The Stoney Curtis Band
Live (includes DVD)
BluesWax Rating: 8 out of 10
Old-School Retro Blues Rock
For fans wanting a taste of old-school retro rock going back to the sixties and seventies, then turning to the CD The Stoney Curtis Band Live is as good choice as any. Even better is the DVD that comes along with it, which more or less replicates the CD playlist in its exact sequence.
If blues rockers get off on the guitar pyrotechnics of Eric Gales and Chris Duarte (both of whom are signed to the Shrapnel label), they will derive enjoyment from Curtis’ attack of heavy riffage that is a visceral assault to the senses.
Curtis has a lot in common with Duarte and Gales. The common denominator being a love for Jimi Hendrix and seeing and hearing Stoney with his slash-and-burn attack using Marshall amps and a Fender guitar are the obvious trademarks. And though the vocals aren’t technically perfect to matching the chording and notes of the material, it hardly matters. Stoney’s blazing chops burn with lava lamp soul and silver guitar wow.
But you can tell the man’s heart is with the blues. Listening to him peeling licks off in “When The Sweet Turns To Sour” is a guitar freak’s dream of how the blues gets pushed into the next millennium. The opening track, “Last Train To Chicago,” is appropriately titled as it’s a full-blown rocker launching like a wild stallion out of the gate with no point in looking back. And if you want a taste of vintage Robin Trower, than “Behind The Sun” sounds like a throwaway track from the Bridge of Sighs sessions as Curtis weaves a spacey tapestry of notes and psychedelia that is a perfect foil for incense and black light posters.
Curtis is a hard rocker more than anything else. And, like Hendrix, he loves to stomp the wah-wah and use various effects pedals to heighten his fretboard magic. “Evil Woman” is a galloping rocker and the rhythm section of bassist Steve Evans and drummer Aaron Haggerty have no problems of keeping up with Stoney’s six-string romps through the blues-rock minefield. This is the same rhythm section that backs Eric Gales on his live CD and they also can be seen on Eric’s DVD recording taken from the same venue with the exact camera setup.
Stoney’s penchant for jamming pushes the material into the eight minute marks and “Blues Without You” sees him slowly burning guitar lines as the blues becomes whitewashed with Hendrix and Frank Marino stylings recalling another era in time.
The Blues Shrapnel label is notorious for its gunslingers. Add Stoney Curtis to the roster of guitar players who want to rock your world with a touch of the blues in an old-school way that hearkens back decades earlier when we got turned on to this kind of music as teenagers and it just never went away.
Gary Weeks is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
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