Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps
Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 1
Blue Heart Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © 2021
Wondering exactly how long I’ve been reviewing Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps’ music, I took a peek at the archives section of our website and discovered that it had been February, 2008 since I did my first, and it was of “The Bottom Line” – the bands fifth release. Reminiscing a bit, here is how that one opened up:
The quality of music that has been sent to www.Mary4Music.com since the beginning of this year has been absolutely stellar. Therefore, it was just a matter of time before we’d be hearing from our first Blues Music Award Nominee, and that time is here. Having said that, let me now congratulate and wish the best of luck to TERESA JAMES, nominee for 2008 “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year”
Being at that event, it was also the first time I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa James and band/soul/life mate Terry Wilson. Fast forward some thirteen-and-a-half years later and here I am to say a few things about “Rose-Colored Glasses Vol 1”, the bands twelfth release. Along with a few long time members and some special Rhythm Tramps, the players on this project are: Teresa James on vocals, piano and Wurlitzer; Herman Matthews and Jay Bellerose on drums; Billy Watts on guitar and backing vocals; Kevin McKendree on B3 organ and piano; Darrell Leonard on horn arrangements and all brass; Paulie Cerra on baritone and tenor saxes; Terry Wilson on bass, backing vocals, slide guitar and guitars; Richard Millsap on percussion and backing vocals; Lucy Wilson on backing vocals; and featuring: Yates McKendree, Anson Funderburgh, Johnny Lee Schell, Dean Parks, Snuffy Watson and David Millsap on lead guitar; James Pennebaker on guitar; Nicki Bluhm on backing vocals; Lee Roy Parnell on bottleneck slide and lead guitar; and Michael Starr on violins, violas and cellos… Having read those names, some of you may already be wanting to go to the bands’ website to buy a copy, so go ahead while I continue…..
In addition to having co-produced “Rose-Colored Glasses Vol 1”, Teresa James and Terry Wilson also wrote and/or co-wrote all of the disc’s twelve tracks. Being Volume 1 leads me to believe that in the not so far future I’ll be back here telling you about subsequent volumes, but for now I’ll just tell you about some of my favorites from this one.
What do you get when you combine one of the blues genre’s most skillful guitarists – Anson Funderburgh, one of any genre’s most skillful keyboardists – Kevin McKendree, a monster bassist and drummer – Terry Wilson and Jay Bellerose, and a horn section worthy of being in any of those world class horn bands – Darrell Leonard and Paulie Cerra, to create an ensemble to back up a vocalist able to nail any style of song – Teresa James? The answer to that – which you all already know – can be heard while listening to “Takes One To Know One”.
Being able to say “I Got A Love That I Want to Hold On To” are words that everyone deserves to be able say during their lifetime. When you can, it will indeed be a wonderful feeling. Teresa can, and on this track she’s more than happy to tell you all about it. With the move inducing rhythm Terry and Jay are laying down on bass and drums and the tandem trumpet and sax leads of Darrell and Paulie, this is a sure dance floor filler.
Although I’ve not witnessed this first hand, I’ve seen enough of the classics that include a scene from a dimly lit, smoke filled cabaret featuring a glamorous doll in a sexy, form fitting outfit, softly and seductively singing jazzy ballads like “All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues”. That’s exactly where Teresa and the guys took me with this one. Backed by a soothing rhythm; with soft horn and piano support; gently jazzy guitar chords; and sultry trumpet highlights; Teresa, with her fabulous voice and vocal range, is nailing the part of the seductive jazz singer.
Had I not read this on the one sheet (thank you, Rick J. Bowen) I’d have not known that the title of this song ‘Wish It Into The Cornfield” – derived it’s name from an episode of the “Twilight Zone”. Combined with the songs melancholic lyrics and somewhat eerie music vibe, it kind of makes sense. It’s a song about a homeless vet – two words that when used in conjunction with each other turn this veterans stomach. That said, I appreciate The Rhythm Tramps adding light to the subject.
After the pandemic, or as Teresa so cleverly and truthfully says it – “Once The World Stops Ending”, she – like all of us – is looking to “get back into the swing of things”. That said, the band’s not waiting…..with a bit of a funky rhythm going on – this time with Herman on the drums and some extra added percussion from Richard; the horns blowing their usual heat; and Dean stepping in with a few sizzling guitar leads; they’re already in the swing of things.
With “Instrumentalist – Vocals” being a relatively new category added to the Blues Music Awards, the way Teresa’s belting ’em out on “Things Ain’t Like That” – as well as pretty much everything else she sings – this could very well be the category she gets her next nomination in. I know one ballot she’d be on if I were still a nominator. Belting out one of her best vocal performances on the same track that features maestros like Kevin McKendree and Lee Roy Parnell dazzling on the keyboards and slide guitar certainly bring the phrases “crème de la crème” to mind.
The excitement Teresa exudes on “When My Baby Comes Home” is quite similar to the pride she displayed while telling us “I got a love that I want to hold on to”. Hearing, feeling and sharing her heartfelt sincerity on this sentimental ballad, might just have you looking forward to that door opening, as well. Along with Teresa’s tender vocals, Lucy’s delicate backing vocals and Michael’s strings add to the songs romantic vibe. Very well done track.
Other tracks on this outstanding release are: “Show Me How You Do It”; the title track, “Rose-Colored Glasses”, “Everybody Everybody”; “Rise Together” and “Gimme Some Skin”.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient