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Last Saturday, January 25th, Maria and I chose to stay close to home and make it an early night (as much as I'd like to spend all waking hours at The Oxford Saloon and other such fine blues-rockin' establishments, my early-morning work schedule tends to leave me not so awake many a night...), so I saw on my "Events" invites on Facebook that a band I'd never heard before was playing local (very local, maaayyybe two minutes drive-time) at the Port Gardner Bay Winery in Everett, WA. I'd been wanting to check out shows there, so...sure, why not?

Although guitarist/vocalist Jerry Peterson is on my "friends" list, I hadn't really had a chance to check out his band, The Black River Blues, prior to hearing them live at the winery... Their Facebook page stated that, "
We are the Black River Blues of Seattle, WA; playing the Cool-Rockin' Blues with a Downtown Bite!" -- so I had an idea they'd probably sound pretty cool.

Aside from some minor glitches with the mics at the start, the band was really, well, pretty cool. They laid down two-hours worth of music, BRB'd versions of blues classics ("Ain't No Sunshine," etc), as well as their own original tunes (which blended in very nicely, a compliment to the band: they know what sound they belong in). Playing along with Jerry are
Harold Wooten (Keyboards/vocals), Rocky Rossi (drums) and Guy Quintno (bass) -- very solid musicians, and they work very well together.

[If I have any of  the line-up wrong, please let me know -- I was going off the RN page for info and had not had a chance to meet the drummer or bassist at the show... The CD lists different people.]

Vocal duties are split up pretty evenly between Jerry and Harold, both complimenting each other and also owning their own styles
individually. I noticed that Harold tends to approach his vocals in a more laid-back, cool, smooooth fashion, with the occasional accent of a guttural growl, whereas Jerry seems to take a more gritty, more animated vocal approach, almost with a snarl and grin (like if Alice Cooper did blues -- more so, like in his early days). The way the two vocalists divided the set list, they also divided the songs equally on this demo-CD.

Before I get too far, Jerry referred to the CD as their demo, it's not a word I'm applying to it. It is a self-produced, self-manufactured disc, probably burned digitally off a computer dedicated to doing so. There are no frills in the packaging, although the cover looks pretty cool; this is the band's way of getting their music out to their audience at this time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Once it's in my car's CD player, it looks the same as any other disc. And for a self-made disc, it's produced rather well! Aside from the occasional level change between songs, which is minor, I didn't notice any hiccups.

As I mentioned, Jerry and Harold split the vocals on this seven-song disc, three each and a closing number; Harold's smooth vocals grace the odd numbers, whereas Jerry's gritty vibe takes the evens.
"Telephone Song," Harold's first, talks of missing a loved-one while being miles from home (he mentions overseas, so miiiiiiiles from home), track three is the funky, catchy, very fun "That Ain't Right," and he finishes his trio off with "Woke Up This Morning," a sobering tune about someone no longer there to wake up to... Jerry takes over on the second track, "Me," a pointed lyrical jab at anyone and everyone, that the only one he can rely on is himself -- definitely one people can relate to, especially if they'd been let down by others. "Going Out" deals with his "lady" stepping out on him, saying she's out with friend for "ladies night out," when in reality he thinks she's out with another guy -- and his reaction to his suspicions, and what he chooses to do about it (hey, I can't give away everything!). Jerry's last of three is "Help The Poor," which tends to lighten up on the previous grit-laced vocals in the other two ~ almost to those of a "crooner" (but not quite Sinatra); unlike the other two, this song pleads for the love of someone, that if they help the poor, perhaps they'll help poor me... A nice transition from the others, it shows Jerry's more sensitive writing style. The CD's closer is "Cantaloupe Island," an instrumental that flow beautifully, gently, and lets you hear how well the instruments blend well with each other.

I think this disc shows the bands potential very well, and seeing them perform live I know they are beyond what is laid down on these tracks. I look forward to hearing what they record next, and especially seeing them live again!

TSSutherland
1.30.14





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    TSSutherland

    TSSutherland is a lover of music that thumps, bumps, rocks & wails! An avid believer in supporting local arts, this page will feature reviews of NW Blues, Rock & Funk.

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    January 2014