Right place, right time

Published 9:07 am Friday, March 7, 2014

Other jobs he found more fulfilling, even when he wasn’t actually creating music or art.

“It’s always been about how to not lose your artistic self and make a living,” he said.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he spent five years as a sales and marketing representative for Brenson Music Group, a large Christian music record label.

He met with musicians, arranged interviews and learned the business side of the music industry before leaving the position to spend more time with his family.

He later opened a gallery/coffee house attached to Joy’s Dance Company, which he operated for more than six years. Called Joy’s Christian Music and Coffee, the store featured live music, art exhibits and, of course, coffee and baked goods.

The coffee house attracted other artists and musicians, including Jack and George Dudley, who, with Bruce, are three of the five members of 2 Blu and the Lucky Stiffs, a Shelby County-based blues band.

“That’s pretty much how Bruce met his band, through our coffee shop,” Joy said.

Bruce and George have been performing together for more than 15 years now, both the band and their blues duo, 2 Blu. George writes music, plays guitar and provides vocals for the band, while Bruce plays harmonica and provides lead vocals.

“We pretty much have a mind meld,” Bruce said of their partnership.

Bruce is also a member of Alabama Blues Machine, a Birmingham-based, award-winning blues band.

All the while, Bruce found time to pursue painting and drawing. He has illustrated a few books, including “The Christmas Angel,” and “Toby the Turtle Who Can Sing.” He often exhibits at galleries in the Birmingham area, and describes his style as “impressionistic with tendencies toward realism.” Occasionally, his two passions will collide, as with a series of paintings he did featuring famous blues musicians.