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Jeff Dale & the South Woodlawners - Blues From the South Side of My Soul

Pro Sho Bidness

11 tracks/37:54

Guitarist Jeff Dale grew up on the south side of Chicago and later relocated to California, where he was a member of the Blue Wave Band until 1988. After a lengthy absence from the music business, Dale is back at it with a new band composed of Rich Hyland on guitar & organ, Clark Pardee on drums, Geoff Mohan on harp, Mark Brown on piano, Peter Kastner on bass and Georgic Avenesian on guitar. Dale wrote all of the tracks and he handles the lead vocals.

The title cut starts the disc off with a strong boogie rhythm with Dale celebrating his old neighborhood with Mohan making a strong contribution on harp before Dale finishes the track with some distorted guitar licks. “Alabama Lovin’”is an up-tempo funky cut spiced by a horn section of Jim Jedeikin on sax and Lee Loughnane on trumpet. Anitra Castleberry adds backing vocals on “You Don’t Know Nothin’ About Chicago”, highlighted by solos from Mohan and Dale.

“Grown Ass Man” is a cautionary warning for younger women with a snarling vocal from Dale. Hyland fills out the arrangement with his organ part in support of more taut guitar work from Dale. The pace slows down on “I’d Hit It”, a shout-out to attractive women with Dale showing that he is an adept on slide guitar. “Big Gas Station” is a rocker with Jedeikin adding a rousing sax solo. The closing track, “Third Rail”, has a programmed rhythm track that detracts from an otherwise strong performance from Dale on slide guitar and vocal.

This band plays with lots of energy and enthusiasm. Dale has crafted a solid batch of original tunes,, which is a welcomed break from the usual covers of standard blues songs. The one issue with the disc is Dale’s singing, which might be an acquired taste for listeners. His gritty style works well on “Highway One” but he has a limited range and a voice that is ragged around the edges, which can be grating on the ears. Overall, this is a strong initial effort from a new band – and a welcomed return by Jeff Dale.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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