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Trampled Under Foot - Live at Notodden Blues Festival


7 tracks/49 minutes

Up until I got this disc to review, I had never listened to Trampled Under Foot. Somehow the trio of siblings from Kansas City had escaped my attention. I knew that they had won the 2008 International Blues Challenge and that Nick Schnebelen had won the Albert King Award as the best guitarist in that year’s competition. His bass-playing sister, Danielle, has been receiving praise for her vocal skills and brother Kris fills the chair behind the drum set.

It didn’t take long for this live set to convert me into a fan of this dynamic band. One listen to Nick’s blistering performance on Johnny Winter’s “Mean Old Town” will answer any questions you might have about his highly touted abilities as a guitar player. His yearning vocal and slide guitar work give the opening tune “Too Big To Carry”, a melancholy vibe.

Things heat up even more when Danielle uses her husky voice to strut her way through “Fog”, another band original tune with a grinding rhythm. The pace picks up a bit on “No! I Ain’t Gonna Let You Go” as Danielle shouts out her declaration of love with a powerful voice that makes it clear that she is in no mood for arguments. Kris supplies the propulsive beat on “Love My Baby” while Danielle’s big voice rings out over more impressive guitar work from Nick.

The spotlight shifts on “Johnny Cheat”, with Nick delivering a hard-edged vocal over a boogie beat as he tells the tale of the consequences of love and betrayal. Kris and Danielle get locked in tight on the rhythm while Nick unleashes several mesmerizing guitar solos. The band finishes up their set with another one of their tunes. “May I Be Excused” is a showcase for Danielle, singing in manner reminiscent of her favorite vocalist, Etta James. Nick’s solo hits the same intensity level as his sister, maintaining the energy that makes this the perfect tune to end the set.

The band learned about blues music from their parents, who were very active in the Kansas City blues scene. Recorded on July 31, 2009, this disc speaks volumes about how well the Schnebelen siblings learned their lessons. Throughout the disc you can hear the crowd shouting out their appreciation and encouragement. As good as their performance was that day, one has to wonder how the band has developed over the last two years. One thing for sure – I’ll be paying a lot more attention to the band in the future.

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

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