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Tone Uriza

Tony Uribe, aka Tone Uriza in Second Life, is a 48 year veteran of the Tucson, Arizona blues scene. He has developed his own eclectic style of blues, drawing from the traditional & contemporary blues styles of the last century. He's played in numerous bands in Tucson in his early years and in the summer of 1995, Tony started up the his own band, The Torpedoes. Over the last 26 years, he's had a number of stellar Tucson players do "Torpedo Duty", but there's always been a core sound. It's direct and heartfelt, soulful with a groove you could drive a truck through. In October of 1999, Tony was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame.   

In February of 2007 Tony joined the live musicians of Second Life.  In his sets, he uses his guitar and vocals, along with backing tracks produced by himself with his RL band, The Torpedoes. But whether it's real or virtual, Tony just loves to play the blues.

Jason:  Tone thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. You've had such a long career, its hard to know where to start, but I always wonder what motivates people to do what they do, so I need to ask what brought you to the Blues, and, more importantly, what has the Blues done for you, to stay at it for this long?

Tone: Wow, that’s a long story. So I grew up in a musical family. My dad, uncles, grandfather, and even my grandmother played guitar. My mom played piano and sang. Side note, my maternal grandfather played in the whore houses along the Arizona/Mexico border at the turn of the last century. So at nine years old I asked my dad for a guitar and I got a cool little Silvertone guitar from Sears. I still have that guitar. Anyway, one day I went to a CYO Fair the local catholic youth organization put on. There was this guy up on stage with a rock and roll band doing kind of an Elvis thing. He was good but when he got off stage he was mobbed by girls. I think that was my first real motivator. LMAO
But seriously, I started teaching myself by ear the rock of the day. Players like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Johnny Winters, Chuck Berry, Peter Green, Mike Bloomfield, and players like that. Well, when I would read articles on them they would always credit the masters they learned from. Guys like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Magic Sam, John Lee Hooker, Albert King. So I started listening to them. But in the mid-70s I heard a record called Hard Again, Johnny Winters and Muddy Waters doing all of Muddy’s old hits. Man that album hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew then that I had found a genre that spoke to me and that  I could speak through. If that makes any sense. LOL

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Jason:  With all you were doing out in the real world, what made you come to SL and play here? 

Tone: In 2006 things had slowed down for me and the band as far as places to play. Blues had lost popularity in the main venues here and the last place I had a regular weekly set of shows changed hands and eventually closed due to poor new management. A friend of mine that had left Tucson because of the lack of gigs moved to California. One day he sent a mass emailing to all his musician contacts that he had a club, and we could all come and see him perform in it. I was intrigued. All he gave in the mailing was the link to Second Life. He said we would have to join but that it was free and easy. To be honest we are at the age where most of our peers had no idea how to use a computer much less a virtual reality. I am a digital electronics tech since 1976. I worked for a corporation for 12 years. So, I jumped right in and being a casual gamer, it was a breeze. I showed up at my friend’s club and blew him away. His SL name is Kyle Beltran and his club is called Meatspace. He taught me how to stream, and I was performing in his club the next week. I joined in early 2007. I have been doing it ever since almost exclusively. Being retired from it in real life it has been a god send for me.
 

Jason:  You have opened for and backed up many of Blues' best including Albert Collins, Koko Taylor, Son Seals, Otis Rush, Mose Allison and John Lee Hooker, to name a few, and I understand you became friends with Albert Collins. How did that come about? 

