“The Devil May Care”
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © Feb. 2020
Two of the many reasons I enjoy doing these reviews are the pleasure I experience by getting to hear many new and very good bands before the rest of the world does and then on top of that, the additional pleasure of helping the rest of the world hear about them, as well. The newest of those bands is the Avey Grouws Band and yes indeed, they are very good, as well.
The Avey Grouws Band is Chris Avey on guitar and vocals; Jeni Grouws on vocals; Bryan West on drums; Randy Leasman on bass; and Nick Vasquez on keys. On “The Devil May Care” – the band’s debut release – they are joined by: Nolan Schroeder on sax; and Dan Meier on trumpet. The disc contains ten original tracks all penned by the bands’ namesakes.
On a most impressive opening track titled “Come And Get This Love”, the five piece ensemble wastes absolutely no time showcasing their individual and collective talents. Jeni quickly establishes the fact that with her angelic yet powerful voice, her broad range and just the right amount of attitude that she intends to be a force to be reckoned within the genre’s vocal arena: Chris’ cutting edge guitar skills validate him being compared by other reviewers to the likes of Coco Montoya, Tab Benoit and Robben Ford; Bryan and Randy have already made it very clear that their rhythm work will be repeatedly complimented; and Nick’s fantastically frenzied organ highlights sent me straight to Googling his name. Toss all this together and it adds up to one heck of a dance floor filling smoker.
On the title track – “The Devil May Care” – while the rhythm section is in just the right groove behind them, all the heat is coming from the forces behind the Avey Grouws band. In the battle of the scorching vocals versus the scorching guitar licks, the clear cut winner is the listener.
This track tells of how “Weary” that long drive home from being on the road can sometimes be. It’s one of the more relaxed songs of the lot and it allows the simple smoothness and pure beauty of Jeni’s voice to take center stage. Right there with her, starting off with a mellow acoustic guitar then switching over to some silky slide leads, we also get to hear the smoother side of Chris’ guitar skills. That, combined with Randy’s softened bass lines all combine for this being an absolutely beautiful performance.
Although “Dig What You Do” is indeed something I could easily say to the band, it’s actually the song’s title. It’s a flat out, fast paced boogie featuring Chris joining Jeni on a delightful duet that’s powered by a rollicking barrelhouse piano-led rhythm and rousing guitar leads.
Wow, the band does jazz too! I guess with “Two Days Off (And A Little Bit Of Liquor)” anything can happen. With the help of some outstanding saxophone and trumpet additions at the hands of Nolan and Dan, and a chorus line by well harmonized back up vocals, the Avey Grouws Jazz Ensemble is laying down one hell of a swingin’ shuffle.
To find out more about the Avey Grouws Band just go to www.aveygrouwsband.com and should you have not yet received your copy of “The Devil May Care” for airplay, please contact Betsie Brown at www.blindraccoon.com. Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, © 2020
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient