Fronted by brothers Dick and Dave Pruitt on bass and electric guitars, with Michael Cherry on drums, the Bel Airs play a danceable mix with an authentic but eclectic bluesy-country-soul-and-rock-n-roll sound influenced by the likes of Wilson Picket, Slim Harpo, Howlin’ Wolf and Johnny Cash.
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The Pruitt brothers’ harmony vocal style sets them apart in the contemporary music scene–leading one reviewer to refer to them as the “Everly Brothers of Blues”. David’s “big guitar” and Dick’s howling vocals over soulful, right-on rhythm playing make this trio a powerhouse.
Formed in 1981, the original incarnation of the Bel Airs included the Pruitt brothers, harp player Michael Henderson and drummer Pat O’Connor. In those days, rumor has it that in addition to playing guitar behind his head, little David Pruitt occasionally rode on Henderson’s shoulders at the end of an especially raucous set.
Back in the days of vinyl, the original four members of the band released the Bel Airs’ first recording NEED ME A CAR on Blind Pig Records in 1984. Later, Henderson moved to Nashville and played with the Snakes and toured with Mark Knopfler.
In 1991, the Bel Airs released DANGEROUS CURVES, recorded at Lou Whitney’s studio in Springfield, Missouri, as a trio. Later that year, when David moved temporarily to southern California, drummer Pat O’Connor left for Nashville as well, and in 1995, brothers Dick and David recruited Indianapolis native Michael Cherry, a veteran of the Paladins and the James Harman Band, to return to the midwest to take the helm of the rhythm section. The association has proven to be a fruitful one. The current line-up has been together over ten years, and has released two recordings. HOODOO PARTY (1999) was recorded in St. Louis and among the guest musicians featured is late-great pianist Johnnie Johnson, who emerged from Chuck Berry’s shadow during the 1990’s and often joined the Bel Airs on stage at St. Louis’ legendary Off Broadway.
Their most recent recording effort is GOT LOVE on Hightone Records. Recorded at The Studio with Lou Whitney in Springfield, GOT LOVE features the intensity of the live shows that loyal fans know and love, with guests Jimmy Carpenter on horn and Joe Terry on hammond organ adding depth and polish in just the right places.