Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones AND Dennis Gruenling "Rockin' All Day"

 Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones and Dennis Gruenling have spent the past five or six months touring the east coast together supporting these two new cds. Doug Deming hails from Detroit and now resides on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He plays guitar and sings. Dennis Gruenling is from New Jersey, and he plays harmonica and sings. The Jewel Tones have been around since 1991, and the current members are Andrew Gohman on upright and electric bass, and Devin Neel on drums. Both these discs are on the Vizztone label.  
Let me take them in alphabetical order--on "Wht's It Gonna Take" Doug Deming wrote six of the 11 songs. Anthony Smith guests on harmonica on one track, "No Big Thrill." The covers are Willie Mabon's "Poison Ivy," J Hendricks' "I Want You To Be My Baby" and B Johnson's "A Pretty Girl (A cadillac and Some Money)" and Dennis Gruenling's "Bella Boogie." Of the originals, several merit notice--"Think Hard" sounds like a Jimmy Reed song. "One Good Reason" is a showcase for Andrew Gohman's swinging standup bass, and Deming lays a smooth jazzy guitar break. "Stay Away" is a powerhouse, starting with a big drum beat and lyrics that sound like Duke Robillard is singing and a great guitar break. Doug's singing and guitar with The Jewel Tones and Dennis Gruenling are a fantastic compliment--throughout, this seems like a hot 4 piece band, playing a set of blues stylistically featuring jump, rockabilly and swing blues. There are moments when this comes across as old-fashioned, like on "I Want You To Be My Baby," and on "Poison Ivy," but on the rest of the songs here the feel is surprisingly contemporary. Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones are making a new thing out of the old-skool blues, and the results are highly addictive.

Let me pick up "Rockin' All Day." On this cd Dennis Gruenling plays all the songs with Doug Deming on guitar and vocals, and half of the songs they are backed by The Jewel Tones. The other half of the songs Gruenling plays with members of his sometimes road band, Scot Hornick on bass and Tom Papadatos on drums. Dave Gross is in the producer's chair, and he plays piano on one track. Dennis even sings on one song. He has been playing harmonica since he released his debut cd in 1999, and let me tell you, he has plenty of chops to spare. Here he wrote 4 of the 12 songs, and Doug Deming wrote one.  Things start off on a high level, a harmonica showcase of "Jimmy McCrackin's "Rockin' All Day (Reelin' & Rockin')" There's no letdown after that either. The next song is Jimmy Harris's "Roll Your Moneymaker," and when they had these two in the can, they knew for sure this was going to be a strong release. On the third song, Gruenling's original "The Rev," one of three instrumentals here, Dennis rips the roof off with a chromatic harp workout...and Deming brings a seriously great guitar break in the middle. Then we get two hot swinging covers, "Saturday Night Fish Fry" followed by "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer." Those songs might be over 50 years old, but the band is so hot the songs simply don't feel old.  Everything here and for the rest of the disc just swings with loads of energy and style. Seeing these guys live would be a treat!

Let me finish with a couple of quotes:

"Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones deliver the sound and styles of Blues and Swing fresh way past the expiration date."   Bob Margolin

"Dennis Gruenling is a leading light among a new generation of blues harp players...a true innovator..."                Blues Revue

Don't buy just one--buy them both. These cds can be bought at http://www.vizztone.com

1 comment:

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