Tone: In 1983 my band started playing in a small club here in Tucson called Terry & Zeke’s. Terry Glassman had moved here from Chicago with his mother who needed the dry climate here. Terry opened up a club with his friend Zeke that year. Terry’s father had been a booking agent in Chicago so when he opened Terry & Zeke’s his intention was to bring the blues to Tucson. There had already been a blues resurgence going on in Tucson with myself and local players so Terry decided to organize and promote with his connections. He and some of us that were into the blues started the first Blues Society here in Tucson. And I was playing there weekly with my band. Well, out of the blue (pun intended) he tells me he has booked Robert Cray Band and he wanted me to provide sound and run the board. I did not know who he was at the time but he assured me he was a great blues player. New to the circuit. Needless to say, it blew me away. Well, the next show was with Albert Collins. While I was setting up in the afternoon Albert came in and we met. Terry introduced us and said Albert needs to be at the radio station to promote the show so finish setting up and drive him down there. He was the nicest dude! On the way back from the radio station he asks me if I want to get up and play with him tonight. He had a killer band, but he got me up for one and it was one of the most inspiring moments I ever had playing. He was the one that inspired me to walk out in the crowd while playing a solo. I used a wireless setup but he used a hundred foot cable that a valet had to reel in and reel out for him as he moved. Hell, he even went outside and stopped traffic on Speedway. It was amazing. Well after that I was the house sound tech and I opened up with my own band for some of the shows. The list is a who's who of blues players that were still touring at that time. I ran sound for John Cale from Velvet Underground, most of the founding members of Canned Heat including Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, and Fito de la Parra, Mose Allison, Otis Rush, Son Seals, Gatemouth Brown, The Legendary Blues Band with Pinetop Perkins, Koko Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, to name a few. 
Whew! 
So I met my heroes just being in the right place at the right time. Which as it turned out for me, Tucson, AZ. I also worked with a sound company that did a show with Buddy Guy. I was assigned to him as kinda of like his guitar tech for the night.
But the proudest moment I had was when my band was asked by the Tucson Blues Society to back up Homesick James. There is a picture on the wall of my club, Blues Seduction of me in real life with Homesick on stage together.

 

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Jason:  I know you've been a busy guy lately, but during your sets you've also mentioned you had a very challenging setback.  Would you care to share what happened and how it has affected you and your schedule? 


Tone: I always ran my own bands. Even as a kid I would put together some guys to play for younger kid’s birthday parties. My mom would have to drive me around to my gigs. LOL 
So all my life I would do all the work. Book the band, move the equipment, and do all the setups myself. There came a time where that took a toll on me and I had to quit performing in real life to take care of health issues. So far I have had both knees replaced, a fusion in my neck, a hernia operation, carpal tunnel surgery, and the recent back surgery for a bulging disc that left me paralyzed from the chest down. It was a success, but recovery has been really hard. So, I am not able to play at my full schedule yet. It is a surgery that takes a long time to recover from and I won’t see for a year if I’ll recover fully. 

Jason: During your sets you like to give us background on the tunes you play, where they come from and so on.  It's like you have a mission to go forth and spread the word of The Blues.  What advice would you give to an up and coming artist in how to approach the Blues and make it their own, yet remain true to its roots and respect the long traditions that are so much a part of it? 

Tone: My advice is listening to all the greats and not so greats and learn how to feel the blues. Sometimes that takes just living life. But I have to say, the young players now have a wealth of instruction on the Internet. Which can help a lot. But you want to take the feelings and concepts and make them your own. And never ever forget where the blues came from. There are plenty of books in the library that can educate one on where they came from. The more you know. 😊

Jason:  Since the appearance of Covid it seems like the live music scene in SL has exploded with many rl musicians using the medium to try to keep the wolf from the door and remain on everyone's radar. Do you think this trend will continue after things return to a semblance of normality?

Tone: I am not sure because SL had a boom and things went well for a long time then the Lindens made changes that the community did not care for, so a lot of folks left. I am hoping that this time in quarantine has reminded the members of how much fun and special it can be, and we can keep it going regardless of the Lindens.

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Jason:  On a personal note, I have met your lovely "Significant Other", Jezabel, and I have noticed that you both care for each other very much. You have also been together for a long time, over 11 years!. That's like a lifetime in SL terms.  Is there anything you could relate that might let us in on how you have achieved this level of personal success?

Tone:  Jez and I started out as casual friends. But the more we hung out together the more we realized how much we think alike. We started texting things that the other was about to text and that sort of thing. We also had both been with other SLer’s that turned out to be either not what or who they said they were. We realized that we were both exactly who we said we are in real life. So, I’d have to say total trust in who we both say we are. And we both share a love for the blues. We also found that when we can, we enjoy exploring SL together. And she has been a lot of help and support  for me. She's awesome. 

Jason: As we finish here today, I have to say that in all my dealings with you to date I have come away with a feeling of warmth and positivity, strength, and an impression that not much can keep you down for very long.  Any regrets?

Tone: Only one. I should have taken better care of my body! LMFAO
Seriously, when I was a kid the happiest moments I remember was when the whole family got together at my uncle’s house and we all played instruments and sang. I think that every time I perform, I am trying to recapture that feeling and that comes across to the audience.. 

Thank You Tone

Feb - Tony Slade

March - Krisie

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April - Ben Barker

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May - Hedy Patrucci

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Tone and Homesick James

Tone, Albert Collins and Coco Montoya