The Love Light Orchestra

The Love Light Orchestra celebrates the Memphis big band blues style found on the 1950’s & 60’s singles of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, B.B. King and Herman ‘Junior’ Parker.

The band of seasoned Memphis musicians derives their name from Bland’s 1961 hit ‘Turn On Your Love Light.’


Their sound is completed with the soulful voice of bluesman John Nemeth. In addition to dipping into the catalogues of Buddy Ace, Freddie King, and Percy Mayfield, the band demonstrates their deftness with uptown blues via the solid originals ‘Singing For My Supper‘, ‘Lonesome and High‘, and the Ray Charles-inspired opener ‘See Why I Love You‘.


Casual fans of Memphis music might only recognize their cover of Al Green’s iconic Love and Happiness‘, but it’s reset here as a shuffle, building upon riffs that horn player, Marc Franklin, says was inspired by Charles Mingus‘ – ‘Fables of Faubus.’

The Love Light Orchestra’s overall sound, says Franklin, was inspired by Joe Scott whose work Franklin discovered after he was hired to play with Bland in the early ’90s.

“The first time I heard his work it sounded like Ellington, but more downhome, with extended harmonics that you don’t necessarily hear on blues or soul records.

It’s a jazz thing, throwing extra notes into the chords – at Stax, they didn’t do 6th chords.” Grammy-winning producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Brent Cobb, The Drive-By Truckers, and Corb Lund) cut the record live at the tiny DKDC bar in Memphis and recalls “It was more or less done after we cut it.

image of Matt Ross Spang
Matt Ross-Spang

This music is really supposed to be heard live, to be in the room to feel the horns, and it turned out magically – lightning in a bottle twelve times in just a couple hours.”

Video – What About Love

The Love Light Orchestra features two times Blues Music Award-winner John Nemeth on vocals.

photo of blues singer John Nemeth
John Nemeth

Nemeth says, “The Memphis sound of the ‘50s put in the sophistication with the horns, but it never lost that gritty aspect of the blues. And the spirituality in the vocals was tremendous—the melodies have such great movements, and the lyrical rhythms are perfect.”

Joe Restivo

The Love Light Orchestra band members are Joe Restivo on guitar, Tim Goodwin on bass, Earl Lowe (Bobby “Blue” Bland) on drums and Gerald Stephens on keys.

With the five-piece horn section being Marc Franklin, (The Bo-Keys, Robert Cray, Melissa Etheridge, Jim Lauderdale, Bobby “Blue” Bland), Scott Thompson, Art Edmaiston (Greg Allman, Bobby “Blue” Bland), Jason Yasinksy, and Kirk Smothers (Don Bryant, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy).

photo of Memphis Big Blues band The Love Light Orchestra
The Love Light Orchestra

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image of the album cover for Memphis Big Blues band the Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth
Album Cover

To check out the full album see below –