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Ride in My Cadillac || Hot in the Hole - Live at Hole in the Wall || Cruisin'

Dallas Observer Music Awards

You voted. We counted. It's your favorite local acts, amplified.
Published: Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Silvertones—2004 Best Blues Band

The Silvertones in actionThey say history forgotten is doomed to be repeated. But, with the blues at least, history forgotten just seems to be forgotten. The blues has become like adult contemporary with a Southern accent, something created by and for the middle-aged and older. Maybe it's because young folks don't have the hardscrabble lives of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, men who lived fast and died young, making their furious mark on the burgeoning blues track, with its depot in Deep Ellum. Or maybe it's because Stevie Ray Vaughan is a guy kids hear about but never actually hear. But now—finally—a club called Deep Ellum Blues has brought blues back into Deep Ellum. And that's good for everybody—fans, bands and anyone willing to listen. The Silvertones—winners of this award three out of the last four years—are excited about this club. A new venue, a new crowd, a new opportunity. The band plays all over town, from Hole in the Wall in Dallas to Up in Smoke in Keller to Tap Inn in Grapevine, spreading the blend of surf rock and traditional blues they've recorded on Cruisin', a studio album, and the live recording Hot in the Hole. The Silvertones—co-founders Randy Ball (drummer-vocalist) and Brian Wicker (stand-up bass player), eight-year member Leo Delavega (a left-handed guitarist who plays a right-handed guitar upside down) and guitarist David Smith (who replaced longtime member Walter Delesandri, who died of a heart attack in June 2003)—are completing another album, but they don't have a label or financing yet. Maybe now they have a better chance. —Shannon Sutlief

Ride in My Cadillac

A. Grigg, REAL BLUES Magazine, Issue No. 30

If you’re not familiar with The Silvertones out of Dallas, Texas, they are your typical Texas Blues Band i.e. they play REAL BLUES, have loads of grit and groove and play-to-the-dance-floor, a mandatory requirement for any decent band out of the Lone Star State. I reviewed one of their CDs several years ago and it was one of my favorite shit-kicking Indie releases. This disc follows their ‘keep-it-real/keep-it-honest’ I.D. with “Ride In My Cadillac” the title cut, jumpin’ out at you with drummer/vocalist Randy Ball sharing the vocal chores with guest Joanna Ramirez.

The Silvertones feature lots of ‘old-fashioned’ guitar pickin' and strummin’, the way it used to sound on 1960s Excello and Goldband Records recordings. No screaming leads with dozens of effects pedals…BUT, if you dig the vintage guitar of Guitar Jr. and Ray Sharpe you’ll love this stuff. And, it’s not someone trying to recreate a bygone sound or era; this is The Silvertone Sound – always has been. (I’d like to mention that on the CD jacket there is a tribute to a long-time Silvertone, Walter Delesandri, recently deceased, who helped create The Silvertone Sound.)

“Down By The Coast” is another catchy example of the distinctive sound of The Silvertones and the thing I need to point out is that their ‘keep-it-simple’ sound is anything-but-simple to execute. They’re all veteran players who’ve grown-up on Freddy King, Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo and their ‘Classic’ sound has become increasingly rare. If I were to mentor a young Blues band I’d give them The Silvertones CDs along with the first two Fabulous Thunderbird albums and, of course, a mess of Excello, Chess and VeeJay 45s.

“She Told Me” is a real nice chuggin’ hip-shaker, a dance-inducer with an understated guitar solo leading up to a real nice ‘burner’ solo. “Let Me Be” has a swingin’ jazz feel to it while “Cayetano” is a Latino-Blues Rhumba instrumental that gives everybody room to groove. Randy Ball is certainly one of Texas’s best Blues drummers. “My Baby Ain’t There” is a rompin’ number that’s guaranteed to pack the dance floor and “Texas Girl” is more of the same, pushed-up a notch; a real hip-shaker with that sweet Chuck Berry/Freddy King hybrid guitar. “Tired Of Crying Over You,” the Jimmy Rogers’ number, gets ‘Texafied’ while “World’s Apart” has that nasty Bo Diddley flavor. “People Think I’m Crazy” the closing number, is a slow one that scores large with its 1957 spooky organ and lots of biting guitar (plus Ball sings his ass off).

