Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review: The Insomniacs at McCabes Tavern, Friday 9/8/2009

I've started periodically doing some reviews for our local paper, The Gazette. Thought I'd post the reviews here as well. This is the edited copy that ran at the Gazette website:

If you threw Fats Domino, Albert King and Junior Wells into a bag and seasoned it with everything in the cabinet like The Diamond’s version of the 50’s classic ”The Stroll” fame and Jerry Lee Lewis you might come up with something like The Insomniacs.

The Insomniacs – a nationally recognized up-and-coming blues band touring the country in support of their newest CD “At Least I’m Not With You” (April/2009, Delta Groove Productions) – brought their tight blues melange to Colorado Springs Friday night at McCabe’s Tavern on Tejon Street.

While there was a pretty low turn-out for what should have been a packed house, that didn’t stop the quartet of Vyasa Dodson on guitar, Dean Mueller on bass, Alex Shakeri on keys and Dave Melyan on drums from layin’ it down.

Opening with “Lonesome” off the new CD was a great way to loosen up both the band and the audience. This 12 bar blues shuffle with a great tempo got head and feet moving everywhere and gave the band a chance to open up and settle in.

Churning into “20/20” – a slower punchier blues number that would be totally at home in the Austin blues circuit with Shakeri’s groove slingin’ leslie organ underpinnings supporting Dodsons Albert King style riffing over top.

More songs of the new CD followed including “Description Blues”, “Maybe Sometime Later” and near the end of the first of their two sets, the title track from the new CD “At Least I’m Not With You”. “At Least I’m Not With You” is a great song when you hear the clips from the CD online at the Delta Groove web site, but it’s a totally awesome number live.

The band mixed it up with songs from their first CD “Left Coast Blues” (August/2007, Delta Groove Productions) and threw in some covers and a ballsy version of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” - which is one of those crowd pleasers that people love when they hear it, but The Insomniacs spin totally brought it forward a few decades.

The big surprise to me was Alex Shakeri on Keyboards and Harmonica. While Dodson is the songwriting powerhouse of the group based on everything you read (and certainly has his share of sweet riffs), Shakeri stole the show more than once with powerful blues harps riffs, pounding honky-tonk piano, and sweeping swinging organ accompaniment that left little doubt about his chops.

The Memphis based Blues Music Association gave The Insomniacs a nomination for Best New Artist Debut last year, and with songs showing up on Billboard and Living Blues Radio charts, this is an up and coming blues band with a lot of rubber left on the tires.

For more information on The Insomniacs, see here.

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