Sweden - On May 27 and 28, 2005, Freddie Hughes and original members of The International Alpha Band, Chris Burns (Musical Director, Keyboardist) and Rich Kirch (Lead Guitar), were overwhelmingly acclaimed at the Mönsterås Blues Festival in Sweden, when they performed songs recorded on the CD "The Future Is Now".
Germany - The week of May 30 to June 5, 2005, Freddie Hughes has seen one of his dearest dreams come true with The International Alpha Band: His first visit to Germany where he performed with Chris Burns, Rich Kirch and German musicians, such as Chris Rannenberg (Pianist) whom they met when he performed around in the U.S. from the 1980's. The audience excitement during their performances in The LAGERHALLE in Osnabröck and The EN PASSANT Club in Berlin, Germany have inspired Freddie Hughes to hit the road again with The International Alpha Band.
California - U.S.A. As a guest singer for Billy C. Farlow's CD release parties at SWEETWATER in Mill Valley on June 18, 2005 and at BISCUITS & BLUES in San Francisco on July 6, 2005, Freddie Hughes' powerful rocking voice had put the audience on the clubs' dancing floors.
From the beginning...
When Freddie Hughes had lunch with Jeanne Doan on March 24, 2005, he solemnly stated in his conversation with her about his ongoing activities of his singing career: " Jeanne! Steve had really put me on the map...".
In fact, this present Website is the proof of Freddie Hughes' above-mentioned statement. Available for access since summer 2002, www.oklandmusic.com is dedicated to introduce Freddie Hughes' singing talents to the world as well as to the American public who does not know Freddie Hughes or does not know enough about his long journey and the quality of his singing.
The "Steve" that Freddie Hughes mentioned is Steve Heller, the Executive Producer of "The Future Is Now", the very first complete CD on which Freddie Hughes' singing voice was professionally recorded from the beginning to the end in a total of 14 songs (72 minutes length CD) and most importantly, for the first time, with a real complete music band, the International Alpha Band. Freddie Hughes pointed out this specific fact a few times, to Jeanne Doan, his Manager, when they worked on the recording of the CD "The Future Is Now" (June 2000 to March 2001).
Not long after the existence of this website, Jeanne Doan was contacted by Mr. Colin Dilnot from London, England who, after listening to the CD "The Future Is Now" (that he purchased through this website) offered to book Freddie Hughes and the International Alpha Band to perform at the Amsterdam Blues Festival in Holland in September 2003. In addition, Mr. Dilnot had also offered to help the distribution of the CD "The Future Is Now" in the United States and in Japan. But, at that time, Jeanne Doan was waiting for Freddie Hughes to make a choice on what path to take in pursuing his singing career. She had to leave Mr. Dilnot's kind offers pending, due to her respect for Freddie Hughes' freedom in handling his music life.
But as a connaisseur of American music and a true lover of Freddie Hughes' music, Colin Dilnot had facilitated the publishing of two articles on Freddie Hughes' music and his life stories, relating to his music career, in Juke Blues magazine, in its two consecutive issues No 53 and No 54 in early 2004. Freddie Hughes' picture, the one that was taken in January 2000 under the management of Jeanne Doan, as she had it printed on flyers to advertise Freddie Hughes' performances in Oakland, California, was on the front cover of Juke Blues Magazine No 54. And here it is:
In early 2003, Chapter I, the quadruple motown singers/dancers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who performed nightly in Sammy's Showroom at Harrah's Casino/Hotel in Reno, expressed to Jeanne Doan their desire to perform with the International Alpha Band as they fell in love with the sounds of the CD "The Future Is Now". John Stone III, the leader of Chapter I, said they wanted to record a new CD with the International Alpha Band as the CD "The Future Is Now" sounds better than their sold out CDs at that time ("MotorCity All Stars" Rhythm & Blues Revue).
Therefore, Jeanne Doan had made their first wish come true for once. Together with Art Brocke, the TV Producer of Channel 8, Roseville, California, Jeanne had realized a live TV show of Chapter I and the International Alpha Band on February 28, 2003.
In Spring 2003, Harrah's staff informed Jeanne that Harrah's had played the song "Freedom" from the CD "The Future Is Now" in the Casino.
This good news took Jeanne Doan's memory back to the day when Freddie Hughes and the International Alpha Band performed the song "Freedom" the first time, in May 2000. It was on stage at Garfield school in Oakland, for an international audience of Americans, refugees and immigrants from around the world, for the "Refugee Awareness Day" event. The band which played with Freddie Hughes since January 2000 had just changed its name from the "Alpha Band" to "The International Alpha Band".
On March 24, 2005, after Freddie Hughes said to Jeanne Doan that Steve Heller had really put him "on the map", he shared with her that Colin Dilnot had booked him and Chris Burns to perform in Sweden for one week, starting May 24, 2005.
Chris Burns is the Producer of the CD "The Future Is Now". He is Freddie Hughes' arranger for many years since the early 90's. Chris Burns is also the Musical Director of the International Alpha Band. He played the keyboard for all the songs recorded on the CD "The Future Is Now" and co-wrote many songs on this CD with Jeanne Doan and Freddie Hughes.
The CD "The Future Is Now" is the most meaningful result of Freddie Hughes' forty years of singing journey. It can be called historic and unique, besides its fantastic sounds from the beginning until the end. "The Future Is Now" is historic, because only after more than forty years of singing and working with a multitude of managers and producers, Freddie Hughes had to declare that Steve Heller had "put him on the map".
But as Freddie Hughes' life stories seem to repeat themselves for more than four decades, right after the completion of the CD "The Future Is Now", instead of using it as a pedestal to stand tall in his singing career, Freddie somehow got himself surrounded by vultures landing into his music world, trying to steal the fruits of hard works of his truly committed friends, who were there for him when he was "Broke And Hungry" (title of Freddie Hughes' original blues song, recorded in the CD "The Future Is Now"). If this unfortunate situation had not happened in summer 2001, Freddie Hughes and The International Alpha Band would be already worldwide acclaimed through the Amsterdam Blues Festival in 2003 for that Mr. Colin Dilnot had kindly offered to book them, through their manager Jeanne Doan.
Freddie Hughes' singing in the CD "The Future Is Now" has displayed the best part of his talents, experiences and soul, resulting from his forty years of singing, struggle and survival in the music career. But this CD could not be so soulful, so moving and exciting as well as spiritual without the excellent musical direction of Chris Burns and his dedicated good heart for Freddie Hughes.
In fact, without the professional inputs of Chris Burns (Producer), who worked side by side with Jeanne Doan (Manager), in recording studios, from the beginning (June 2000) to the completion of the project (April 2002), the CD "The Future Is Now" could not be finished with such outstanding sounds. When Jeanne Doan first considered the suggestion of Chris Burns: "Jeanne, if you really want to help Freddie Hughes in a long term, please have him record a good professional CD". Chris Burns' first estimate of the cost of the recording was U.S. $15,000.00. This was in May 2000, when Jeanne Doan invited Chris Burns for lunch on his birthday. During lunch, Jeanne showed Chris the song lyrics she just wrote a few days before, titled "The Invisible". After, he read it, he instantly put her song sheet in his briefcase. Jeanne had to ask him to give it back to her as she said: "I need to make some modifications to it". This incident had incited Jeanne to go into the CD project with Chris, on the behalf of Freddie Hughes, as Chris obviously liked her lyrics and they had previously discussed on putting the most of original songs on the CD as possible.
The recording started in June 2000 and had to be halted for a few months because the expenses for it went up to ten times more than Chris Burns' original estimate. With so much painful struggle and harsh negotiations, for three months, between Jeanne Doan, the Recording Manager and Steve Heller, the Executive Producer, and with Chris Burns' position that the CD should be a good product, the recording had to wait until September 2000 for additional investments from both Jeanne Doan and Steve Heller. Until March 2001, more and more money was invested. Only in April 2002, all the modification and mixing works were finalized. When Jeanne Doan got the master CD "The Future Is Now" in her hand from BellBoy Recording Studio, she realized that it cost as much as a five bedroom house in the Oakland hills by that time!
But Freddie Hughes was taken away from the International Alpha Band, Jeanne Doan and Steve Heller by some mysterious people in early summer 2001, right after Jeanne had Freddie pose for a series of pictures for selection to put on the front cover of the CD ! Jeanne could not find Freddie for gigs that she booked for him six months to a year ahead! Important gigs that gave him and the International Alpha Band fantastic exposure such as the yearly "One Root Festival" in Roseville, California, live music TV shows on TV Channel 8, in Roseville, California and regular gigs in the East Bay affluent area in Walnut Creek. Meanwhile, people in the music business in the Bay Area contacted Jeanne to tell her that Freddie Hughes "had screwed" her project.
Jeanne had many meetings with the members of the International Alpha Band and with Steve Heller on what to do next with the CD? Their opinons were not the same and mostly affected by their frustrations and some, by their anger, about Freddie Hughes' unreasonable disappearance. But in any case, the Band decided to stick together and to play the gigs that Jeanne already booked for them and Freddie Hughes, even without Freddie Hughes. In fact, all band members of the International Alpha Band really enjoyed performing together on a weekly basis since January 2000 and they were all very happy about the recording of the CD "The Future Is Now".
Chris Burns played keyboard and was the Musical Director of the International Alpha Band.
Rich Kirch who had intensely toured the U.S. and Europe as the guitarist and the Band Leader of John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Band, became the guitarist of the International Alpha Band.
Ron Perry, the bass player of John Lee Hooker's Coast to Coast Blues Band, played bass for the International Alpha Band. Ron has been touring with Susan Tedeschi since 2003.
Kelvin Dixon, one of the most in demand drummer / singer in the Bay Area, played drums and opened the gigs with songs for the International Alpha Band and Freddie Hughes.
Since Freddie Hughes' disappearance, the International Alpha Band stuck together and played with different well known Blues and Rock singers, such as Jimmy Mamou (at the "One Root Festival" in Fall 2001), Kathi McDonald (in many venues around the Bay Area, including the Haight Street Festival in San Francisco and live TV shows on TV Channel 8 in Roseville, California), Craig Horton ( in various East Bay venues) and with Chapter I (on live TV show on February 28, 2003).
