok , easy and obvious. When those 2 major factors are in my head as soon as I wake up, I know it’s ok and ready to be recorded.
Gipsy: It’s not easy to detach from the song on which I’m working. So I work on several at the same Fme giving me Fme to really do something else: housework, take care of the green plants, cook etc while Lionel is pracFcing and working on the studio tapes without vocal. When i enjoy this or that song he’s working on wondering to myself whose song is this, I know it’s ok, and the song is done for me.
11. What song of yours are you most proud of?
Lionel: Without any hesitaFon, « Never again » from our first album « Different Shades Of Love » released in Sept 2020. Gipsy wrote a song about violences made to women. It’s sadly a current social issue and this song is very important for us.
Gipsy: I wrote the lyrics yes, but Lionel did a fantasFc work on that song. He really succeeded in creaFng the atmosphere . Never over played, just bringing the exact dimension. But you’d beher listen to it much more than read !
12. Is it possible to be on the road and not eat junk food? How do you keep it leveled out?
Gipsy: As a maher of fact we all tried to keep a good way of living. I think that the myth of the band eaFng pizza and drinking beer on tour is no longer true. Staffs use to ask us for specific diets or not in the band. They are prehy ahenFve and considerate with bands…
Lionel: Except for the sweets and the Redbull while driving !! Gipsy: Hush !!!
13. Are you able to write while on the road or do you need a calm familiar space like home?
Gipsy: Definitely not ! I think I feed on the experience of the moment and it comes out later, but I do not write on tour.
Lionel: There is not enough space in the van for me to have my guitar in my hands, so no, me neither ! 14. What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen on stage or on tour?
Lionel: When all day long, you call the promoter Henri, whereas his name is Eric ! He didn’t ever blame me !
Gipsy: When saying « Good evening Lille ! » (a French city) and hearing the public say « Ouhhhhh ! We are Lyon! » (another city!) Oups !!
15. What can BleachBANGS do to help you in any way?
Gipsy: You are already doing a lot by offering us this interview to make us known to your readers, but if you had the contact of a booking agency in your area who would like to promote and book a French group like us, that would be nice !!
Lionel: May be you could organize a fesFval and invite us on stage !
16. How can everyone keep up with everything you have going on? Where can they get albums/
Gipsy: Well you can follow us, listen to us, see us , by our albums here: Web site : hhps://www.leeonellbluesgang.com
Youtube: hhps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU9bcdZ-UVh2_EM83NxyjFg SpoFfy: hhps://open.spoFfy.com/arFst/4uU0QwUeHcEk1e7tsANRjH Deezer: hhps://www.deezer.com/fr/arFst/107074722
17. provide a short bio:
Lee O’Nell Blues Gang is THE project of Vosges guitarist Lionel WERNERT accompanied by his singer and partner Gipsy BACUET.
Lionel is, as they say, “a child of rock”. Self-taught, it is with surprising ease that he takes you into his universe. And he has it under his feet to do battle with the genre! We find there the legendary groups that influenced his ado- lescence: Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy…. Connois- seurs will also recognize the masters of the Blues; those who brought the foundations: Peter Green, Albert King Eric Clapton among others … On the
playing side, we talk about fluidity, dexterity, a velvety sound when needed. A clever mix between vintage and modernity, the right balance between catchy riffs and hard-hitting solos that a flawless technique serves with de- light.
A perfect mix to accompany and highlight Gipsy’s personality and voice. Leaving classical piano lessons at the Troyes Conservatory quite early (11 years old), she nevertheless returned 10 years later to join the Jazz class led by the Jazz pianist Ludovic de Pressac. Remains of his various and numerous musical experiences (with even a flash passage on the side of the choirs in the mythical French group Satan Jockers), a soulful, serious, warm, powerful voice. Gipsy also knows her instrument, and knows how to be soft, sensual, sometimes fragile and delicate, but also powerful and ro- cky.
It was in 2012 and after having played together and separately in many groups and accompanied various artists (all styles combined) that Lionel and Gipsy decided to work as a duo on a Blues repertoire paying homage to those they particularly love: Gary Moore , BB. King, Fred Chapellier, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Etta James…
February 2019: Lionel and Gipsy are invited by Fred Chapellier (the well know french guitarist) to share a stage with him in order to play together some of his own titles.
To explain more, Lionel and Fred Chapellier are childhood friends! Lionel was only 4 years old when Fred from the height of his 7 years took him un- der his wing and has considered him as his little brother ever since. They grew up together, listened to the same vinyls, worked the guitar side by side and unfortunately lost sight of each other for too many years because life decided so… And then, reunion in 2017 and for both “brothers” time has for once not done its work, it’s as if they had never left each other.
It is therefore on stage alongside Fred (as before, but 30 years later!) that the desire to form a group again germinates very quickly in Lionel’s creative and overflowing spirit. He then brought together, in turn, the best musicians in the region to form Lee O’Nell Blues Gang…
Philippe DANDRIMONT (Bass) is self-taught and still accompanies many bluesmen on different European stages since 1984: Gerry Joe Weise, Fred Chapellier, Lorenzo Sanchez, Chris Bergson, Ellis Hooks, Mike Greene…
Pierre-Alain DELAUNOY (Drums), graduated from CMCN Nancy with spe- cial mention and congratulations from the jury, he studied with Alain Lecocq (Nino Ferrer), André Charlier, Franck Aghulon (Biréli Lagrène). He records and accompanies Fred Chapellier during the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee.
François BARISAUX (keyboards), graduated from the Reims Conservatory, he composes for various media at the international level. He creates va- rious shows (Jim Morisson, Billy Holiday) and is also an accompanist for silent films. He collaborated on the album “A tribute do Deep Purple” which he recorded with Air Jazz Quartet and obtained the recognition of Roger Glover for the occasion.