Blues Caravan: Sue Foley, Deborah Coleman & Roxann

Blues Caravan: Sue Foley, Deborah Coleman & Roxann

Ruf Records RUF 1129

By Georgetown Fats
December 2007

“Too Many Cooks spoil the broth.” It is an old adage, but it is appropriate when discussing TimeBOMB. After the success of the 2005 two-disc release, Blues Guitar Women, Canadian Blues Artist Sue Foley teams up with contemporaries Deborah Coleman and Roxanne Potvin to show blues and blues rock is not an exclusive boys club.

With the opening chords of the instrumental “TimeBOMB”, the collaborators go for the throat with a full-on juke joint vibe. By swapping lead solos on this Foley written track, Potvin, Foley and Coleman are not reaching for the raucous blues rock sound. They clearly obtain it here, as this is the music written for high-speed summertime rides down the highway, or to back country bars with chicken wire covering the stage area.

In addition to great lead guitar solos, the shuffle-boogie piano played by Bruce McCabe demands attention. Following up this scotching instrumental, Potvin, Foley and Coleman take on the Naomi Neville track, “Hitting on Nothing.”

Unfortunately, this cover track misses the mark entirely. Itís a pedestrian cover version of a track made famous by Irma Thomas. Not only does Potvin lack the sass and verve to carry out this track, but she is dangerously close to being over mixed and drowned out by the outstanding Hammond B3 work of Mark Lickteig.

While I understand the desire to pay tribute to an artistís inspirations, sometimes covers are better left to the original artist.

Up next is Foley, on lead vocals for the track “So Far,” which she wrote. There is a country-roots feel to this piece, which features the phenomenal Bruce McCabe slamming the ivories in a busy fashion to the benefit of this tune. There are also some gratuitous guitar solos sprinkled throughout the tune, assumed to be Potvin, Foley and Coleman exchanging leads again. For what it is, a country-roots original, this is a strong track.

Coleman takes the lead vocals on the next track, a cover of James Brownís “Talkiní Loud & Saying Nothing.” To borrow a hook made famous by the late Great Godfather: “oh good gawd!” This is another track better left to the original artist.

Colemanís voice, though memorable, just does not possess the range to carry this track off. The backing vocals provided by Foley and Potvin also are not up to the challenge. Musical lore has it that James Brown, without the aid of listening to playback of tape for a performance, had the ability to assess fines for flubbed notes, missed entrances and missing the pulse of the song. After this cover of one of his classics, Brown will be adding a few more fines to the tally.

Next, Potvin is given the opportunity to shine with a recording of her own composition titled “Strong Enough to Hold You.” This original track is an emotionally charged ballad. The backing band is perfectly in sync, locking in the groove, allowing Potvinís vocals to soar. She isnít reinventing the wheel here, but when a solid formula works - and the artist processes Potvinís vocal chops - who cares about reinvention?

In fact, “Strong Enough to Hold You” and the other Potvin gem, “Get Up” are the true highlights of this project. “Get Up” features Potvinís smoky vocals through a song about not letting the troubles of life knock her down. Sure there are undertones of girl power, but it is a song any listener who has ever had to address stress and strife can relate to and identify with.

The remaining tracks are a mix of songs by the other contributors to the Blues Caravan, and another cover song (“In the Basement”) best left to the original performers. Blues podcast fans have been teased by selected tracks off of TimeBOMB for months. Respected blues aficionados such as Beardo from Bandana Blues (, Murphy from Murphyís Saloon (, and Dave Raven from Raven & The Blues (, have touted this track in a format appropriate. On a track-by-track basis as part of a podcast or radio show, this CD is a good representation of talented up-and-coming artists trying to make their way in a male dominated environment.

Sadly, for those few who listen to complete CDs, the disc will feel choppy and hard to distinguish between county-roots and contemporary blues. There is no doubt about the talent of all three artists, but the cover tracks would have been best left on the cutting room floor in exchange for other original tracks. TimeBomb, though an ambitious CD worthy of consideration for an iPOD permanently on shuffle, lacks the continuity of the 1998 Rounder Records release, Sing It, by Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson.

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