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Originally Published January 12, 2001
Young Man With The Blues
Twenty year-old Sean Costello is one bad boy. This guitar slinger/singer puts more passion and fire into his performance than most other artists out there right now. I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing a recent show with his band, in the perfect place – an authentic Blues club with an appreciative, knowledgeable crowd. I had seen the same five men play last August, and it certainly was fine, but the night of January 5th was something extra special. Costello is improving with leaps and bounds, his confidence and stage presence elevating to a stunning level. His vocals, in particular, are getting stronger and more mature. Sean displays an array of “Blues faces,” which along with his animated body language, clearly demonstrates that he loses himself, immersing his soul in the Blues.
Costello isn’t the only star here, either. He has a band that understands what he is trying to put across, and they support and prod him all the way. One of the most interesting aspects of the band is the “tag-team” approach from the two keyboard players. Paul Linden generally handles the piano duties, while Matt Wauchope is the one emanating some spine-tingling tones from the organ. At one point, they even doubled up on the same piano. Even though they are excellent artists individually, they show that they also have a telepathic interplay that helps lift the band’s collective energy into the stratosphere. If that isn’t enough, Linden also provides some of the most powerful Blues harp playing around. Paul also gets to sing on occasion. All of this gives the band a versatility that keeps things interesting all night long. The overall sound is anchored by the very steady bass work of Melvin Zachary, along with the aggressive drumming of Terrence Prather. Prather, who is a fellow alumnus of Susan Tedeschi’s band along with Costello and Linden, whacks his drum kit with unending fervor.
The band’s repertoire is versatile and varied, also. They are adept at Jump, R&B, and New Orleans-style Blues, but are most convincing at authentic Chicago-style Blues. In particular, Sean performs Otis Rush and Buddy Guy tunes as well as anybody that I have seen. He wrenches out the words and notes with conviction and passion. He always seems to put a fresh spin on any cover tunes, though, whether it’s from T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy Rogers, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, or even James Brown. They also gave us a taste of some original work, including some that will be on their next album, due out this spring. The second set ended with Linden’s own torrid harp workout, “The Plumber.” He will clean your pipes, indeed.
They ended the night with the most incredible rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “I’m In The Mood” that I have ever experienced. With a steady, slow and heavy beat relentlessly driving things along, Sean played his guitar with all of the spirit of Hook, but added his virtuosity to the primal feel of the song. Linden added a harp solo that was downright scary! This was the Blues at its best – do not miss this talented, young Bluesman and his dynamic band when they come your way. They will kick your ass!
CONGRATULATIONS!!! ” walle ” you are this week’s winner of an autographed Jimmy Thackery CD, Sinner Street. Go to the Backstage to collect your prize. Remember to play the quiz each week for your chance to win great prizes.
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