“Just The Blue Notes”
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Whenever I offer advice to bands competing in the International Blues Challenge the thing that is on top of my list is to stress the importance of networking. Sure winning is great but for the other ninety-eight percent of the bands involved, returning home with hundreds of representatives from the industry and new fans knowing about you, your band and your music – that is winning! As a matter of fact, it was Cory Luetjen’s networking skills that led to us meeting. As a mentoring session in which IBC participants got to mingle with various industry reps (of which I was one) came to an end, Cory – who was on a mission – politely and confidently introduced himself to as many of us as he could while handing out business cards and copies of his CD. I remember thinking to myself that if the music on this disc was on the same high level as this young man’s enthusiasm – and it is – that he’d have a bright future ahead. Well done, Cory!
The Traveling Blues Band consists of: Cory Luetjen on vocals and guitar; Deon McNeill on drums; Patrick Harrison on bass; Jonathan Link on saxophone; Glenn Bickel on B3 and keys; and special guest Dwight Martin on harmonica. “Just The Blue Notes” is the band’s second release, all eleven tracks were penned by Cory.
I’ve always been a firm believer that the two best ways to make an already good blues band much better are to add a saxophone or a keyboard. Cory did both, and on “Stop” – the disc’s opening track, that decision is immediately paying dividends. The chemistry Cory, Jonathan and Glenn share while collectively playing, then individually passing the lead around from the guitar, to the sax and to the B3, makes for one hell of a masterful musical presentation. Throw in the profound rhythm Deon and Patrick are pushing out and a raspy, early Johnny Lang sounding vocal delivery, and The Traveling Blues Band add up to one hell of well rounded group.
With the four piece rhythm section settling into a solid groove behind him, Cory takes “I’m Gonna Love You” and absolutely runs with it. It’s a nearly seven minute love ballad that’s kind of separated into two parts. Half of the song features Cory emotionally and passionately professing his love to his lady, while the the other half features him stepping out and crushing it on several relentless blues guitar outbursts.
On this humorous track, with Cory playfully singing about all the instruments his lady doesn’t like, as he mentions the ones that appear on the track, those players each take a quick (probably not to upset her) solo. On the other hand, when he claims that his baby is “Crazy About A Saxophone” Jonathan gets to light it up on several well done solos. Fun song.
“My baby left me all alone, turned my happy house into an empty home.
Broke my heart in two, and gave me these Same Old Blues”
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Cory’s emotional and heartfelt vocals have a way of transferring his pain right to the listener. When you talk about ‘selling the song’ Cory nailed that…..with a sledge hammer! By songs end I found myself hoping it wasn’t written from a real life experience. The musical accompaniment on the track could not have been more perfect. The stinging guitar leads, the solemn organ leads, the sensitive sax leads and the remorseful rhythm all made the hair on my arms stand up. Each and every time I replayed this song (and it was many) it gave me “The Same Old Blues” and each and every one of those times I swore I just listened to a song worthy of “Song Of the Year” in any blues competition.
Yeah, it’s a blues song but at least it’s a “Suitcase” Cory is hoping his clothes fit into and not a matchbox. This one has all the energy of high speed locomotive and that right there tells you that it’s a rhythm fueled smoker. Adding Dwight Martin’s skillful harp blowin’ to this one was an extra added boost.
The lyrics on “The Way You Move” are all about how turned on Cory gets watching his lady dance. That said, this smooth shuffle will have just about everyone in the place moving. This dance floor filler is highlighted by another phenomenal rhythm performance led by Deon and Glenn at disc’s best on drums and piano.
Apparently, Cory doesn’t know how thrilled I get while listening to a slow and low down blues song that happens to also be the longest track on the disc – because if he did, I think he would have actually pointed out in the jackets liner notes that this track was dedicated to me. Because of it’s length, Cory, Jonathan and Glenn all get to take extended guitar, sax and organ solos, and with Deon and Patrick in that precise rhythm groove mandated by a song like this, “Whiskey Drinking Woman” was nine minutes of pure blues bliss. The blues do not get any better than this!
If my enthusiasm thus far has not made it clear, let me come right out and say it – “This is a must have CD!” Cory Luetjen may be one of the best new vocalists; The Traveling Blues Band may be one of the best new blues bands; and “Just The Blue Notes” may be one of the best new releases; that I have heard in years.
To find out more about Cory Luetjen and the band; to purchase the CD; or to request a copy for airplay; just go to www.travelingbluesband.com. While you’re there, please tell Cory that the Blewzzman – his newest biggest fan – sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient