Altered Five Blues Band
|The Milwaukee-based quintet Altered Five Blues Band is the first artist to join the roster of the esteemed blues/roots label Blind Pig Records since it was acquired by The Orchard, one of the largest independent distributors in the world. The band’s label debut, “Charmed & Dangerous,” was produced by multi-Grammy-winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, George Thorogood, James Cotton) and will be released worldwide August 11. This highly anticipated reunion of Hambridge, who also played drums on the album, and the A5 songwriting team marks the fourth full-length album for the band. The 13 new tunes cover the gamut of hard driving blues, house rocking soul, and classic R&B all designed to feature the infectious vocals of Jeff Taylor, whose bravado and full-throated baritone sounds like B.B. King, Big Joe Turner and Bobby “Blue” Bland all rolled into one.
Taylor spells out all his manly attributes that read like a rock-star resume in the opening title track, then keeps the positive vibes flowing on the upbeat shuffle ‘Mint Condition.’ For the foot stomping blues ‘Three Forks’ the band delivers a clever reworking of Robert Johnson’s seminal classic ‘Crossroads,’ by writing a new set of lyrics that pay tribute to the Delta Blues of 1938 and all those how have ventured down to Clarksdale seeking to uncover her mysteries. A sharp guitar riff from Jeff Schroedl sets up the angular blues confessional ‘On My List to Quit,’ and Taylor plays the bard with quick witted prose on the sonnet ‘If Your Heart Went Public.’ The jumpin’ track ‘Gonna Lose My Lady’ is a hip shaking boogie and the greasy slow blues ‘Cookin’ In Your Kitchen’ is a tasty treat full of hot licks on piano from Raymond Tevich and more scorching leads from Schroedl. The gang ramps up the energy for ‘She’s Still Crazy,’ adding harmonica from Steve Cohen to create a very Junior Wells like vibe, while bassist Mark Solveson propels the groove with a steady, angular line. Look for an upcoming video for the sentimental ballad ‘Eighth Wonder,’ that features Candice Smith on soaring backup vocals.
The band gets down to business for the driving blues rocker ‘Three Alarm Desire,’ followed by more grit and groove on the straight-ahead mover ‘Small Talk’ that features sweet Hammond B3 from Tevich. The band goes deeper for the heavy rocker ‘Rotten,’ laying down a bit of Deep Purple styled thunder. Finally, the happy go lucky swing of the sardonic ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ closes out the set with Taylor leading the crew through some old timey blues. The new album from Altered Five Blues Band is perfectly titled, as this team is exactly as advertised, a “Charmed & Dangerous” group of very talented players. who are on their game.
Rick J Bowen
For 15 years, Altered Five Blues Band has been winning audiences with a swaggering stomp of bruising, barrelhouse grit. According to DownBeat, frontman Jeff Taylor “sings powerfully” and “Jeff Schroedl’s live-wire guitar reaches the high bar of mixed invention and fluidity.” Blues Bytes declares the group features “the funkiest rhythm section outside of Memphis.”
From day one, Altered Five dared to be different. The quintet formed in 2002 and earned a reputation for its inventive arrangements and distinctive sound. Isthmus magazine called the band “a rising blues unit” and OnMilwaukee.com declared, “The group delivers the element of surprise.” Within a few years, A5 caught the ear of Cold Wind Records and, in 2008, signed a recording contract with the Minneapolis blues label. The debut album featured the band’s penchant for putting an earthy spin on numbers; the aptly titled “Bluesified” included roadhouse versions of ten popular songs. The group performed live on three television morning shows and honed its sound playing regular club, festival, and concert dates.
In the ensuing years, A5 turned its attention to recording and performing its own material, and the 2012 release of “Gotta Earn It” drew rave reviews. Barrelhouse Blues called it “a great and powerful recording,” DownBeat commended its “solid songs,” Living Blues called the band “a tight, unified talent” and Big City Rhythm & Blues called A5 “Hands down, one of the best newer blues/R&B bands.”
The band’s third album, entitled “Cryin’ Mercy,” delivered the next chapter in A5’s musical odyssey. The 11-song set is a fierce collection of original, contemporary blues fused with vintage soul, and was the debut release for OmniVibe Records. The album earned the band two Blues Blast Award nominations and five WAMI Award nominations, including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for ‘Find My Wings’, which also made it to the finals of the International Songwriting Competition. “Cryin’ Mercy” reached #3 in the iTunes blues store, made #1 on the Roots Music Report blues album chart, and won “Best Self-Produced CD” at the 2015 International Blues Challenge. The band was also named “Blues Artist of the Year” at the 2014 WAMI Award Show, and was recently asked to contribute a track (‘Tightrope’) to a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute album being released in the fall of 2017.
Bassist Mark Solveson anchors the rock-solid rhythm section with drummer Alan Arber, who joined the band in 2017, and Raymond Tevich melds his crafty keyboard work to top off the group’s signature sound. It’s been said that “the blues is a feeling,” so when the Minneapolis Star Tribune states that the band is a “righteous blast,” you know they play it right.
CHARMED & DANGEROUS
BLIND PIG RECORDS
AUGUST 11, 2017
DIRECT SHOT DISTRIBUTION/THE ORCHARD