Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen – Blues I
5 songs – 22 minutes
Based out of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen who deliver a unique sound as they capture the spirit of 1960s blues-rock power trios and fuse it with grooves styled along the lines of guitar gods Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin.
The unit is led by former child prodigy Douglas, who handles guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. One of the most sought-after sessions players in Northeastern Pennsylvania and now a seasoned touring veteran, he made his performing debut at age 13 and has remained active ever since.
His first band, the power trio Lemongelli, released three independent albums and served as opening act to several top acts, including Cheap Trick, Eddie Money and Def Leppard. Later, he joined The Badlees, legendary rockers in the Keystone State, appearing on the CD Epiphones And Empty Rooms and supporting Bob Seger on his 2013 arena tour.
As a front man, he released two more albums as a soloist before deciding to delve deeply into his blues-rock roots. He and The Electric Gentlemen – bassist Matt “The Dane” Gabriel and drummer Tommy Smallcomb – have been together since 2015. Their first, self-titled release sold out of its first pressing, leading up to this EP, which includes four covers and one original.
The band kicks off “Boom Boom” with a heavy, in-unison, four-note stop-time beat that runs better than 20 seconds before Dustin’s voice – sweet and strong and perfectly behind the beat — joins in with the familiar lyrics that John Lee Hooker delivered for about 60 years, backed by the equally familiar musical accompaniment. Once the words, however, he and his rhythm section waste no time before turning the number into a full-on blues-rock. After a brief segment, they’re in total control as they return to the root for another verse before reverting once more. It’s an ear- and eye-opening winner.
Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer,” which follows, opens with a heavy succession of guitar chords atop an unhurried shuffle beat. It’s faithful to Mud’s styling, albeit with a dense feel on the bottom as Douglas delivers the words. His mid-tune solo is strong, tasty and shred-free. Written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones, Albert King’s standard, “Born Under A Bad Sign,” receives similar treatment, as does Freddie King’s “Big Legged Woman,” delivered unrushed but at a pace quicker than the original with Dustin riffing on six-string throughout, sometimes on the verge of psychedelia, but always in complete control.
The brief disc concludes with the only original in the set. Entitled “No More Tears To Cry,” it’s a ballad that picks up speed as it describes coming home to discover that the lady of the house had packed up and gone while the singer. Built atop a simple guitar hook, it’s a pleasing blues that remains true to itself with a Hill Country feel.
Available through Amazon, Blues I makes you yearn for more. It’s blues-rock in its best form, something that dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists will enjoy despite the rock overtones. And, fortunately, you won’t have to wait long for a follow-up. Douglas and The Electric Gentlemen have a full-length CD ready for release on the immediate horizon.