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
Valley Blues Society to represent Iowa at the
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.
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.