With varied ensembles, the Silvertones have been together for over twenty years now. And as you'd expect, that length of time has taken them down many roads. As a matter of fact, the title of their fifth CD is symbolic of those roads because it's no different than any of them. Over the years "Silvertone Avenue" has presented many twists and turns and lots of obstacles for the guys. Yet, according to them, one thing never changes - the desire to keep driving down that road. Keep on truckin' guys. I'm sure the people you've passed on those roads are happy you made the drive.
On "Silvertone Avenue", the Silvertones consist of: Randy Ball on vocals, tambourine, washboard and drums; Leo De La Vega on vocals and electric & acoustic guitars; Rob Donavan on vocals, backup vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, dobro and slide & baritone guitars; and Brian Wicker on vocals, backup vocals and bass. Other riders on this trip include: Chuck Ward on piano, organ and horns; Joanna Ramirez on backup vocals; George Coyne on guitar; Ponty Bone on accordion; Mary Ann Broussard on tambourine; and Jamie Connally on laughs. The CD contains thirteen tracks with all being band originals.
With a first impression carrying the weight it does, opening up with a smoker is always a good idea and it doesn't get much more smokin' than this. "Knockin' On My Baby's Door" is good old rockin, rollin', fast dancing music at it's best. Asked to name this song I may have called it "Speeding Down Silvertone Avenue". Real good stuff.
Being the discs most serious blues track, you know I'm loving this one. It's songs like "All Night Corner" that make me love the blues. Randy's belting out the lyrics sounding as melancholy as one can possibly sound, the rhythm's tough and tight and the lead guitars are scorching hot. Make this one forty-five minutes and I won't care that's it's the discs only track.
"Dallas, Austin, And Back Again" is a perfect title for this song. With Randy having that locomotive thing going on the drums and Chuck rolling right along on piano, it's got the perfect beat for a traveling song. With Joanna giving him strong support, Rob's sounding good vocally, and the guitars are adding an appropriate country feel.
Surprisingly, the title track - "Silvertone Avenue" - is an instrumental. From what I read in the liner notes, and paraphrased in my introduction, I'd have bet it would have been a story about all those roads and obstacles. Regardless, the tracks done quite well. Randy and Brian are in a solid rhythm groove on drums and bass and one of the listed players is killing it on lead guitar.
"Hoedown Jones" is one of the discs two acoustic tracks. This one features Randy on the vocals and I gotta tell you, he's got this hollerin' thing down pat. That, and the amazing acoustic guitar pickin' between Leo and Rob make this one of the discs best. Additionally, the perfect timing between Randy and Mary Ann on the tambourines was admirable.....and that's coming from someone who is not a big fan of the tambourine.
"Whiskeyhead" is the other very well done acoustic track. Of course there's a lot more of the acoustic duo's excellent guitar work with Rob sounding especially good on the dobro. This one features Rob on the vocals as he pretty much tells a tale that many of us are all too familiar with - what happens when we stick our faces in that liquor.
The CD closes with a very cool track called "Silvertone Trail". It's virtually a musical autobiography about the band and it's members. It features all four band members taking turns on the vocals as they sing a story about where one of the other band mates comes from and a bit about that person, as well. Here's an example.....
"Brian, he's a beach bum.....with sand between his toes.
He started out in California.....right along the coast.
He holds down the bottom.....on that big old bass.
He tries to keep 'em all in line.....with a smile on his face."
Then some one else sings a similar story about another band mate.
The song has a bit of a country twang and the verses are sung in a style that will make you want to sing along. The idea is so simple yet so masterful. I'm crazy about this song.
Other tracks on "Silvertone Avenue" include: "Sancho", "Cajun Love", "Woke Up Dead", "Out On The Town", "Good Lord Willing", and "(I Have) Dreams of You".
Although it's been a while, this is the second time I've had the pleasure of working with the Silvertones. Back in 2006 I reviewed another of their great CDs titled "Ride In My Cadillac". Now, having heard "Silvertone Avenue", I'm hoping to be hearing from them on a more regular basis.
The Silvertones can be reached by going to http://thesilvertones.com/purchase.html.
When you check them out, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient
The Silvertones Selected for 2009 International
Blues Challenge in Memphis
The Silvertones featuring Joe Jones were selected
by The North Texas Blues Society to go to Memphis
International Blues Challenge in February,
2009. The 2009 International Blues Challenge
will be the 25th year of blues musicians from
around the world competing for cash, prizes,
and industry recognition. The world's largest
gathering of blues acts represents an international
search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated
organizations for the Blues Band and Solo/Duo
Blues Act ready to take their act to the international
stage.This year, there are 100 bands and 64
solo/duo acts, hailing from 36 states and 9
countries, including Australia, Canada, Croatia,
France, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland and the
United States.They will be filling the clubs
up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals
on Thursday and Friday and the finals at the
Orpheum Theater on Saturday.
Observer 2005 Best Blues Band
You might be surprised at the number of blues
clubs around town: Keys Lounge, Deep Ellum
Blues, Lota's Goat, Hole in the Wall, 6th Street
Grill, J&J's, to name a few. It's hard
to believe they can all stay in business, what
with no radio station to support the genre
like rock, hip-hop and Latin music receive.
Even more interesting is that one band plays
so many of these joints it could single-handedly
keep them all afloat. The Silvertones, three-time
winners of the best blues award, have been
rustling around Dallas since 1993, and to put
that in perspective, blues legend Stevie Ray
Vaughan has been dead only three years longer
than they've been together. It's an appropriate
touchstone, as Leo De La Vega leads his rock-leaning
blues quartet with loud howls and guitar wails
that would make Vaughan a proud papa. The guys
are currently at work on a third LP, and in
the meantime, you can always catch them live.
Don't worry if you miss a show—you'll
just have to wait a couple of days. —Sam
Machkovech, Dallas Observer