Roomful of Blues - Raisin’ A Ruckus
14 songs; 53:58 minutes; Splendid
Genre: Jump blues; Big Band jazz-blues, Swing, Rock and Roll, R&B,
How many bands have an absolutely perfect name?
Chalk up one for sure: Roomful of Blues. Not only does one get a
“room full” of sound, but a venue also gets a room full of players.
I can not think of another current blues band sporting as many as
Roomful of Blues was born in Westerly, Rhode
Island in 1967 when guitarist Duke Robillard and keyboardist Al
Copley combined. They soon began exploring the swinging, jumping
blues, R&B and jazz of the 1940s and 1950s, and added a dynamic horn
section including current longest running member Rich Lataille in
1970. Robillard and Copley eventually departed, and the band’s
membership has continued to change and evolve over the years with,
at least, 46 Roomful of Blues members (like Lou Ann Barton, Curtis
Salgado, and Sugar Ray Nocia) providing great musicianship. They
joined the Alligator label in 2003 with That’s Right, which
earned a Grammy nomination.
On a sad note, the second most tenured member
Bob Enos, trumpet, died in his sleep in his hotel room in Douglas,
Georgia, early Friday morning, January 11, 2008 of suspected heart
failure. He was 60. Bob passed just four days before the release of
their latest album, Raisin’ A Ruckus. Roomful had played the
Douglas Country Club the previous night. The band was on its way to
Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday to perform on The Legendary Blues
Cruise. Enos joined Roomful Of Blues in September, 1981. He appeared
on every album that Roomful made apart from its first three
releases, including the new CD. Roomful is continuing its current
tour with former band member John Wolfe taking Enos’s place.
Since 1977 and 15 albums, the group has earned
five Grammy Award nominations and a slew of other accolades,
including seven Blues Music Awards (with the nod for Blues Band of
the Year in 2005). With a non-stop performance and touring schedule
for almost 40 years, Roomful of Blues has earned critical, popular
and radio success and a legion of fans around the globe.
Currently an eight-piece unit led by guitarist
Chris Vachon, singer Dave Howard took over the singing duties in
2007, bringing his wonderfrully gritty and soulful vocals. New
members are bassist Dima Gorodetsky and drummer Ephraim Lowell
joining long-time members keyboardist Travis Colby, baritone and
tenor saxophonist Mark Earley, and tenor and alto saxophonist Rich
Raisin’ A Ruckus brings plenty of
variety to the table with originals and covers, opening with full
horns on “Every Dog Has His Day.” A catchy, upbeat horn-hook of
pom-pom---pumpa-pompa-pom kicks off with Vachon providing guitar
counter-point rhythm. 22 seconds in, they are joined by Howard’s
deep vocals over rat-a-tat drums and bottom organ and bass. At one
minute, the saxophone takes a 25 second solo followed by Vachon on a
15 second screaming guitar solo. The song only logs 2:39 in length,
but in that time hearts are jumping, and we get an idea what an
tight-and-right eight piece unit can do.
Guitar freaks fear not: “Round It Down” opens
with Chris Vachon on blazing six string as does “Solid Jam.” For
piano fans, how about some Travis Colby boogie woogie keyboards on
“Boogie Woogie Country Girl” written by Reginald Ashby and Doc Pomus.
Even Gorodetsky’s bass eventually gets a brief lead helping to open
the title track and taking a mid-song solo.
Some real fun is found on “Big Mamou” and the
Gary U.S. Bonds Rock and Roll classic, “New Orleans”. The good times
are infectious as the band members have arranged their parts to
coincide and complement each other and then join in on the “Hey,
hey-hey, now” chorus.
“Sweet Petite” and “Life Has Been Good” have a
sound right out of the Benny Goodman big band era, “sha doo be doop,
Roomful of Blues has once again excelled in recording their
variety-laden horn, and guitar, fueled music for audiences around
the world. Add their non-stop touring schedule, and
long-time fans and new converts alike can see for themselves why
this group consistently receives nominations and wins awards.
“Skyy Dobro” Walker
is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast
His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each
Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm
on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL