Grand Marquis

Grand Marquis
Blues and Trouble


By Lady K
February 2014

So, way back in January 2011, Lady K’s ‘virgin’ review with the Boston Blues Society was posted on the e-zine, and it was about Grand Marquis’ Hold On To Me. As luck would have it, Grand Marquis’ Blues and Trouble found its way into Lady K’s mailbox a while ago. What a fitting way to celebrate an anniversary!!!

Grand Marquis includes Brian Redmond (lead vocals, saxophone); Chad Boyston (trumpet); Ryan Wurtz (guitar); Ben Ruth (stand-up bass, sousaphone); Lisa McKenzie (drums, washboard) – all the same players from way back in January 2011!!! I liked the music then, I like the music now – no surprise there.

Out of Kansas City, Grand Marquis should only play in venues with big dance floors – they are a band made for the swing-dancers and ballroom-dancers of the world. They’ve got that big band sound made popular in the boogie-ing movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s – updated, yet basically timeless music – blues, jazz, jive, funk – all good, all perfectly arranged, all fun.

The introduction to “Bed of Nails” includes a riot of cool guitar and a rockin’ beat, with plenty of raucous slide guitar and sax. Once the band kicks in, the listener feels like a kid in a candy store; trying to absorb it all at once. And, “Bed of Nails” includes lyrics of regret about his treatment of his woman: “I built this bed one nail at a time, each time I hurt you / built it every time I lied / now I’m sleepin on a bed of nails.” “Reputation” is the best of the blues – slow and sexy. This is one of Lady K’s favorite tracks – “giving me the runaround only adds to my frustration, while I’m trying to perfect my reputation.”

Ruth’s bass takes the lead on the funky “Empire of Dirt” and the title tune, “Blues and Trouble.” “Empire” cautions us to “just remember it’s a natural fact, what you give you’re gonna get back, life ain’t all about pleasing number one.” “Blues and Trouble” is about the age-old trio – love plus blues and trouble. This is another of Lady K’s favorites – a sexy blues number that showcases the trumpet and sax.

The kick-ass rockin’ track, “The Jungle,” feels all about McKenzie’s drums – she’s relentless (in a good way). The tune is about getting out of town and surviving in the jungle – “I said what I had to say / well, it’s time that I was leaving this town / I’m headed for the jungle.” “You’re Still My Baby” is another of my favorites, even tho’ it will drive dancers mad with multiple tempo-changes – back and forth between an up-tempo Bourbon Street beat (with the aforementioned sousaphone) and mid-tempo blues. It’s a fantastic track.

“Ironclad Alibi” has a Latin feel and will have the dancers in the crowd heading out on the floor for a little cha-cha-cha or mambo, while mourning a romance gone wrong. The slow blues of “Easy to Be the Devil” contains absolutely insane guitar and sax, and includes humorous lyrics: “must be easy to be the devil / bet he’s got them waiting in line / he’s willing to make you a deal if you don’t mind a little flame.” The only cover on this album is “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (by David C. Williams). This track is not the Jerry Lee Lewis version; it’s a ‘softer,’ more sophisticated version – you’ll still want to dance, but you won’t feel the need to jump up onto a piano. This tune is definitely swing-dancing music.

Lady K loves the dirge-feel of “Mr. Williams,” a eulogy commemorating Rudy Williams and his trumpet. “Did he ride off like Ezekiel in a chariot? In the sunset, like the cowboys like to go?”

Grand Marquis is not a band that will ride off quietly into the sunset; they’ve got a lot of terrific blues (and jazz and jive and funk) music to share.

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