|The blues is designed as a form that allows the artist to express sorrow or jubilation in equal measures. The men in Milwaukee’s acclaimed Altered Five Blues Band push the limits of this axiom on their sixth studio album, Holler If You Hear Me. The 2018 Blues Music Award nominees once again recorded over five fast and furious days in Nashville, TN with three-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, who produced the band’s chart-topping album Ten Thousand Watts, earning them a first place in the blues category of the 2019 International Songwriting Competition. The 13 original tracks are a testament to the songwriting skills of guitarist, Jeff Schroedl, who wrote or co-wrote all the songs to exploit the powerful vocals and exuberant showmanship of front man, Jeff Taylor. Bassist Mark Solveson anchors the rock-solid rhythm section with drummer Alan Arber, while Raymond Tevich melds his crafty keyboard work to create the group’s muscular midwestern sound.
The baker’s dozen of rockin’ blues and scorching soul tracks kicks off with the jumping title track “Holler If You Hear Me,” a real rabble rouser that features the first of five guest spots from Jason Ricci, who brings his sizzling harmonica to the house party. Taylor and Schroedl ease their way into the swampy tale of late-night fun “Guilty Of A Good Time,” defending the case for happy-go-lucky revelers, who mean no harm. Ricci rejoins the fellas for the two-beat stomper “If You Go Away (She Might Come Back),” taking a hot solo on the boiling advice-column shouter. The classic slow 8-bar blues “Holding On With One Hand” finds Taylor opening his heart, as his love slips away. A hot guitar riff gives way to gritty clavinet and Hammond B3 on the fast moving “Full Moon, Half Crazy.” Ricci adds harmonic tension and some superb Little Walter styled licks to the swinging “Where’s My Money.” Arber lays down a Stubblefield groove for the fabulous funk “All Suit, No Soul,” and everyone digs deep into the slinky tale of self-preservation “I Got All I Need.”
Taylor demonstrates his manly swagger during the bump and grind blues “Clear Conscience, Bad Memory,” and declares his independence and nightlife readiness on the driving rocker “In The Name Of No Good.” The dramatic blues, “Leave Before I Let You Down,” is the story of a tormented lover battling his inner demons. The edgy “Fifteen Minutes Of Blame” is a classic tome of hard luck and trouble that features more hot instrumental chops from Schroedl and the boys. Ricci returns for track 13, “Big Shout Out,” and helps the band close the set by namechecking “everybody who built the blues,” as a swinging all-star roll call of musical heroes. A song that will certainly be a great addition to any blues radio show.
Under Tom Hambridge’s direction, as only he knows how to make great sounding records, the Altered Five Blues Band have once against created another strong album of sonic delights further solidifying their place in the blues rock landscape.
Rick J Bowen
Altered Five Blues Band makes music with a swaggering stomp of bruising, barrelhouse grit. According to Downbeat magazine, frontman Jeff Taylor “sings powerfully” and “Jeff Schroedl’s live-wire guitar reaches the high bar of mixed invention and fluidity.” Blues Bytes magazine declares the group features “the funkiest rhythm section outside of Memphis.”
A 2018 Blues Music Award nominee, the Milwaukee-based quintet will release its new album, Holler If You Hear Me, September 3 on Blind Pig Records. Recorded over five days in Nashville, TN and produced by three-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, the 13 original tracks showcase the band’s deft songwriting, Taylor’s mighty baritone voice, and the intuitive musical interplay of the longtime bandmates. Harmonica ace Jason Ricci also joins the group on five tracks. The pre-order begins July 23, 2021.
The new album arrives on the heels of three award-winning records. Cryin’ Mercy won “Best Self-Produced Album” at the International Blues Challenge in 2015. Charmed & Dangerous scored Song of the Year at both the Independent Music Awards and Wisconsin Music Awards in 2018. Guitar World magazine called the song “Charmed & Dangerous” a “menacing, swampy blues,” and the track has been in regular rotation on SiriusXM’s Bluesville along with many other programs and playlists. The album’s third track, “Three Forks,” was inspired by legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson and features music, adapted with permission, from the seminal classic “Crossroads.” Then in 2019, Ten Thousand Watts reached #10 on the Billboard Blues Chart, hit #1 on both the iTunes and Amazon blues charts, and the song “Great Minds Drink Alike” won first place in the blues category of the 2019 International Songwriting Competition. The album’s opening track, a burning boogie entitled “Right On, Right On,” has received significant airplay on satellite and terrestrial radio.
Altered Five Blues Band now have five studio albums to their name, including Gotta Earn It (2012) and Bluesified (2008), both on Cold Wind Records. The group has performed at many renowned festivals and venues such as: Lucerne Blues Fest (Switzerland), Grolsch Blues Fest (Germany), W.C. Handy Blues Fest (Kentucky), Ann Arbor Blues Fest, King Biscuit Blues Fest, Baltic Blues Fest (Germany), Milwaukee Summerfest, Magic City Blues Fest (Montana), Fargo Blues Fest, B.B. King’s Blues Club (Memphis), and Buddy Guy’s Legends (Chicago).
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.