There are bands that can play the blues and there are "blues bands." This upstart group from Southern California is the real deal. The 145th Street Deluxe Blues Band
is a powerhouse quintet, not only in musicianship, but also as fine writers.
Their debut album includes a generous portion of original material blended with four covers of vintage stuff. Their reading of Ray Charles' 1956 gem, "Mary Ann," is both exciting and original with some tasty rhythm changes and good bass work by Rollin Rodgers. The band covers Muddy Waters' "Walking Through The Park" in fiery style with a strong vocal and harp by Steve Bulger.
145th Street continues to impress with one of the finest versions of "Reconsider Baby" in this writer's memory. Everyone from Elvis to Eric Clapton to Roach Thompson covered the Lowell Fulson hit from 1954 but this band's treatment is really meaningful.
The Fulson tune is a winner but the meat of this CD is in the wonderful new pieces penned by the band members. Bassist, Rollin Rodgers, put his pen to paper and created "You Is So Mean." Rodgers captures the essence and evolution of the blues in a single piece of writing. Blues should tell a story with feeling and this song does exactly that.
Guitarist, Marc Marrewa, penned "Roll The Dice" and the burning "It'll Come To You." The latter is another favorite and features some fine guitar by the author and a cookin' solos from organist Mark "Doc" Holladay and harp-man Steve Bulger. D.J. Jackson offers crisp, intelligent drumming throughout the disc.
It's no surprise to this reviewer that the 145th Street Deluxe Blues Band has been chosen to open for B.B.King in San Diego on November 10th. They'll steal the show if they hit the audience with their tasty originals. Knock 'em dead guys!