Walter Trout drops the new Alive In Amsterdam while still out on the road for the Battle Scars Tour in the US and Europe, but the disc contains songs pulled from every era of Walter’s five-decade career. Walter has mesmerized guitar fans around the globe with his masterful phrases and unique style and is a three-time winner of the Overseas Artist Of The Year title at the British Blues Awards, and is also a three-time Blues Music Awards nominee. Walter is back and feeling strong after his major health issues almost ended not just his career but his life. He’s back out there ripping up on the road and now you can sample what you’ll get when you see him live.
Alexis P. Suter has been nominated twice for Blues Music Awards in the KoKo Taylor Vocalist of the year and Soul/Blues Vocalist categories. The Alexis P. Suter Band started winning fans as regular performers at Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble and have been wowing audiences at North American Roots and Blues festivals, events, and venues ever since. The intensity of this powerhouse band will continue to capture attention with All For Loving You, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Love The Way You Roll CD.
Jim Suhler ranks among the best of Texas’ guitar slingers like Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons and Stevie Ray Vaughan and is also a member of George Thorogood’s Destroyers. His previous Underworld Releases have been nominated for Blues Blast Music Awards. Live At The Kessler showcases Jim’s ferocious guitar skills, songwriting and his smooth vocals.
That Will Never Do is a live recording from May 2015 and is the first in long time to include John Primer’s own Real Deal Blues Band. The band features Melvin Smith on bass who played with both Koko Taylor and Lurrie Bell, Bill Lupkin on harmonica who played with all the Chicago greats, and Lenny Media on drums who played with the one and only Magic Slim.
Omar Coleman’s Live At Rosa’s Lounge showcases one of the funkiest Chicago Blues bands you’ll ever hear. If Willie Dixon wrote songs for the Meters it might get this funky. The rock and roll with intensity too and Omar’s powerful vocals and harp bring it all together.
Last this week is Sugar Me from Northwest sensation Sammy Eubanks. Sammy has won the Best Male Vocalist award 10 times in the state of Washington. He and the band have won multiple NW music awards and recognition including advancing to the semi-finals at the 2013 International Blues Challenge. Recorded in Nashville, Sugar Me highlights Sammy Eubanks vocal talents and includes guest appearance by Reese Wynans of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Guitarist Bob Britt who has played with Delbert McClinton.
Lots of great new releases this week; be sure to collect them all!
Damn it’s cold out there! Especially if you’re anywhere from Sweet Home Chicago eastward. It’s Hump Day and we all need a little warmth in our lives this wintery week to get us through. Thankfully, plenty of blues men and women have some suggestions for us.
Howlin’ Wolf offers his “300 Pounds Of Joy” to keep you warm. I’m guessing he’s not talking about slow cooking a side of beef, but meat is definitely being offered, if you know what I mean…
Alexis P. Suter has a few ideas to warm you up this winter. She explores them in her song “Big Mama.” “Big mama gonna play with you, big mama gonna see you through.” She cares. She wants to warm you up – up being the operative word. Candye Kane has similar thoughts. She knows you need a “Great Big Woman” this Hump Day to show you how to love. Your temperature is rising already isn’t it? At least, I think it’s your temperature.
Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows are looking for some heat, and ladies they want to you to keep your hot box burning. “Don’t Turn Your Heater Down” please, they need your heat all around them. Finally we have Joe Louis Walker agreeing with the ladies of the blues as he looks for a “Big Fine Woman” to warm his heart and other organs. That sounds dirty.
No matter what you’ve got, shake it, roll it, bump it, and hump it. It’s hump day after all!
Howlin’ Wolf Three Hundred Pounds of Joy
Alexis P. Suter Band Big Mama
Candye Kane Great Big Woman
Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows Don’t Turn Your Heater Down
The end of the 2014 is closing in and it’s been a great year for Blues fans. There was a ton of new albums this year. Some great debuts, terrific live albums, and a slew of interesting reissues. We at Blues Biscuits started this venture mid year and we’ve reviewed and covered a lot of great music since then. As most magazines do, we have compiled our list of favorite Blues CDs of 2014.
