ROOMFUL OF BLUES - Raisin' A Ruckus
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ROOMFUL OF BLUES – “Raisin’ A Ruckus” By Don DiMuccio January 9, 2008 There are some supposed “experts” of the New England readers, just think Austin Powers). However the record blues scene, who would never want to be put on the quickly auto-corrects with the Dave Howard original record mind you, that subscribe to the theory that it is of “Lower on Your List of Priorities”. Though first released little consequence who is in Roomful of Blues at any under Howard’s last musical incarnation The High given moment. And that’s not necessarily said in the Rollers, this updated version is a much-improved pejorative sense. Their consistent quality and repute has interpretation. The song truly lends itself to the never waned over their four-decade history throughout phenomenal horn section, which at this point Roomful various band lineups. Members have come and gone, could probably execute whilst in a semi-coma. Again, many of who have graduated to almost mythical stature it’s Howard’s proclivity for irreverence and self- – names like Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Porky Cohen, deprecation that sets his songs apart from the usual blues and Greg Piccolo immediately come to mind. But with faire: “I can’t seem to bring you back around, memories the 2007 hiring of local blues frontman extraordinnaire I can’t erase – you got me feeling so down, I’m a Dave Howard, there is something different in the air. sentimental mental case!” The band seems to be going through a rebirth; a truly well-overdue shot of adrenaline if you will. Their sound One of the cooler cover songs on “Raisin’ a Ruckus” is has a new assertive edge, perhaps not seen since the Roomful’s take on Smiley Lewis’ 1950’s romp “Big band’s lean primordial days. Although they were never Mamou”. The call-and-response between Dave and the short for good material, Dave brings to the table a wealth gang is awfully effective in creating a fun atmosphere, of self-penned tunes, that many bands would pay a and must be even more cogent in a live stage setting. On pretty-penny to record. Lucky for Roomful they now another cover “Boogie Woogie Country Girl”, the band have a hip and prolific in-house composer at the ready. pays tribute to the quintessential jump-swing-blues pioneer Big Joe Turner. More than simply removed To document the new lineup, Roomful of Blues has admirers of the man called “The World’s Greatest Blues released “Raisin’ A Ruckus”, a fourteen-track sojourn Shouter”, Roomful of Blues have had the honor of through the most effective grooves used within the backing up and recording with Big Joe in 1983, under swing and rock & roll idiom. Under the benevolent the production auspices of 50’s & 60’s songwriting leadership of guitarist Chris Vachon, the octet treats the legend Doc Pomus (“Turn Me Loose”, “Save The Last listener to jump-swing, roots rock & roll, and of course Dance For Me”, “This Magic Moment). Truly amazing rhythm & blues. All sounds herein are executed with the resume entries, no matter which way you look it. kind of exactitude one would expect from a band whose name is known from Rhode Island to Norway, and all Dipping back into Dave Howard’s songwriting well, points in between! “Sweet Petite” is four minutes of everything this new Roomful of Blues incarnation does best. The jump- Much out of step with the rest of the CD, the opening swing beat can only be described as infectious. And once track “Every Dog Has Its Day” is uncharacteristically again Howard’s knack for keeping the lyrics curt, corny for the powerhouse. Up until the vocals come catchy, and creative serves the song perfectly: “Sweet snarling in, one would swear they’re listening to petite you’re rolling round my sheets, and it looks like I incidental music played during some hippie party scene ain’t gonna get no sleep – I’m rolling in my sweet baby’s in a 1960s lark starring Michael Caine. (For our younger arms, I’m burning burning like a five-alarm – Swallowed up like Jonah in a whale, I’m romping like a cowboy on a trail.” One of the disc’s unexpected surprises is “While I Can”, a classy New Orleans style blues number written by guitarist Chris Vachon’s wife Bethie, who also duets with Dave on the vocals. More than just a blues singer, Bethie Vachon also demonstrates some very cool country undertones in her execution. To say there’s something for everybody on this CD is an absolute understatement. Going from the album’s namesake, the jazzy instrumental “Raisin’ a Ruckus” written by the band’s saxophonist Rich Lataille, to a pulled-back rendering of the Gary US Bonds smash hit “New Orleans”, Roomful of Blues continue to do what they’ve been doing since their inception – showing a versatility and exactness within a musical style than has all-too-often been bastardized over the years by less creditable outfits. They have long since crossed over the threshold from band to institution. I’m confident we will reconvene in 2027 to discuss a new Roomful of Blues CD, with yet another lineup, and all will be right with the state of roots rock & roll.