|Never being afraid of seizing the moment and capitalizing on an opportunity is a quality one must have to succeed in today’s harried climate and certainly a surefire way to fulfill your dreams. The emerging Northwest group Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers took advantage of their trip to the birth place of the blues during IBC week in January of 2019 by snatching up some available studio time at the legendary Royal Studios with owner, engineer and producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell. D’Amour and her core band were in Memphis on a promotional tour that turned into an inspirational journey of discovery, now documented as the “Heart Of Memphis.”
The collection of seven new originals and the cover of a King Curtis classic ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ were recorded live off the floor at Royal on a Friday night by vocalist and award-winning songwriter Michele D’Amour and her stalwart Love Dealers band that features Patrick McDanel on bass, Dave Delzotto on drums, guitar man Jeff Cornell, keyboardist Brian Olendorf, keyboards, and Noel Barnes on saxophone. They took those inspired tracks back to Seattle, where they added a bit of spice and mixed them.
The Latin flavored ‘Another Sleepless Night’ opens the set with horn flourishes over a salsa rhythm while D’Amour sings of another lonely night without her man. Cornell then throws down a gritty guitar riff for the sordid tale of a woman scorned in ‘Dirty Pool.’ The sultry rhumba, ‘Come On Over,’ features some fine piano from Olendorf, a haunting solo for guest trumpeter Greg Lyons, and some deliciously alluring vocals from D’Amour. Sax man Noel Barnes steps up for the first solo on the soul burner about hard luck and trouble ‘Cradle To The Hearse.’ Drummer Dave Delzotto sets a frenetic pace for the funkified editorial of our frenzied world ‘No Time,’ with D’Amour laying out the irony of our instant-gratification culture. The title track is a document of their trip to Beale Street and how the music seeps up from the very earth under the pavement and name checks some of its infamous clubs and the inspiration that flows up from the big muddy. Memphis is dubbed the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but it’s also known for an amazing array of food shaped by a multi-cultural mix of influences. The band pays tribute to the city on a romp through ‘Memphis Soul Stew,’ with each of the Love Dealers strutting his stuff on the spicy instrumental.
The album closes with the Gospel blues ‘Strange Angels,’ a bittersweet testament of the joy and pain to be found at a dancehall on any given night and the role of entertainers as ministers to the soul. This fifth album from Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers may prove to be their finest effort as the group certainly did find the Heart Of Memphis and brought it home.
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 from an early age, performing in her church choir. Michele also 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 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 four albums: “Sin Comin’ On” in February 2014 with three original songs penned by Michele; “Ante Up,” comprised of ten originals written by Michele, in March 2015; “Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge,” with twelve original tunes written by Michele, in June 2017 and Wiggle Room in 2018.
In 2018, Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers received three nominations from Washington Blues Society: Best Blues Album – Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge; Best Blues Songwriter – Michele D’Amour; Best Bass – Patrick McDanel. The band also reached the 2014 & 2018 finals of The Washington Blues Society’s IBC Challenge.
“Wiggle Room” was #1 on Roots Music Report’s Jazzy Blues Chart for 13 weeks and remains in the top 10. The songs ‘Wiggle Room’ and ‘Hard Times’ won Global Music Awards bronze medals. The band won LA Music Critic’s Best Blues Band Award for 2nd half of 2018. And this year Washington Blues Society nominated “Wiggle Room” for Best Blues Album and Michele D’Amour for best blues songwriter.