Our list is in no particular order, although I must say that for me, the album I keep playing over and over again this year is Dave & Phil Alvin’s Common Ground. It’s probably my favorite album this year in any genre. You can’t miss with these guys and their crack band covering Big Bill Broonzy. Phil & Dave singing and playing together is just as exhilarating as it was 35 years ago at the dawn of The Blasters’ career. If you didn’t get it yet, go get it right now or shoot an email to Santa and have him drop it in your stocking. If you already have it, you know what I’m talking about. Get a copy for all your roots and blues loving friends. You can find our review of the album here.
Thus, in no particular order, our 14 favorite Blues CDs of 2014:
Phil and Dave found Common Ground. Neither one wants to wear a pink bunny suit.
Whether it’s Jimmy Thackery playing music or Santa digging in his sack, the possibilities are Wide Open.
Time Is Coming for you to fill some stockings with this incredible album from Mato Nanji and Indigenous.
I’d gladly trade the 364 gifts from the 12 days of Christmas for one copy of Lucky 13.
When The Blues Came Callin’ Walter Trout sang loud for all to hear.
If you can’t decide on a last minute gift, TTB will help you with their Made Up Mind.
Gary Clark Jr. Live – This one will roast your chestnuts real good.
Santa kicks off his yearly ride with an Irish Tour. With all the raw energy in this deluxe box set, Santa will be done a little early this year.
While Santa is away, The Allman Brothers Band will Play. All Night.
Santa lets loose a Holler! every time he rides through the threshold of Hell!
What It Is is a F&#cking great album from a guy who looks a little bit like Burl Ives.
Don’t Call No Ambulance, just put the suit on and get in the sleigh.
You’ll find this in your stocking if you’ve been good, because Santa will Love The Way You Roll.
That’s it Biscuiteers, 14 CDs from 2014 we keep going back to more than the others.
There’s still a sleigh full of great music to explore from 2014. What were your favorites? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter @BluesBiscuits.
Happy Holidays everyone. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!!!
On Saturday November 15 marked the launch of the second season of the “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The Chandelier Lobby series will feature one performance per month beginning in November and run through April 2015. This year, Michael Cloeren, founder of the Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival and director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, will serve as emcee for each performance. Michael will be introducing the performers and conducting brief Q&A sessions with the artists. The setting is the intimate Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center, with soft lighting and general admission seating featuring some tables, soft cushioned benches, and other chairs. Every seat gets terrific sound and there are multiple opportunities to meet the artists.
Alexis P. Suter Band and special guest Norman Taylor kicked off the second season with hot sets of blues on a cold November night. Norman Taylor released his CD Blue Soulearlier this year and he performed several tracks from the disc for an appreciative crowd. Taylor later said he received his first standing ovation that night and it was well deserved. His powerful and deep voice resonated throughout the lobby and his intricate guitar picking provided depth for his one-man performance. Taylor is a throwback to the early days of Blues and traveling musicians. He is a lone musician with guitar and voice, using both to great effect as he entertains the crowd with originals, traditionals, spirituals, and popular covers. Mr. Taylor took a few steps out from under the blues umbrella and treated the audience to a plaintive version of Bobby Womack’s tale of urban struggle “Across 110th Street.” Mr. Taylor’s set, however, was the calm before the storm.
The Alexis P. Suter Band is Blues rockin’ force of nature and cannot be denied. Their new album Love The Way You Rollhas been on top of the charts since it came out last summer. The band has been touring around the East Coast, building their following one show at a time. Brothers Jimmy and Peter Bennett, on guitar and bass respectively, and drummer Ray Grappone is the power trio at the heart of the band. They work together like a well-oiled machine. A machine that takes full flight once Alexis P. Suter starts to sing. Back-up vocalist Vicki Bell provides the high harmony that keeps the music soaring. On the evening of November 15th, the band was joined by keyboardist extraordinaire John Ginty. Ginty and the band are old friends and he locked right into the APSB groove.
