Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones
What’s It Gonna Take


By Bluebird
September 2013

Rhythm is the key to this whole recording. It never lets you stop swayin'. This is a team that harmonizes the guitar and harp in such a way that together they almost sound like a new instrument. The percussion section is steady with great timing to keep the listener on track, while some guitar solos are laid down to let Deming show off a bit. At the end of "What's It Gonna Take" you can hear a nice little nod to the early days of rock n roll, complete with crisp note blues licks and retro fade out.

Straight blues and low down relationship troubles are brought in to the fold with "Think Hard". Cutting you like a knife, the straight blues brings you in, with harp and bass playing off each other. Dennis Gruenling takes the Little Walter and George “Harmonica” Smith influences, and makes them his own, turning the song into a showcase of blues talent. At time 2:30 during this song, you can hear some banging and rattling among the players that makes you crave to see this act live.

"One Good Reason" has an absolutely joyous Sun Records echo and is one of those songs that you will play again and again, because you won't catch all that it has to say the first time around. "Peace and love, no hassle, that's all." They make it sound so elegant and simple, but really, a lot of coordination has gone in to this production if you listen to it carefully. A fan called the band, "TONE MONSTER" and that about says it all! The live video of this has Deming even saying, "Thank you very much baby, thank you thank you ..." (Has Elvis really left the building?)

"Poison Ivy" has a slow groove and some bungee rhythms, with fun, snarky lyrics that spread like the pervasive weed, which bears its name.

"Every For An Eye" is a straight blues shot to traditional Muddy Waters/Little Walter/Albert King sounds. You Born Under A Bad Sign? That's ok, Doug Deming's got an answer for ya.

I enjoyed "I Want You To Be My Baby" very much. First, it is not too often that you hear blues, jazz, jive and scat in the same track - done well. How fast can Doug Deming sing? Try to follow along his perfect pronunciation in these lyrics and then hear Dennis Gruenling match him in speed. Meanwhile, the percussion team is right there, keeping the pace for the whole song, which never lets up. The call and response from the band are great fun and keep the long term spark of jump blues, bringing it into contemporary music.

The blues can't get down and dirt-ier than leading with Anthony Smith's harp on a Delta toned tune like "No Big Thrill". The back beat slowly, very slowly builds, Devin Neel shows great attunement to what each song needs by regulating the electric pulse of the Deming machine. There are times when you'd expect more of a guitar feature and instead, the pace runs on, leaving room for more of Smith's harp. If anyone has a problem with that, then they can go and argue over some "Down Home Blues," with James Cotton and Junior Wells.

Bass tones lead on "Stay Away" with a tone that is consistent through and through. It had an organ like hum to it, really interesting mix, yet was subdued and under the wire. "Lucky Charm" is equally elegant and features more harp.

"A Pretty Girl, (A Cadillac And Some Money)" is an unapologetic step back to an iconic time. "When you can hear the real instruments in music." The upright bass tones, harp and sparse, yet bright sound of the guitar set a perfect scenario for the harmony vocals. You can almost imagine them surrounding the same radio microphone, dressed in similar clothes on a live TV program. Devin Neel's drums skip perfectly complimenting the arrangement. The little improv at the end is a nice touch and crosses over to the blues/soul side, welcome!

An all out haunt rocks, with the instrumental, "Bella's Boogie" - and world boogie it is with Doug Deming and The Jewel Tones.

This record is highly recommended to blues fans who want a good example of jazz, jump and early rock music samples. Their live show must be caught!

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