This is a wonderful recording by a band that has my utmost respect – they ‘do it’ perfectly…this is Blues Purity from Texas, and Thank God For Texas Music/Musicians. You won’t find phony-balony Blues comin’ out of The Lone Star State and The Silvertones could give lessons in Mojo Power. Five tall sweaty ones for a CD that delivers the Low-down Blues. And, it sounds even better every time you listen to it…a sure sign of Righteousness.

Tom Hyslop, March/April 2006 Blues Revue Magazine, Issue #99

Dallas, Texas’ Silvertones offer upbeat Texas blues stamped with the clear-toned lead guitar of Leo De La Vega and the bouncy, almost rockabilly rhythms of Linn Roath. Drummer Randy Ball is an engaging lead vocalist whose stick work is crisp. “Let Me Be” and “Don’t Seem To Listen” lean toward jazz, “She Told Me” is a country shuffle, and Ball’s slow blues “My Baby Ain’t There” and the Latin-tinged “Cayetano” stand out on the well-paced Ride in My Cadillac (Deep South Productions). Smokin’ Joe Kubek lends his estimable guitar talent to three tracks.

Mark Waterbury, March 2006 Music Morsels

Dallas' Silvertones throw you back to an era of carhops and crew cuts, but have a very subtle punk soul that snags you. Deep rooted in Texas blues but edgy enough to sneak into the rockabilly category. Silvertones seem like a rawer Paladins influenced by Buddy Holly and maybe a bit of early Iggy Pop and Stray Cats. The music is honest, solidly performed and written, and a lot of fun.

Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, © March 2006

If you're playing The Silvertones' new CD, Ride in My Cadillac, while you're ridin' down the road in your Cadillac, or any other vehicle for that matter, be careful when the title track comes on. It's a real hot, fast paced, good old Texas Blues tune that will not only get your motor runnin', it'll get it speeding. When I finally realized it, I was flying down I-95 with both hands rapidly banging on my steering wheel. Fortunately for me, there were no state troopers in my vicinity or I would have been pulled over and found myself having to say....... "But Officer "......which by the way, is the name of the very next song, which just so happens to be about getting pulled over. Hmmmmmm.

Before I get into any more about this hard drivin' disc, I'd like to mention the very talented players responsible for Ride in My Cadillac, which features ten originals out of twelve very strong tracks. On drums and most of the Vocals, is Randy Ball; on guitar and some Vocals is Leo De La Vega; also on guitars (Electric/Baritone/Slide & Steel) and background vocals is Linn Roth; and Mr. Bass-man would be Brian Wicker. Riding shotgun are special guests: Joanna Ramirez, Vocals; Smokin' Joe Kubek, Guitars; Michael McGuire, Guitar; Darrel Rash, Tenor Sax; Rachel McIntruff, Piano and Organ; Michael Ball, Bass.

Other particularly favorite tracks of mine were many. The Balls, Randy and Michael, team up very well on the rhythmatic "She Told Me ". This all too short toe-taper also features lots of great guitar from Smokin' Joe. The rhythm section, which is The Silvertones' strong suit, continues to shine on "Let Me Be " - this time it's Randy and Brian. Not to be slighted, Leo tears it up a bit on guitar as well.

The only instrumental of the lot, and sadly the only track to feature Tenor Saxman Darrel, is "Cayetano". On this one, everyone is in a very laid back, but nevertheless, very tight groove. I could have taken more of this.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I gotta say it. Once again, the rhythm section absolutely blows me away on "Texas Girl "—and this time they have help—with Rachel adding fuel to the fire on piano. Leo gets his share of smoking guitar licks in as well. As a result of hitting replay, this three minute song took me fifteen minutes to listen to. This one rocks. There's no question that when this one's played live, in front of what I'm sure is a hopping crowd, it's the hottest track of the set.

"People Think I'm Crazy"—no, I'm not talking in the first person, that's the name of the last track—happens to be my personal favorite on this wonderful disc. It's blues the way the Blewzzman likes it - raunchy and scorching hot. The vocals are incredible, full of soul and sung with a lot of heart, and the guitar just screams out the blues. It doesn't get much better than this.

I'd like to backtrack a bit here and mention that, in spite of my picture painting of the title track—"Ride in My Cadillac —I never did mention Joanna. She's definitely responsible for some of the track's heat.