Alexis P. Suter Band covers a lot of ground in their live shows. They will take you up to the mountain top and kick your ass – in the best way possible of course! Alexis’ Gospel roots and message of love permeates the music yet the band still rips it up with Devil’s music riffs flying fast and furious. They presented many tunes from their hot new album Love The Way You Roll but it was the stunning, heart wrenching performance of “Let It Be” that left the crowd slack-jawed and dazed. Alexis’ mother had been ill for a while and concern for her mother came through crystal clear in her impassioned performance. Her voice cracked with emotion as Alexis belted out “Mother Mary comes to me!” toward the end of the songs. With tears in her eyes and love in her heart she took ownership of Sir Paul’s Beatles classic. This is her song now and she shares it, and herself, with the audience every time she sings it.
The night ended with the band’s trademark closer of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips.” Showing she is a woman of good humor, Alexis demonstrated the proper way to shake that booty. After an emotionally powerful set, it was a great way to cut loose and send everyone home smiling and in high spirits. The Alexis P. Suter Band is the real deal. Their original songs are compelling, the musicians give everything they have, and the smiles all across the stage let everyone know they’re music is a labor of love. If you love live music with heart, energy, and road-tested grit this is your band. Shake your hips on out to see them as soon as possible.
For more information about “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, PA visit their website at http://www.kirbycenter.org. The next act on the roster is Cabinet, who will play two nights – December 19th and 20th 2014.
It’s contest time again folks! You can win tickets to see Alexis P. Suter Band, and their special guest Norman Taylor, at FM Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA on November 15, 2014. To win a pair of tickets, describe the Love The Way You Roll album cover in ten words or less. The description with the most Likes by 11:59 Eastern Time Wednesday November 12, 2014 wins the tickets! Put your description in the comments below the post on our Facebook page, get all your friends and relatives to Like your entry and you could be at the show.
The cover of Love The Way You Roll is a distinct deviation from the usual Blues album cover and captures the imagination. There are layers of hidden visual treats, references, and in-jokes. Let your senses guide you to the best concise description (ten words or less!) you can come up with and share it with us. Click the image of the album cover for a high definition version so you can explore it’s hidden charms!
If you’re not familiar with the band, here they are with the tune “Big Mama” from Love The Way You Roll:
Back by popular demand, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts announces the return of its “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series, which will feature one performance per month beginning in November and running through April, 2015.
The latest lobby series kicks off on Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 pm with a very special performance from blues, baritone powerhouse Alexis P. Suter and her band.Fans will remember Suter and company from their roof-raising performance last year when they rocked the Kirby Center in support of Trombone Shorty. Since then, the band has released a new album, Love The Way You Roll, which has sat atop the Blues album charts for seven weeks and counting!In other words, get your tickets early!
Tickets to see the Alexis P. Suter Band go on sale this Friday, October 17 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at the Kirby Center Box Office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at (570) 826-1100.
This time around promises to be even more exciting, as Michael Cloeren , founder of the Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival and director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, will serve as emcee for each performance, introducing the performers and conducting brief Q-&-A sessions between the artists and their fans.
“Live from the Chandelier Lobby” once again features general admission seating, with an estimated capacity of 300 patrons.
Ticket Price: $20.00 (advance) | $25.00 (doors), plus fees
Last week was barren for new releases but there are several exciting new albums this week. Alexis P. Suter Band’s highly anticipated CD is out today. You can find our review of it here. There’s also a hot new live record from Chris O’Leary Band and an archival Louisiana Red release of a live show from Greece. This week boasts a bunch of releases from abroad, showing yet again the reach of pure honest music played by not-always-pure, mostly honest musicians! Blues truly is thriving outside the United States and you owe it to yourself to check out some International Blues.
PS: Paul Lamb’s website says his new CD came out June 16th. If that’s the case I’m sorry we missed it. It’s on the the list now and #thatsahotbiscuit !
