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Roadblock - Live Vibe @ BB King’s

6 tracks/20:10

Promising "Classic Licks - Fresh Vibe", this EP from Roadblock captures the band live on stage earlier this year at BB King’s in Orlando. The group consists of Rachelle Maurer on lead vocals, Steve Guerra on keyboards & vocals, JJ Jensen on guitar & vocals, Tom Nordin on drums & vocals and Jerry Waller on bass. The veteran group has steadily built a following by working the Orlando club scene and hosting area jam sessions.

The opening track, "She’ll Leave You Wantin’ More", rocks hard right from the start. Maurer’s got a strong, husky voice that has no problem being heard over the surging musical accompaniment that her band mates provide. Guerra lays down several rousing choruses on the organ before Jensen adds a taut guitar solo. The band dials the energy back a bit on "Moonlight Man", which gives Maurer a chance to showcase the impressive range of her voice. Jensen and Guerra once again provide brief but tasteful solos on their respective instruments.

\"Momma, Momma" slows down the pace and sports a sassy vocal from Maurer, who purrs, growls and shouts with conviction. The arrangement features Jensen on slide guitar. The weakest track on the disc is "Tell Me to Go". Maurer struggles to hit a few notes. Her performance falls flat despite strong support from the band.

If you ever wondered what Janis Joplin might have sounded like if she had taken a stab at Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love", be sure to listen to Roadblock’s version. Jensen opens the track with a nasty slide guitar riff before Maurer pulls out all the stops with a performance that certainly captures the attention of the audience. The disc closes with another classic, "The Weight", with the band providing nice harmonizing on the backing vocals. Maurer’s vocal packs a punch and easily rides the surging rhythm. She finishes with a flourish, hitting and holding several notes with ease.

This project shows that Roadblock is a dynamic live act - solid musicianship behind a powerhouse vocalist. They may not be doing anything particularly innovative but they play to their strengths, keeping the solos short and to the point while giving Maurer plenty of opportunities to showcase her vocal talent. Catch them live - they throw a great party !!!

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

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