Bring on the blues

New discs on tap by Roomful, Al Basile, and Ronnie Earl
By BOB GULLA  |  December 4, 2007
ROOMinside
DAVE’S DEBUT: Howard [top left] raises a ruckus with Roomful.

There’s lots of music in store just around the proverbial corner for local music aficionados, much of which will plaster a smile on blues brothers’ faces. I’ve got my meat hooks on Raisin’ a Ruckus, the upcoming album by Roomful of Blues due out early next year on Alligator. It’s the Rhody titans’ first disc since Standing Room Only in 2005 and it marks the recording bow of new vocalist Dave Howard. As is customary on Roomful albums, they’ve excavated some pretty obscure, pretty great gems to go with a healthy handful of originals, the likes of which I’ll explain later, when you can get your own meat hooks on the record.
 
In the same vein, Al Basile, founding horn player with Roomful going back 40 years, also has a new album forthcoming. The Tinge, due in February on the Sweetspot imprint, showcases the versatile Basile’s way with R&B and the blues. Of interest to local music historians will be the presence of Duke Robillard (who produced the album), Rich Lataille, and Doug James, collectively known as half of the original Roomful lineup. Notable sidemen Bruce Katz, Marty Ballou, and Mark Teixeira also help put it all together.
 
And speaking of Roomful alums in the spotlight, transcendent guitarist Ronnie Earl — who often shies way from attention — is back hanging with the Duke on Duke’s own label home, Stony Plain. I Feel Like Going On is due in January. As a guitar player, Earl is less a curator of musical history and more a sonic adventurer. But those keeping track of blues guitar need only hear Earl and Robillard to know what’s going on out in the wider world of the blues.
 
Outside the blues idiom, Six Star General and Heather Rose and the Drama are releasing discs. Six Star General’s Sick Stars, Sister Cyst is a collection of new songs, covers, a remix, unreleased four-track recordings, and live radio show performances. The disc includes a remix by the Masons’ Kraig Jordan and covers of CCR, Butthole Surfers, and Jonathan Richman.
 
Heather Rose and the Drama have also gotten into the spontaneous mood. Rose and the boys recorded a practice and turned it into a nifty limited-edition holiday disc, With a Grain of Salt. It’s referred to as a “holiday” album because there’s a song titled “A Disgruntled Ant and His Letter to Santa.” The album features acoustic versions of some of the band’s songs and, according to Heather, a few surprises, too. While we’re sure this and other tracks will provide oodles of pleasure — it’s been a while since Rose released anything of note — the recording doubles as a fundraiser for the band’s proper electric album, which they’re attempting to see through as we speak.

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