I was looking for some pictures to commemorate Buddy’s Guy’s birthday and for Throwback Thursday on our Facebook page. I was led to a nice set of shots taken at Bluestock, the ill-fated festival in the Catskills that literally and figuratively took a bath thanks to Hurricane Irene striking far inland three years ago. The post led to a conversation on Facebook with ChefJimi Patricola and Chris Lyon, our ticket winner for Pennsylvania Blues Festival, and it got me thinking about that fateful weekend at Hunter Mountain in New York state.
So let’s get in the WABAC machine once again and revisit the one, and so far only, Bluestock…
Skies were blue and spirits were high on Friday afternoon as the first annual Bluestock festival kicked off with two time IBC winner Lionel Young and his band, but a sense of foreboding was palpable as attendees wondered what Sunday would bring as Irene left a wake of destruction in her path up the east coast.
No, Bluestock did not exactly happen as planned. Gregg Allman, Saturday’s scheduled headliner, had to cancel due to illness. Mysteriously, or perhaps enigmatically, Steven Seagal and his band Thunderbox (yes! this is a real thing) were no where to be found. Shemekia Copeland was a late addition to the lineup and Robert Cray was added as a headliner. Then the unexpected, unwanted guest arrived: Hurricane Irene. Producer Steve Simon probably never had an inkling that hurricane season could disrupt his monumental undertaking of combining the Blues Cruise with Woodstock. A hurricane? In the Catskills? Never. Well, think again.
By the end of Friday night, Sunday’s schedule had been scrapped and the festival, originally intended to take place outdoors, with two side-by-side stages for continuous music, was to be moved indoors on Saturday. Thankfully, Hunter Mountain Ski Resort had several halls to accommodate the indoor festival allowing them to keep the original plan of adjacent stages and continuous entertainment. To everyone’s surprise, the headliners Robert Cray and Buddy Guy were to play outdoors on Saturday afternoon and all the other acts that could make it would be playing indoors for a marathon thirteen hour show.
Of course, many were displeased by the turn of events and several angry customers shared their opinions on social media sites like Facebook. Some were angry about cancellations and many felt the festival should have been cancelled altogether. However, the majority of people gathered on the mountain thought the show must go on. And go on it did. Crammed into two days of music were nineteen acts featuring a veritable who’s-who of modern blues. Performers ranged from longtime favorites like Elvin Bishop, Tommy Castro & The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, Tab Benoit, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Shemekia Copeland to relatively newcomers Moreland & Arbuckle, Alexis P. Suter Band, Trampled Under Foot, and Port City Prophets to local favorites Bruce Katz Band and Chris O’Leary, who made a surprise appearance with Bob Margolin & Matt Hill (Matt now plays full time in his wife Nikki Hill‘s band).
While Saturday had illustrious acts seemingly every hour on the hour, Friday’s lineup was stellar in itself. The Lionel Young Band got the early birds moving with their leader’s guitar pickin’, fiddle pluckin’ boogies and a rollicking version of “Got My Mojo Working.” Literally moments after the closing notes of their set, Bob Margolin & Matt Hill continued the show on the adjacent stage allowing the crowd nary a second to catch its breath. Bob Margolin is a proven crowd pleaser but 2011 BMA Best New Artist winner Matt Hill stole the show with possibly the best AC/DC cover ever in “Hellz Bellz” – done Jerry Lee Lewis style, it was a nearly unrecognizable revved up rock n’ roller that would have left Malcolm and Angus Young drop-jawed and stupefied. Matt Hill then upped the ante with a song presumably called “Lemon Squeezer.” He sang about squeezing your lemons, woman, showed you his technique, bounded around the stage and removed his belt to whip you into submission. His infectious energy spread through the crowd and band. When Chris O’Leary came out to blow some harp it seemed the hurricane may have come early. They laid waste to preconceived notions of legendary jams when Lionel Young came out with his fiddle and joined the fray. This supergroup tore into another version of “Got My Mojo Working” that had the Catskill evergreens shimmying on the slopes.
