Fire Note Says: Alive at The Deep Blues Fest is put together with perfection as every band here scratches that blues itch in its’ own special way.
Album Review: I thought reviewing my first compilation might be a challenge but, thank goodness that Alive at The Deep Blues Fest makes that so easy. You want rip snorting blues heft – they have that here, you want a Hendrix reborn – they also have that, and you want soulful tones of R & B and blues ballads – crazy as that sounds they have it here too. The Deep Blues Fest is a great interpretation of that raw, uninhibited sound of the 60’s and 70’s. The compilation was put together in the summer, live, over a 3 day, sold out period. The feeling here was to inspire the togetherness, camaraderie, and the communal spirit of the great fest of old, placing them as far away from some of the corporate sterility of the bigger fest that we know today. Damn, I wish I was there because the feeling that this music projects captures that feeling in spades.
Listening to this I’ve now learned who to watch and what to listen to, each band here is destined to do great things. Also, this was a great learning experience as I found out many things that I didn’t know, the most exciting being that Cincinnati’s own Buffalo Killers were bigger than I thought. At one point they opened for The Black Keys in 2008 as well as The Black Crowes in 2007 which is no surprise since lead vocalist Andrew Gabbard could compare to Chris Robinson with a swampy, delta drawl. The trio known as The Buffalo Killers, raised from the ashes of what used to be Thee Shams, creates songs with a mellow-down easy, bottomed out blues heft that made bands such as Cream so famous in the 60’s. “It’s A Shame(w/Mark Holder)” showcases this like none other, from the bottom up this song oozes with an authentic groovy heft that hard to come by these days, maybe even a touch of the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young classic “Ohio“, Mark Holder takes on harmonica duty and honks with the strength and pace of a blues locomotive.
Other artist highlights appear in the form of Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, with the song “There is a Bomb In Gilead” a gospel blues mold, that pours as smooth as liquid glass, but when Bains voice really starts to heat up it’s all belted from the throat and that’s the way it needs to be. One band to watch, Radio Moscow, shoots at you with a fantastic Hendrix reborn vibe, and the power of a Mississippi Queen, it all made apparent with the fantastic “Hold On Me”. Left Lane Cruiser isn’t anything to scoff at either. Please excuse my language but the only way to describe this band is in their rugged, shit kicking, riffs a plenty. These gentlemen take a 12 bar blues classic “Ramblin’ On My Mind” by Robert Johnson and turn it into a slide scorching, harmonica honking, blues extravaganza, it’s quite something to lay your ears on. Artist, Brian Olive brings a dark, jamming blues vibe to the album that more than earns his place here. John the Conqueror’s “Three More” give us an amped up, funky fuzz interpretation of the delta blues.
Rounding out the group is Henry’s Funeral Shoe with a Led Zep intensity and a texture of ZZ Top as these guys bring it fast and heavy. While it may sound as if Aled Clifford has the voice of Billy Gibbons, I’d like to take that one step further and go in more of a Lemmy Kilmister direction. “Be Your Own Invention/Stranger Dig” creates a slide opening so heavy and fuzzy that you think the guitar and slide have been pulled through a swamp. Yeah they riff sounds as if it had been pulled right out of classic Top track “La Grange”, but sometime a bit of familiarity can be appreciated. The track is a pure seven minutes of slide warping, blues spitting, booze swilling, ass-kickery that can put a smile on any blues man’s face.
So there you have it folks, Alive has put together something very great, the Alive label should be proud of all these artists that it has acquired. In a world where we can hear a lot of the blues coming from the garage, Alive puts something together that presents the application for many types of blues. I cannot think of anything negative to say about all this, every time I hear a song from the album it rocks just as hard as the first time. Now please excuse me as I’m going to now go root around on the Alive web site and find out what else I’ve been missing out on!
Key Tracks: “It’s A Shame” – Buffalo Killers w/ Mark Holder, “Hold On Me” – Radio Moscow, “24 Hour Blues” – Left Lane Cruiser
Artists With Similar Fire: Mountain / Cream / ZZ Top
Alive Natural Sound Records
-Reviewed by Christopher Tahy