This is a band that will no doubt be around for a long while, therefore I'm sure I'll be hearing more from them—and that's a good thing.

Hot In The Hole—Live at Hole in the Wall

Pete "Bootlegger" Barbeck, June 2002 Southwest Blues

Hole in the WallCapturing a band live can be a tricky thing. Sometimes the live energy that an audience experiences, doesn't translate to tape. On Live - Hot In The Hole, recorded at the Hole In The Wall in Dallas, this is not the case. Recorded on a hot Texas summer night, Tthe Silvertones blast away from the git go, and show why they've been voted one of Dallas' best blues bands. Few things go together as well as hot blues and cold beer when it's cooled down to a nice 91 degrees at night. Showing off their strength, The Silvertones slip from one tune right into the next. A number of the cuts are in medley format, with the CD ending up in a 23-minute bluesfest. At the start of the show is "Silvertones Stomp" an upbeat boogie instrumental that warms up the crowd as well as the hands of the two-guitar attack of Mark Scott and Leo De La Vega. With different, but complementary guitar styles, they bring the dynamics up and down, until slipping right into the classic shuffle of "Sugar Mama". Moving through a number of blues styles, "Hucklebuck Jimmy" (jump blues), "Let Me Be" (minor jazz blues), the band gets right with the program of the evening and keeps things interesting and moving. In the middle of the CD is a great minor blues original "I Got Troubles" written by drummer and vocalist Randy Ball, that really gets to the nitty gritty of low-down blues and gives the guitarists an opportunity to set a dark mood and show off some great chops. Throughout, every cut is anchored down by the solid rhythm section of Randy Ball on drums and Brian Wicker on the upright bass. The acoustic bass gives each cut a full sound of authenticity. Recorded by Bill Cornish of Gemtone Productions, all of the instruments come through with clarity, punch and good balance. This CD gives a great indication of why The Silvertones are one of the busiest bands in the DFW area, and a definite crowd favorite. If you like to see what a band can do when it's on the line, live - with no frills, then you will want to pick up a copy at a performance and enjoy some great blues as hot as the night it was recorded on.

Cruisin'

Bill "BoneDaddy" Barnett , August 1999 Southwest Blues Magazine Blues Review

Jump meets swing in this extremely tasteful inaugural release from The Silvertones. A powerful rhythm section featuring Brian Wicker on that big ol' upright doghouse bass and Randy Ball on the skins with some dynamite vocals. Add in Chris Zales on guitar and vocals, and Leo DeLaVega on guitar, and you got yourself a whale of a piece of Swingin' Jump Blues. Your attention will be demanded throughout each tune from the first note. These guys lock together tightly and complement each other extremely well. A sultry guitar entry and we're launched into "Sugar Mama"- ooowee baby—it'll have you swayin' all the way through. "I Don't Care" has a swingin' tempo that personifies the swing feel of the group! Then it's on to a very complimentary cover of Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man." "7 Nights To Rock" is gonna have you rockin'! Whether it's cuttin' a rug at the old dance hall, at home, or driving down the road. They'll let you unwind a little with "Sneakin' Round Town." Next is an instrumental "Cruisin'" which just about puts you on the beach in the '60's again. Then it's a 1-2-3 punch of swing again with "On Down The Road", "Give Me A Break" and "Treat Me This Way." A late '50s touch in "Don't Make Me Cry" makes me wish I were slow dancing on a gymnasium floor somewhere with the prom queen. We catch the band singing to a bottle of whiskey on the last cut "Whiskey On The Shelf" and how true their words are! Although guitar/vocalist Chris Zales is no longer with the quartet, his spot has been more than adequately filled by the guitar virtuoso, Mark Scott, who plays with a fiery vengeance and has the ability to keep an audience captivated with his every note. If this is any indication, these fellows will be around for a long time, swingin' their way into a lot of top nights spots and music stores. Get a copy!

Leo De La VegaDr. B. Lee Cooper - University of Great Falls, Montana

"Sugar Mama", the initial track of Crusin', illustrates the fresh, vibrant guitar lick and spectacular vocal savvy of Chris Zales. The energetic Silvertones rock, roll, shimmy, shade, and swing ("7 Nights to Rock") in a fashion that echoes Bill Haley and his Comets crossed with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. The bluesy " Sneakin' Round Town", featuring vocalization by drummer Randy Ball, is a spectacular model of fire and ice guitar work: the bouncy "Give Me a Break" is a familiar roadhouse plea for female attention, performed in jump time; and the sensitive ballad "Don't Make Me Cry" is a mellow appeal for romantic redemption. These four Texas troubadours are terrific!