The Bluestock crew kept the music going, operating like a well-oiled machine, getting BMA nominees Trampled Under Foot on stage just as the jam with Bob Margolin ended. The band appeared on many “best” lists in the last few years and it is immediately apparent why. This trio of siblings plays almost telepathically, locked in the groove and playing hard. Once their fiery set ended, the festival modeled after the Blues Cruise found ports of call in Louisiana with sets from Tab Benoit and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Benoit’s laid back delivery and sinewy grooves took us deep in the heart Cajun Country. Exuberant fans threw plush alligator hats to the band and Tab obliged by donning the cap while playing. His searing solos were hot as a raging skillet in a blackened shrimp contest, and were twice as tasty.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue took us from Benoit’s rural bayou to the Crescent City with an effervescent set full of New Orleans funk and jazz. Many concert goers later commented that the band seemed out place at a blues festival, but enjoyed them nonetheless. Blues and jazz are inextricably linked, born of similar circumstances and using the same musical language. It was a master stroke to remind the fans of this oft forgotten musical relationship and the powerful music of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue certainly had the crowd in the palm of its hand by the end of the set. Shorty’s passion and connection to his instruments was nearly tangible as he breathed life from the trombone and trumpet into the air around Hunter Mountain. The band was one of only a few selling their CDs for less than twenty dollars – theirs were merely ten – and I hope everyone who enjoyed the set took one home. A better value for ten bucks could not be found at the festival.
Friday’s closer Elvin Bishop took the stage and played a set roughly based on his recent CD “Raisin’ Hell Revue” recorded on one of the Blues Cruises. Unfortunately he told some of the same stories from the CD but his good humor helps overcome the familiarity. His guitar playing helps a little too. Well, it helps a lot. The jamming kicked up a notch when Tab Benoit joined Elvin Bishop and the band for a few songs to close out the set. They didn’t play “Got My Mojo Working” and I’m glad for that. After the first two acts of the day did it I was getting worried.
Due to a bizarre twist of weather-related fate, Saturday noon found Robert Cray on stage while the crew set up the opposite stage for Buddy Guy. Robert Cray and Buddy Guy, back to back, on a Saturday afternoon. It almost made you glad to be in the path of a hurricane. Cray’s smooth, soulful blues eased the bleary-eyed revelers into the day. Cray joked a few times about the bright sunlight and time of day but there was no detrimental effect on the music.
While Robert Cray’s set was somewhat laid back, Buddy Guy came out all guns blazing. If the hair of the dog didn’t cure your ills, trouble was coming your way at maximum volume and speed. Buddy’s amps must have been bought from Spinal Tap because he was definitely one louder than everyone else. He sang “74 Years Young” from his Living Proof album but played like the owner of 34 years young fingers. His passion, humor, stage antics and propensity to say “fuck” a lot certainly woke everyone up.
About halfway into his set, Buddy brought out 12 year old Quinn Sullivan who has been appearing with the Buddy Guy Band for a few years. Quinn has enormous talent and his technique is flawless, but unfortunately he’s at a stage of his musical life marked mostly by imitation, and Buddy let him dominate the rest of the set. Sullivan sang a few songs, but his pre-pubescent voice is too high and was washed out in the mix. Still, he is only twelve and will hopefully evolve into a powerful musical force in the next ten years or so. Buddy Guy believes in him and even quipped that he would certainly come back next year, but only if Quinn gets an invitation too. I say Quinn Sullivan should be invited, but give him his own set so we can get a full ninety minutes of Buddy Guy next time.
After Buddy Guy’s set, the festival moved indoors, just moments ahead of the rain. Recent concert tragedies from stages falling at the Indiana State Fair and the Ottawa Blues Fest surely had the promoters and crew concerned and they made short work of taking down the outdoor staging. Accommodations were also made to allow the campers to stay in the lodge on Saturday night. Steve Simon and crew put safety first making sure all attendees were protected.