Steve Heller and Jeanne Doan had waited for Freddie Hughes until spring 2002. All Band members of the International Alpha Band had very good groups to play with and tour with such as Chris Burns, touring with Maria Mauldour; Rich Kirch, touring with Kathi McDonald and Ron Perry touring with Susan Tedeschi. Without any contact from Freddie Hughes, Steve and Jeanne met with Chris Burns in March 2002. They came out together with the decision to have the CD "The Future Is Now" out on the market anyway. Steve and Chris suggested that Jeanne took charge of the finition of the product. Jeanne suggested that Chris help her to make the selection of songs to put on the CD as Freddie Hughes and The International Alpha Band had recorded together more songs than the 14 songs finally selected by Chris and Jeanne. In April 2002, Chris Burns,
The hardest part of Jeanne Doan's work in the whole process of realizing the CD "The Future Is Now" was the CD cover and its presentation. Besides all the administrative steps that she and Steve Heller had to fulfill, in order to comply with the legalities required by the music industry, Freddie Hughes' absence made the CD front cover a big issue that Steve and Jeanne had discussed for months. Rich Kirch, the lead guitar of the International Alpha Band, was a big help for Steve and Jeanne in contacts and the registration procedures with BMI. In mid summer 2002, as Freddie Hughes still did not show up on the scene to choose a picture of him for the CD front cover (from the series of his pictures already taken by Jeanne in Spring 2001, right after he finished his songs recording), Steve gave Jeanne carte blanche for the whole presentation of the CD. However, they both considered Chris Burns' input since the end of the songs recording, when Freddie Hughes was still around. Chris had suggested that no flowers should be shown with Freddie Hughes' picture, as for Chris, men are only surrounded by flowers at their funerals.
After weeks of waiting more for Freddie Hughes without good result, Jeanne chose to present the CD "The Future Is Now" according to the history of the recording and based on her best wishes for the future of Freddie Hughes' singing career as well as the future of all the wonderful musicians, whose fantastic sounds made this CD the one that Freddie Hughes never had before during his last four decades of singing. Accordingly, Jeanne had to tackle the task of designing the CD front cover, after a few discussions for inputs with her best Vietnamese friend, Mrs. Phan Thi Vinh. Year 2002 was the Year of the Horse according to the Vietnamese calendar. Horses represent vigor, endurance, advance, hard work, team play and success. Jeanne got permission from a well loved Chinese / Vietnamese painter, who lived in Sacramento, California to have the two horses from one of his paintings reproduced and modified to Jeanne's idea. They represent Steve Heller and Jeanne Doan through all their contributions for the CD "The Future Is Now".
The five shining stars, designed by Jeanne and placed above the two horses, represent Freddie Hughes, Chris Burns,
Rich Kirch, Ron Perry and Kelvin Dixon. Inside the CD cover, these five stars in the music world appear in their real pictures on the CD face while people listen to their enlightening sounds. Steve Heller made sure that Jeanne Doan's drawn stars look like the one drawn in the French novel book "Le Petit Prince" (beware the baobabs!). And the shining planet, on which the two horses run together, was Chris Burns' suggestion in one of his discussions with Jeanne about the front cover of the "Future Is Now" CD.
In summer 2002, Jeanne Doan was contacted several times by Michael Dancoff, who represented Blues Express in San Francisco to ask her to sell to Blues Express the master copy of the CD "The Future Is Now". Blues Express was not the only music business in the Bay Area who had contacted Jeanne Doan for this purpose. They all had tried to convince her that she would not be able to do anything with the CD without the singer of the CD. If so, WHY DID THEY WANT TO BUY THE MASTER COPY OF THE CD? Did they have the singer with them by that time? Were they the mysterious reason of Freddie Hughes' disappearance?
Just like one of the stars that represents him on the "Future Is Now" CD cover, Freddie Hughes disappeared and then reappeared in Jeanne Doan's sight. Sitting next to her in church, on Easter Monday, March 28, 2005 for the funeral services of the well-loved Bay Area songtress Beverly Watson, Freddie Hughes shed a lot of tears. This had caused Jeanne Doan to write a new song for Freddie Hughes to record whenever he and Chris Burns will be ready.
When Jeanne handed the CD "The Future Is Now" to Chris in late summer 2002, in front of Chris' house, he had a very mixed emotions look at the front cover and he said: "Jeanne, the International Alpha Band's name sounds like a dream..".
Yes, in that continuous dream, Freddie Hughes' singing voice sounds truthful, warm, sweet, strong, moving, spiritual and rocking anyone's soul who listens to it. A special dream, built up by a heartily and committed team, does have true sounds that people can listen to over and over again and get inspired.
On April 17, 2005, Freddie Hughes, Chris Burns, Rich Kirch and Ron Perry had a very happy and exciting reunion as they played together at 19 BROADWAY in Fairfax, in celebration of Rich Kirch's 50th birthday. More than ever, Freddie Hughes is convinced that The International Alpha Band and its associates are the only group of friends who are consistently backing him up in his singing career.