BlueHouse Project – BlueHouse Project
CD: 11 Songs, 44:04 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
One of the most riveting new releases on DVD is Fences, featuring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as its lead couple. The movie centers around Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker in 1950’s Pittsburgh. He’s a man of simple tastes – beer, soul food, kicking back with his longtime friend Bono, and most of all, baseball. Even though he lives in a big city, urbane sophistication is as alien to him as any Martian would be. That’s no loss: Troy represents the salt of the earth. So is Memphis’ Ron Fetner, lead vocalist and guitarist of the BlueHouse Project. His self-titled debut album is a prime example of earthy ensemble blues, lacking the flash and bang of other artists. To tell the truth, Fetner and friends don’t need it. They play with a heartwarming energy that’s as comfortable to bask in as a fire on a chilly Halloween night. Fetner’s voice, although it lacks grit and any discernible trace of cigarette or whiskey-gravel, is as clear as HD TV pics. On eleven original songs, he and his fellow musicians provide a Project of soul-food blues rock.
How did they come to form such an ensemble, anyway? Their website provides a concise answer: “These longtime musical friends were reunited in 2013 while performing at the ‘Bayou’s Last Call’ concert celebrating the release of the documentary movie, The Bayou, DC’s Killer Joint. What started as a casual remark, ‘We should get together, do some shows,’ turned into BlueHouse Project. Then songwriter Ron Fetner gathered up a bunch of new songs and they all headed into the studio. The outcome was a new band and CD, both called BlueHouse Project.”
The BlueHouse Project consists of Fetner on guitar and lead vocals; Mike Tramonte on keyboard, piano and vocals; Tom McCarthy on bass and vocals; and Corey Holland on drums. Featured guest stars include harpist Mark Wenner, Tim Tanner on guitars and vocals; Randy Short on drums; Rich Ridolfino on bass; Jordan Ponzi on upright bass; and harmonica player Tom Dikon on track eleven. Mike Caffi, Bobby Read and Scott Ramminger are the sax crew.
The following three tracks are the best examples of the earthy ensemble blues on the docket.
Track 02: “Black Widow Spider” – One of the most lethal arachnids on Earth, the female of the species is exactly what certain human women most resemble. A danceable Chicago-style tune, this should have been the album’s opener instead of “Piece of my Heart.” Mark Wenner’s hot harp sounds the warning cry to unwary males, and the refrain is one you can’t help but sing.
Track 04: “White Cotton” – The word “system” often follows the word “prison,” offering a rather cryptic description. What kinds of products does it produce? For one, railroads, at least in the olden days: “They put me up on the chain gang, just to break my spirit and bones. The hammer hurts my body, but I dare not say a thing. I need to fill this bucket, hear this hammer ring.” Our narrator yearns for the sweet release of death, and the lining of his own casket. What awaits him far sooner than that, however? Being “put down in some dungeon” and going insane when he can no longer slave on the railroad line. There’s great slide here from Tim Tanner.
Track 11: “Black Cat Blues (For Velvet)” – As a cat lover, I had to include this. When one’s furry friend has passed away, one of the best things to do is to play a loving ode. It’s mellow and low-key, unlike my own favorite feline, Sasha. However, maybe it’ll calm him down a little.
The earthy BlueHouse Project will satisfy those who yearn for clear and simple ensemble blues!