Meanwhile, two stages were ready to go inside. One in a large auditorium style hall and the other in place for the late night jams with Mitch Woods, dubbed Club 88. Mitch hosts Club 88 on the Blues Cruises and usually persuades lingering musicians to join in the fun. Tucked in the corner of the lodge, the stage was like an eight ounce brisket sandwich with sixteen ounces of brisket on it; messy, over flowing, and finger licking good. The sky was crying but the blues lovers were smiling as the two stages provided continual music for the next eleven hours as the rain pounded the mountain outside.
Saturday’s indoor lineup was Shemekia Copeland, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Curtis Salgado, Bruce Katz Band, Shakura S’Aida, Moreland & Arbuckle, Tommy Castro & The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, Albert Cummings, Alexis P. Suter Band, and Port City Prophets. Every one who made it to the mountain played a set and then the music continued once more when Mitch Woods’ Club 88 re-opened for business with the Prince of Beale St. Billy Gibson at the microphone.
I must confess I’ve seen Shemekia Copeland three times this year. She played basically the same set each time and told the same stories. I suspect I’m spoiled by bands that vary their sets. Her band is tight and plays perfectly each time, which makes once a year enough for me. Ms. Copeland has a powerful voice and uses it well, but there are no surprises for repeat customers. If you haven’t heard her sing live though, I highly recommend it. No studio wizardry, and sometimes no microphone, is used but her tiny frame holds inside an immense musical force.
Ronnie Baker Brooks gave the guitar fans one long guitargasm after another and even soloed his way through the crowd to the bar for a drink and a bottle to play some slide. It’s not a new addition to the traditional trick bag, but it gets the crowds going every time. Curtis Salgado’s blue-eyed soul had the faithful swaying to the beat; Bruce Katz Band whipped up some Hammond B-3 blues with Alexis P. Suter’s guitarist Jimmy Bennett pulling double duty, playing and singing with Bruce. Shakura S’Aida’s vigorous vocalizing drew cheers and Moreland & Arbuckle literally and figuratively kicked everything up a notch with their guitar and harmonica led trio. They were asked to play a bit longer while Tommy Castro was setting up next door and the enthusiastic crowd response drove them to greater manic intensity. They even had the audacity to release their new album on vinyl, which was quite popular at the merchandise table.
The delay from getting Tommy Castro set up caused a schedule crunch and bands had to play simultaneously, dividing the attention of the Bluestock survivors but Tommy Castro & The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue held most of the focus once under way. They played an incendiary rendition of “Gotta Serve Somebody” before being joined by Rick Estrin, Deanna Bogart and others for a recreation of the legendary blues cruise’s favorite jams.
Albert Cummings took the stage with the rhythm section from Shakura S’Aida’s band – two guys he met a mere thirty minutes before going on – and they wowed the small crowd in front of the tiny Club 88 stage. The trio played seamlessly with Cummings’ molten licks flowing freely over the bedrock of bass and drums. Alexis P. Suter’s powerful, booming voice filled the auditorium and the band’s gospel infused blues surely added weight to those prayers for shelter from the storm pounding the Catskills. Port City Prophets, an upcoming band from South Carolina, played last on the Club 88 stage, mixing amusing originals with clever covers. They played a dynamic version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” in honor of the looming devastation that would be unleashed by morning.
And so, we had Bluestock 2011: One of the headliners cancelled, an MC was AWOL, minor acts hoping for major exposure were crammed into a ski lodge playing for hundreds instead of thousands, headliners opened the show, openers closed; all the signs of the Apocalypse were there. But the Apocalypse never came. The crowd was well behaved in the cramped space, everyone was happy to be there enjoying a seemingly endless variety of blues, and the producers, promoters, managers and musicians all pulled together to provide those who braved the weather the best possible experience. They came through with class and grace, deftly handling one dilemma after another making Bluestock 2011 an unforgettable weekend of music, friends and adventure. Although I’m already looking forward to the next Bluestock, strangely enough, the Simon brothers and the Bluestock crew will have a hard time topping it next year.