Ed Ivey, Blues Bites - Blues Review Magazine

The Silvertones hit a great roadhouse sound on Crusin' (self-released), with a pumpin' string bass, strong traditional sounds and the lead guitar wizardry of Leo De La Vega. A perfect swirl of rockabilly and blues styles. Chris Zales twangs his Danelectro guitar and sings gruff, greasy lines; drummer Randy Ball has a more polished crooning style. Best Cut: the driving instrumental title track, full of smokin' guitar action!

Andy Grigg, Real Blues Magazine - Canada

Obviously big favorites with the low-riders and Chicano R&B audience, Randy Ball and The Silvertones have perfected a gritty guitar-driven groove that is certainly a treat to listen to and probably even more fun to dance to. Propelled by Ball on drums (and vocals on four tunes) and a repertoire of strong originals, the two guitarists, Leo De La Vega and Chris Zales, display an uncanny interplay that make one think back to the days of Lockwood and Tucker of even Lawhorn and Madison with the 1960s Muddy Waters Band. Both are exceptional and imaginative and the ability to complement each other with trade-off fills and rhythm work will have guitarists the world over going gaga over this disc. Even on the few covers they tackle they've got a knack for transforming them completely into their own sound. Ball is a fine shuffle drummer who obviously has studied his craft from the West Coast/Texas perspective, and standup bassist Brian Wicker provides solid pulsing bass throughout. This independent release will make you wish they (The Silvertones) were playing right down the street. Easily one of the best independent blues releases of the last year or two, Crusin' is one to seek out. Five bottles for the creme of California blues-a-billy.

Brian WickerChad Huffman, Entertainment Chronicle - Denton

This week's winner for best new release is by local blues outfit The Silvertones. Crusin', the group's debut, honestly took me by surprise. For the past year and half I've assumed The Silvertones were some silly blues cover band that plays every so often at Leon's Place. But, we all know what happens when you assume. The shiny new disc hops in and out of the various styles of blues music, sometimes swinging hard, other times riding the well-known back -and-forth "blues riff" and other times taking moments to jam on of the many blues scales. All in all, Crusin' is a pretty smoking disc from this Denton-based four piece. The vocals seemed to be mixed a little high, but maybe that's me cranking it up too loud. Whatever the case, Crusin' is a cool CD and I won't be so quick to judge bands by the venues they regular.

Kathleen Ludlow - San Antonio Blues Society

You have to wonder about a band with a return address that reads, "The Colony," Texas. Being a relative newcomer to Texas this is an anomaly that I had not yet encountered. If the Colony has any more bands like The Silvertones it may just be a cool place to hang out. In Cruisin', these fellows play a varity of original and cover music that runs through an interesting range of musical styles. To give you an idea of what they do with the cover material, let's just say that the only cover I was able to recognize immediately was Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man," and that was only after reading the list of song titles. Personally I prefer originals to cover music. But The Silvertones don't just rehash the same old songs. They have taken covers, added their own style and made them sound similar yet very different from the original versions. The CD includes several original tunes that run the range from blues swing to a sound similar to that of Roomful of Blues. The players are Randy Ball on drums and vocals, Bryan Wicker on bass, Leo De La Vega on guitar and Chris Zales on guitar and vocals. Songwriting honors go to Randy Ball, with an honorable mention to Chris Zales for penning track number two, "I Don't Care." Ball wrote the three other original tunes on this disc which are "Cruisin'" on track six, "On Down the Road" on track seven, and "Treat Me This Way" on track nine. The Silvertones have really only played together for the past year or so. The original band was Killer Kyle and The Silvertones, but time and personnel changes honed things down to these four players at the time of the release of this CD. Now, as of the writing of this article, guitarist Chris Zales has moved on and newcomer Mark Scott will be filling the guitar slot. This is one of those CDs that I like to put in a changer, set it on shuffle and let it roll all night long! I do hope that this band can hang together to make at least another CD or two in the near future. I'd like to see/hear an all original playlist from them sometime soon.

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