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Eric Gales has "Sumthin' " to offer with latest album

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Eric Gales doesn't want to "sound cocky." But after releasing his new album "Good For Sumthin' " around the same time he turned 40 in October, the Memphis-born guitarist, singer and bandleader feels like he's coming into his own.

"This is my best album of my life -- to me, at least," Gales says of the 12-song set, which was produced by good pal and Grammy Award winner Raphael Saadiq and features guest appearances by fellow guitarists Zakk Wylde and Eric Johnson. "I just feel like, pound for pound, this record has really good songs and it's up with the times. It contains some old genres and some nuances of newer stuff. I didn't sell out any of my guitar fans, but I think there's stuff on here that people who don't know me or my music will listen to and really enjoy."

Gales has certainly built a reputation since he released his first Eric Gales Band record in 1991, both with his own music and as a session player -- including vocals for rap groups such as Three 6 Mafia and Prophet Posse under the moniker Raw Dawg. He performed with Carlos Santana at the Woodstock '94 festival and has been part of the Experience Hendrix Tour posse, where his left-handed, upside-down guitar playing, just like Hendrix, makes him a crowd favorite.

On "Good For Sumthin'," meanwhile, Gales -- with lyrical help from his older brother Eugene and longtime collaborator Mike Varney -- also presents his most autobiographical music yet, singing freely about a hardscrabble life that's calmed considerably over the years with marriage (his wife LaDonna is a background singer in his band) and parenting a daughter and stepdaughter.

"I've had my share of being in trouble and going to jail and all of that stuff," Gales, who now resides in North Carolina, acknowledges, "but 20 years later I'm still here standing with a project out that I put my heart and soul into. I'm very proud of it. I know there's some folks who are waiting any day now to hear Eric Gales has finally passed away, but I'm not giving them that privilege. Even the album title says I must be good for somethin'."

And Gales is so enamored with the album that he plans to curtail his other projects -- including playing in Lauryn Hill's band and in the "supergroup" PGP with dUg Pinnick of King's X and the Mars Volta's Thomas Pridgen.

"My goal is to not do anything else but me," Gales explains. "I've devoted so much time to other things that I haven't been doing enough for myself. Everybody says that Eric Gales is one of the best in the world, which I consider one of the highest compliments, but I want more and more people to know about it and prove that these other people are right. That's what's firing me up now."

The Eric Gales Band and Big Al

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12.

Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.

Tickets are $15.

Call 248-858-9508 or visit www.atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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