So tonight, I was thinking about how to write today’s post about a new group (to me) The Kilborn Alley Blues Band and the album that I listened to first this Blues Wednesday Better Off Now and I thought, what do I like in a blues band. Well, you need a good strong guitar see Stevie Ray, Corey Stevens, Mike Bloomfield any of the guitarist for John Mayall….Kilborn Alley- Josh Stimmel and Andrew Duncannon on guitars sound pretty good to me… maybe you can throw in a little harp see James Cotton, Paul Butterfield,John Mayall, Kim Wilson …. Kilborn Alley – Joe Asselin sounds as good and bluesy as any of them…… throw in vocals with a lot of feeling take your pick of vocalists B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells… Kilborn Alley Andrew Duncannon provides some great blues vocals in a great Chicago Blues style! Maybe you mix in a little organ see Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield….Killborn Alley it’s there but I don’t know who it is! Throw in Chris Breen on bass and Ed O’Hara on drums and what do you get – A great gritty Chicago Blues Band!!!
Better Off Now is the third release by this band from Urbana Illinois and it is a terrific album from a great band and it’s not just me that thinks that. They have been nominated for several blues awards and won The Sean Costello Rising Star Award in 2009 from Blues Blast. Here’s a good summation of the band from the press page on their website:
The trade-off between Asselin’s harmonicas (blown into a green bullet microphone, through a Fender Champ amplifier), and Andrew’s voice, raise the band’s performance to stellar heights. The intonation of each complements and emulates the other, almost like a pair of muted horns trading and echoing each other.
Duncanson keeps the focus of the audience by serving up the songs…..”I tend to get into a Junior Wells mode, sing like him quite a bit….” Well, he does sound like Junior Wells and that is all right because Asselin fills out the harp end of that signature. And Duncanson’s guitar playing is surprisingly fast and flashy.
When he’s not trading wonks with the harmonica, hot guitar licks go back and forth from his Strat’ … and Stimmel’s Fernandez guitar …They merge and mingle the electric strings as they thread their way into the riffs.
Jeff McCord, “Authentic-sounding bluesmen aren’t ‘way past 21,'”
Kankakee Sunday Journal , 28 March 2004, p. C18
While I think I liked all of the tracks on the album, some of the top tracks for me were: “Nothing Left to Stimulate” the first track, “Foolsville”, “Train to Memphis”, an instrumental “Bubbleguts” (see Al Kooper doing Green Onions with Mike Bloomfield),” Tonight” again , an “Tough Time”. Again, if you like blues and the blues masters then try this band cause I think these guys studied the masters and they learned their lessons well!! As for me I’m out to find their first two releases Tear Down Chicago (2007) and Put It In The Alley (2006)!
Here’s a good video that captures the band’s style!