Alexis P. Suter is the owner of that big, booming voice you can hear roaring out of Brooklyn into the heart of the North American continent. The Alexis P. Suter Band’s star is certainly on the rise as accolades continue to pour in and they continue to beguile audiences from town to town. The band burst on to the music scene via Levon Helm’s legendary Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, NY. Levon was captured by what he called Alexis’ wonderful spirit and had the band open for him around 90 times.
By 2012, Alexis was nominated for Best Soul Blues Female Artist at the 33rd Annual Blues Music Awards. The band was known for its mix of Blues, Soul, and Gospel influences and continued to build momentum by releasing Two Sides in 2011 and taking the new music to the stage. Perhaps now more than ever the band is poised for a national and international break. Love The Way You Roll is the new album from Alexis P. Suter Band on American Showplace Music and it has all the hallmarks of a classic benchmark album.
“Nuthin’ In The World” drags us onto the boards with a hot jam filled with tasty guitar licks and is built on a churning riff with unexpected changes. The vocals are gritty and the harmonies are loose. This is a stage song and they captured it expertly. “25 Years” is about a significant other sitting in the jailhouse and it looks like they’ll be getting 25 years. It’s another tough barroom blues with a circular riff that accents the futility of waiting 25 years for some idiot who got pinched. Forget making the bail, Alexis, time to move on. If I have any real problem with this album it’s in this song. The words make no reference to unjust accusations or innocence, so the singer seems to weighing the pros and “cons” of waiting for this delinquent. Maybe it was murder and the victim really deserved it. I don’t know, but thinking about is distracting me.
Two songs later I’ve forgotten all about the jailbird and his bail because the John Lee Hooker boogie of “Big Mama” has me enthralled with its chunky riffs and elastic slide guitar. Jimmy Bennett is a helluva guitar player and his work fires just about every song on Love The Way You Roll. In fact, it may be Alexis’ name on the APSB freight train but the engine room is manned by the power trio of Bennett, Bennett & Grappone. The Bennett Brothers, Jimmy on guitar and Peter on bass, interact like they’ve been doing this since the womb. They were truly born to play together, never missing a move the other one makes. Drummer Ray Grappone and Peter Bennett lay down the groove like a heavy duty Rhythm and Blues machine on the verge of Rock and Roll. Jimmy Bennett knows how to write the thick sounding riffs a trio needs and his soloing ranges from passionately restrained to full blown psychedelic bluster. He uses a wide variety of implements from a wah-wah pedal to slide guitar and always has the right tool for the job. He is more than capable of over playing and hogging the spotlight with guitar wizardry but he doesn’t. That’s the mark of a master musician. His contributions, as well as Peter’s and Ray’s, make the whole sound better than the sum of its parts. They are a musical tandem, stretching and twisting in perfect synchrony, and they’re even better live. What was I complaining about again?
The title track “Love The Way You Roll” also features a snarling slide guitar with Alexis sounding imposing and almost evil. This perplexing juxtaposition of subject matter and musical presentation adds tension to the song and really makes it kick. “Gonna Love You” is a sultry slow burn with simmering organ added by journeyman extraordinaire John Ginty. Suter dives into this one and gives a provocative performance. Alexis is credited on only a few songs as a writer, and “Gonna Love You” is one of them, but whoever the author is, from Big Mama Thornton to ASPB vocalist Vicki Bell, Alexis has the innate ability to inhabit the songs and become their essence. Her delivery is impassioned, intense and inspired. Her range of emotions is palpable and she will take you along for the ride through the ups and downs, the joy, the sorrow, the anger; you’ll feel it all in your soul if your heart can take it.
Love The Way You Roll is the antidote to boring retreads of old blues styles. The band is tight, the songs are road-tested, and the energy of this emergent blues power sizzles through the speakers. Most of the songs on Love The Way You Roll are under four minutes and pack a lot of punch. The band hit ‘em hard and get out. The tracks are perfectly tailored, emphasizing all their strengths and any song on Love The Way You Roll could be pulled for airplay or to share with your friends and turn them on the Alexis P. Suter Band juggernaut. I hope the band really likes these songs because they will be playing them for a long time to come.
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