While attending the final live performance of Blind Billy & The Spectacles several years ago at a bar in Beverly, it was hard not to notice the girl in the audience that was “feelin’” the music rather than just listening to it all. It was my first chance to witness Gracie Curran in a live musical setting. In a room of wooden and rigid dancers Gracie seemed to be consuming the music deep into her soul and just going with the moment. I immediately suspected Gracie had consumed a few too many adult ice cubes to create this reaction. After a brief formal introduction by “Blind” Billy Mitchell in between sets and before she sat in for a few tunes with The Spectacles I had a chat with Curran; it was easy to see while Gracie is “a bit off” in the best way possible it wasn’t the ingested chemicals creating this ball of energy, it was the music.
And once that first note was sung it was clear Gracie’s had a natural ability to blend high energy and youthful exuberance with an old musical soul well beyond her years.
Over the years since the initial introduction I have harassed and harangued Gracie Curran, waiting for her first release. Curran’s repeated refrain had always been “be patient” or “it’ll happen when it is meant to happen” or other what I considered useless tautologies. I never really understood that within the ball of energy and the constant life of the party mentality Curran is also a strong musician/business woman. It took just one complete spin of Proof of Love for that epiphany.
From the opening strains of “Even with the Rain,” which starts with a brief vamp from guitarist and co-collaborator Tommy Carroll, even before the ROOMFUL OF BLUES horn section kicks in their parts, it is clear there is something different and something good going on with Proof of Love. Rather than being satisfied with churning out other measured and tired cover songs, Curran and company are more than happy to do the disk their own way. In a track co-written by drummer Derek John Bergman, when listening to “Even with the Rain” it is hard not to hear Curran pay homage to Koko Taylor or other Chicago greats without regurgitating their material.
On “Jack & MaryJane,” co-written by guitarist Tommy Carroll and supplemented by scorching baritone sax line from Mark Earley, Curran and the band bring the groove down to a nasty but still up-tempo groove while Curran howls about two of her favorite “food” groups. While the logos theme of “Jack & MaryJane” has been done before by many other, most notably Muddy Waters’ “Champagne and Reefer,” by pushing the metronome, Gracie & The High Falutin’ Band still create an outstanding original by understanding the delineation between “inspired” and “ripping off a previous cover song.”
Probably my favorite tune on Proof of Love has to be the somewhat dark “With Friends Like These.” Co-written with Geoff “Mr. Fabulous” Murfitt, unless you’ve lived within a monastery or under a rock for large swaths of time, it is hard not to identify those friends who continue to cause more trouble than they are worth in the grand scheme of things.
There is an awful to like on Proof of Love, but there is also an awful lot to like from Gracie Curran & The High Falutin’ Band live. Just make sure to bring your dancing shoes and keep hydrated as you're sure to get a cardio workout on the dance floor