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The Avey Brothers are barroom veterans. Playing all the little holes in the wall and dives between Quincy IL to their home in Davenport IA for the past 20 years in various forms, they are a true heavy-hitting barroom blues outfit showing signs of being the next up and coming star in the blues. Back on May 17, competing against several other bands, the Avey Brothers won a coveted spot from the Mississippi Valley Blues Society to represent Iowa at the International Blues Challenge this upcoming February. Mixing elements of Cajun swamp, blue-rock, and Chicago sounds; the Avey Brothers may have what it takes to jump into the finals in Memphis this coming February.
Avey Brothers
The Avey Brothers members are all a group of veteran players. Chris Avey (lead vocals, guitar) was recently a member of the Big Pete Pearson Band in Phoenix, AZ for the past 15 years. Mark Avey (bass) is no stranger to the Memphis stage as he went a few years ago as a member of the Mercury Brothers. Drummer Bryan West was a fixture on Chicago’s alternative rock scene in years past and harmonica man Chris “Westside Slim” Ryan has bounced around in the Davenport IA area for several years in different bands. The quartet, with their mixed backgrounds, come together on this their debut disc as a rough around the edges, no frills barroom blues band that is out to fight tooth and nail for the main stages.

The album kicks off with a nasty blues-rocker filled with ham-radio sounding vocals on the title track. Chris Avey’s thick guitar attack is coupled with the hard-hitting rhythm section of his brother and Bryan West’s drums. Ryan’s harmonica adds coloration and rhythm around the edges. This is pretty much the typical formula throughout the album. Avey’s vocals, sometimes reminding me of Tab Benoit (check out zydeco influenced numbers “My Little Girl” or “Her Mind is Gone”) or a younger, more invigorated Coco Montoya with a stinging guitar attack and fire and brimstone howls (the eight minute epic “Restless” is quintessential). West and Mark Avey are completely in the pocket throughout. In fact, they are rock solid and never straying.

In the end there are only a few gripes I have of the disc. “I Found Out’s” vocals are a little off key and out of sync with the rest of the album. Sometimes Chris Avey’s howl is a little too rough around the edges for its own good. Westside Slim’s harmonica needs to be louder and more prominent on his solos and for some of his flavorings. He seems a little drowned out of the mix at times. However, it’s this rough and tumble style that breeds the Avey Brothers’ energy and hunger. In that sound and in that groove, you can hear how much different they are compared to the rest of the barroom blues bands who play night in and night out. These guys are hungry and they want to break out. Between the ever-dependable rhythm and Chris’s leads, you’ve got the makings of a great band fighting its way to the top. Once you hear Chris’ commanding voice pointing a finger at you, you won’t want to argue.