A Ton Of Blues

A Ton Of Blues
Crooked Avenue

Punching Monkey Records (884501671743)

By Georgetown Fats
April 2012

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While I do not like the concept of the blues battle of the bands, as the local blues challenges can make for bad music and bruised egos, over the last two years I have been left gobsmacked by bands I had not yet experienced.

This year’s instance of musical dumbfounding was A Ton of Blues. As a four piece act, A Ton of Blues has kept an active gigging schedule since its 2010 inception. In addition to winning the band portion of the 2011 Boston Blues Challenge, they also won the 2011 Best Blues/R&B Act at the 2011 Worcester Music Awards. With the release of their debut disk Crooked Avenue, expect more awards for these guys real soon.

Crooked Avenue opens with “I’ve Got to Let You Know” with guitarist Scott LeBlanc, bassist Jeff Lorenzon and drummer Al Clark nailing down a wide Texas-meets-Chicago groove for vocalist/harpist Mike “Spud” Kelly to deliver the matter of fact lyrics. While the subject matter of “I’ve Got to Let You Know” is a standard topic of love and lust, Kelly’s jazz-like delivery offers a new take on an old theme. While the whole song is an irresistible dance track, the entire band raises the musical bar right as Scott LeBlanc goes into a solo. While an admitted fan of both Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan, LeBlanc shows remarkable restraint during his guitar solo. Each note is played for a purpose, no note interferes with the groove; it is an entirely refreshing complementary guitar solo from someone who is a musician far older and talented than his 33 chronological years.

On “This Thing I Do,” A Ton of Blues brings the funk with a Texas blues feel. Once again the listener is treated to a tight syncopated musical section between bassist Jeff Lorenzon and drummer Al Clark right before Scott LeBlanc offers up another wonderfully understated solo. While LeBlanc does Stevie Ray Vaughan’s memory proud with this solo, with his tone and phrasing, LeBlanc is his own man.

Probably my favorite out of the eight track release has to be “Colleen.” LeBlanc kicks the track off with some dobro playing before the entire band kicks in. While remaining a blues track, A Ton of Blues supplies hard rock intensity and sensibility, creating a heavy instrumental track which sounds better the louder it is played. Kelly’s tight tenor lyrics offer up what I can only think must be the first Irish-American Blues. “Colleen” may be a ‘big legged woman,’ but she also has pale skin and freckles.

Having made significant inroads and contacts while in Memphis, and by keeping an active gigging schedule, it is only a matter of time before their sound gets national exposure. While A Ton of Blues touts sharing stages with Johnny Winter and James Montgomery in their Electronic Press Kit, the time will come really soon when other bands will get to say that they have shared the stage with A Ton of Blues.

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