Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Insomniacs: "At Least I'm Not With You"

I need to thank my friend Mark Smith for telling me about The Insomniacs. Mark is the longtime "blues pilot" on KJLU at Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri, and back in August of 2007 Mark handed me the Insomniacs' first cd and told me "Listen to these guys. They've got the goods." That same night I sat in the dark and listened to "Left Coast Blues" through the headphones--and I heard smooth swinging west coast blues, the authentic real deal. Ever since then I've been looking for the next disc by these guys. Well, it's here and "At Least I'm Not With You" is even better! That debut disc was recorded on a shoestring budget, but this one has the clout of Delta Groove behind the guys. Since 2007 the Portland, OR-based band, led by 27-year old vocalist/guitarist/songwriter VYASA DODSON, together with bassist DEAN MUELLER, keyboardist ALEX SHAKERI and drummer DAVE MELYAN, has been on the road playing and honing and shaping their sound. This disc just jumps from the very first notes, and it never lets up! The Insomniacs bring to life a lively, jumpy, energy-packed bunch of originals and a few selected covers, aided by special guests Al Blake and Mitch Kashmar on harmonica, Joel Paterson on pedal steel guitar, and Jeff Turmes on tenor/baritone sax. The highlight is "Hoodoo Man Blues"--the first time I heard this take of that tune I had to get up and dance around the room! To my mind, the Insomniacs are soon to be THE premier West Coast blues band--the Mannish Boys, Kim Wilson and all the rest better start looking in their rear view mirror. The Insomniacs remind me of The Hollywood Blue Flames when the Blues Flames were starting out, and I mean that as the very highest compliment.

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