ShadowBox Blues Band

ShadowBox Blues Band
Haggie Daggy Blues


By Karen Nugent
July 2008

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Sometimes reviewers get too caught up in the well-known, sometimes legendary, blues bands. That can do a disservice to the not-so-famous, and local, bands one could take in any weekend.

The ShadowBox Blues Bands is an example. The female fronted band has played all over the Boston area, including a monthly residency at the Snug Pub in Hingham.

The six-piece band, featuring a fiddle player and harp player for its variety of up-tempo, jump blues, and some R&B material, has produced a six-track demo with five blues classics, and a folk-blues Dylan song.

The disc was recorded live at Nobscott Studios in Sudbury, with practically no editing, according to the band. If that is true, itís not obvious.

What is obvious is the fine harmonica playing by Barry Cohen, on virtually every song. Besides Cohen, nicknamed ďDirty Harp,Ē the band is made up of Betsy Hamparian on lead vocals, Tom Glover on lead guitar, David Lawless on guitar and vocals, Dennis McHale on bass and John Galeros on Drums. Hamparian also plays fiddle, but not on this record.

The disc starts off with a rockiní “Shake Your Money Maker,” always a favorite dance number.

But my favorite is the next track, “Little By Little” on which Cohen has a particularly good solo, and the bass line is perfect.

Muddyís (OK, Willie Dixonís) “Iím Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” however, is usually not a good song for any band to take on, other than the best Chicago-style group. Itís also not especially appealing when a woman sings it, having to alter the lyrics and all. ShadowBox has titled this “Hoochie Coochie Woman.” Perhaps Koko Taylor could pull it off, but not Hamparian, whose smoky vocals, fine on the rest of the disc, sound forced and over-the-top here. But, there is a super guitar solo by Glover, with plenty of wah-wah.

The Dylan song, “Things Have Changed,” performed by rhythm guitarist David Lawless, is surprisingly good (Iím not a big Dylan fan.) Lawless sounds like the man himself -not sure thatís a compliment - so letís say Lawless sings a bit better than Bob. The band handles this very well, especially Glover on lead guitar for the bridge. Itís fast moving, even danceable, and thoroughly cool.

“Ainít Nobodyís Business If I Do,” a kind of tired classic, drags here. But it more or less is supposed to, I guess. Itís got kind of a lazy, laid back feel, complimented nicely by Glover and Cohen, shining on harp once again.

The disc wraps up with “Flip, Flop and Fly.” All six members do a terrific job with the tune, fusing together nicely in the bridge and throughout, with Hamparian at her best.

Check this group out. I know I will, very soon. I bet theyíre even better in a club.

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