|When thinking of Christmas traditions and holiday music, the Pacific Northwest is not the first place that comes to mind, and yet some of the best-selling Christmas music came from Northwest natives. ‘White Christmas’ from Spokane crooner Bing Crosby is one such example that tops the list. Growing up hearing this and other iconic music, award-winning song writer Michele D’Amour longed to add her voice to that lexicon. Now leading her own band, The Love Dealers, she has finally made that dream come true with the release of their sixth album “Christmas in Blue.”
The Seattle-based group recorded the ten-song collection after much encouragement and requests from fans who heard the group perform several of the songs. The album includes eight original songs along with two often covered classics that are a must for any Christmas album and on which the band puts their own spin.
The set kicks off with the title track and augments the five-piece band with a full horn section on a Big Joe Turner styled jump with D’Amour teaching us all how to paint our ‘Christmas In Blue.’ She then pokes fun at the storybook game that encourages kids to be on their best behavior during the holidays, ‘Elf On A Shelf,’ by telling the story of a kid, who’s suspicious of the creepy little guy and tells him to get lost. Sax man Noel Barnes plays the part of Maceo on the burning James Brown styled ‘Funky Santa.’ The swinging 12-bar ‘Bring My Baby Back,’ has all the elements of a classic Christmas blues ballad that could have come from Etta James or Ray Charles.
D’Amour has a little fun with the notion of being passed over by Santa while the band got some great presents on the jazzy ‘All I Got For Christmas.’ She then gets a bit cheeky on the slinky track ‘Naughty List,’ tempting her man to meet her under the mistletoe. A white Christmas is truly a rare thing in Seattle, so the big band swing of ‘Weatherman’ is a plea for the city’s favorite forecaster to bring on the white stuff in time for a cool yule. The traditional hymn ‘Silent Night’ is delivered with reverence and the update of an easy back beat and glorious Hammond B3 from keyboardist Brian Olendorf. ‘The Noisiest Toy’ is a rockabilly party full of zips, beeps and whizbangs that celebrates the joy of being a kid on Christmas morning, and features a blazing guitar solo by special guest CD Woodbury. Drummer Dave Delzotto leads the second line for a Bourbon Street Christmas parade closing the show with a New Orleans version of ‘The Little Drummer Boy.’
“Christmas In Blue” from Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers is a loving gift; well written, played with skill, and delivered with joy.
Rick J Bowen
Michele D’Amour grew up in West Seattle and was a child prodigy on piano at the age of six. She also started singing very early on, performing in her church choir. Michele enjoyed writing from an early age and became a published poet in her late teens. Later, Michele earned her chops singing with several different local bands and writing her own music, winning a Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition in 2017.
Dave Delzotto, originally from Eugene, Oregon, began studying and playing drums in his teens. He is now a highly sought-after jazz and blues drummer known for his precision, subtlety, and top-notch funk chops.
Patrick McDanel, another Seattle native, started his music career as a professional trombone player before switching to bass after sustaining an injury in the 1990s. He has toured nationally and internationally with various bands.
Born and raised in Iowa, Jeff Cornell began playing guitar at the age of 12 and hasn’t let up since. He studied with Craig Erickson of the Central Iowa blues society. He joined the band in late 2017 and brings a funky, gritty sound to the mix.
Brian Olendorf is a classically trained piano and keyboard player, as well as a seasoned professional on the jazz, funk, and blues circuit in the Pacific Northwest. He has played with Brian Nova and Felonius Funk.
Noel Barnes joins the band on tenor and baritone sax (and occasionally on flute). Barnes studied with Sue Orfield and has played with Copastetic, Double Shot, and City Knightz.
Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers have released six albums: “Sin Comin’ On” (February 2014), “Ante Up” (March 2015), “Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge” (June 2017). 2018’s “Wiggle Room” spent 13 weeks at #1 on Roots Music Report’s Jazzy Blues chart. In 2019, they released “Heart of Memphis,” which debuted at #3 on the Roots Music Report and has spent 13 weeks at #1 on the Roots Music Report to date. Their most recent album is “Christmas In Blue.”
The band was awarded “Best Blues Band” by LA Music Critic in January 2019. “Heart of Memphis” earned the group three silver medals from Global Music Awards for Female Vocalist, Band, and Album.