Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires featuring James “Rock” Gray
Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires third CD, “Voodoo Workin’”, was released this Sept. by Blues Degree Records. This band is made up of some very talented musicians lead by Steve Gerard, an accomplished guitarist who has shared the stage with Hubert Sumlim, Albert Collins and Anson Funderburgh to name a few. Joining Gerard for this recording is Mike “Shinetop Jr.” Sedovic playing piano and the B3 organ and Greg Demchuk is blowing the harmonica. Doug “Mr. Low” James joins in with his saxophone and Preston Hubbard adds the bass line to the mix. Beating his way on the drums the band has Dwight Ross Jr. doing a swell job.
James “Rock” Gray is the featured vocalist on “Voodoo Workin”’. Gray’s vocals as well as his song writing ability bring a bunch to this recording. Three of the tunes on the CD were penned by Gray and they bring a lot of emotion to the mix. James Gray’s voice, to me, has that laid back, sincere feeling it that reminds me of Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell. This style is easy to listen to and also gets one into the blue mood. Before doing Voodoo Workin’ James Gray, who is 71 years old, had not been recorded. Thanks to Steve Gerard for getting this done.
“Voodoo Workin’, the opening tune on the CD, give to us the feeling of New Orleans style blues. Steve Gerard shows off a bunch of his fine guitar work while Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic treats us to some really outstanding B3 organ soloing. This tune has a certain eerie quality to it that also introduces us to James Gray’s outstanding vocals. At only two minutes in length, this song just gets us into the mood and then just dumps us off.
This recording project, from Steve Gerard, showcases three songs written by James Gray. His lyrics are the real deal tales of life that are produced from the heart of this man. They seem to have that certain grittiness to them about hard times and love of one’s life. “One Of These Days” is probably the song from “Voodoo Workin’ that I enjoy the most. Again the B3 sounds, produced by the talent of Mike Sedovic, stand out and also highlight the heartfelt vocals of James Gray. His vocals just have a pure blues quality to them that are grabbed by the ears. This is really a good tune to take in.
“Ain’t Going To Let Her Go” features Greg “Junior” Demchuck playing some of his real deal blues harmonica. His playing is really a swell addition to this recording of this Jimmy Anderson tune. This track also highlights all the talents of Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires. This is really an outstanding band. We get the powerful feel of the drum beat going on here with the piano plunking along as well. The harp has gone into the high pitch blues mood on this song along with a bunch more B3 backup. Steve Gerard throws in a bunch of guitar licks along with James Gray’s vocals making this tune another standout one from “Voodoo Workin”.
Steve Gerard did a fine job of mixing up types of tunes on this CD recording to give us insight to the quality of the musicians of the Debonaires. At the same time Steve Gerard stands out as a fine guitarist as well. Adding James Gray’s one of a kind talent to “Voodoo Workin” makes it a memorable recording. My only problem with this CD is that it is only about 31 minutes long and just leaves me wanting more of it.
Reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis