CD: 12 Songs; 52:22 Minutes
Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Electric Blues, Blues Rock
“2013 International Blues Challenge 3rd Place.” So states the back cover of the latest album from Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band, while the front proclaims they were Born to Love the Blues. Indeed so, for as blues promoter and writer Skyy Dobro says, “I’ve played Dan Treanor a lot on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show [now in syndicated reruns].” When artists’ reputations precede them, the result is a double-edged sword. Will they surpass their fans’ high standards once again? Treanor and his posse deliver a musical guarantee. This ensemble achieves what I call the “Blues Trifecta” – vibrant vocals, laudable lyrics, and innovative instrumentation.
The band’s website states: “Born in 1947 and raised in Pueblo, Colorado, Dan Treanor began playing guitar at the age of fifteen. Discovering the blues and R&B through a local radio station, KAPI, he developed a lifelong passion for the root of all popular American music…” His current offering with the Afrosippi Band features two dynamic divas named Erica Brown and Merrian Johnson (known as MJ) on lead vocals. They propel this album through the stratosphere on eight original songs and four covers. The only flaw is on the back cover of the CD itself: tracks 10 and 11 should be switched around. “Mississippi Fred’s Dream” comes first, with a running time of 6:02, and then “Missing”, running time 5:38.
Along with Treanor, as he plays harp, guitar and an African instrument called the khalam, are Michael Hossler on guitar and lap steel guitar, Scott Headley on drums, Jack Erwin on bass guitar, Gary Flori on congas, and Bill Shannon on bass guitar for selections five and nine. As mentioned earlier, Erica Brown and MJ sing their souls out, and then some!
Picking the “best” out of twelve fantastic songs is nearly impossible, but here’s a good shot:
Track 02: “Done Got Old” – People react differently to the passing-by of Father Time. Some get sad; some get mad; others get downright furious. Need proof? Listen to Treanor’s raging harp. Erica Brown ruefully lays it on the line: “When the 10:00 news comes on the TV, I’m sitting on the sofa with my aching knee, ‘cause I done got old. I done got too old. I done got too old to boogie-woogie all night long.”
Track 05: “A Change is Going to Come” – Merrian Johnson takes spectacular vocal lead on this heart-rending Sam Cooke cover. “I was born by a river, in a tenement. My poor mother, she could hardly pay the rent. It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is going to come.” What a perfect song to listen to on MLK, Jr. Day, celebrating his unrealized dream.
Track 11: “Missing” – Mistakenly listed as track ten, this hard-bitten accusation with a serpentine beat (to which one could belly-dance) minces no words: “You said, you said, you said you would come back home. I’m waiting, I’m waiting, I’m waiting. I’m here all alone.” This is MJ’s finest display of her vocal talents, especially on a mid-tempo, grinding stomp that other artists might downplay.
Were they Born to Love the Blues? Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band knows it, and shows it!