Dave Kalz – Relish | Album Review

Dave Kalz – Relish

Gulf Coast Records


CD: 11 Songs, 42 Minutes

Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, Southern Rock, Debut Album, All Original Songs

Constant Readers, if you crave shredded shredder, here’s a recipe to Relish: an Allman Brothers base broth, Eric Clapton’s meaty musical style, a pinch of Santana and a dash of Joe Walsh. That’s the guitar gumbo Midwestern bluesman Dave Kalz serves up on his debut album. Consisting of eleven all-original selections, it’s sure to satisfy your appetite for licks, riffs, and blistering solos. To top it off, Kalz has been mentored by one of the country’s most famous postmodern blues brewers: Mike Zito. Having been friends for three decades now, it’s fitting that they’d join up to create a debut CD that will leave listeners’ ears with a spicy glow after it’s done. Kalz’s Southern-rock stew doesn’t quite top that of the OG’s I mentioned earlier, but whose can, especially the first time around? Dave earns high marks for presentation. His vocals do the job every time, and he lets his savory instrument of choice add the rest of the flavor.

“When I first met Mike Zito, he was working at Metro Guitar Shop in St. Louis and playing in a country band with a DJ from a popular St. Louis radio station,” recalls our front man. “I was playing in a St. Louis band that had become very popular on a local level. Mike and I immediately hit it off. We heard a lot of the same tones in our heads and listened to a lot of the same music; we saw the world from similar points of view…and we shared a love for Fender Telecasters. We’ve been friends ever since, and when I knew I was going to put out this record, I wanted to do it with Mike.  It was never a question of ‘if,’ just a question of ‘when.’”

Mixing it up along with Kalz (guitar and vocals) and Zito (slide and other guitar) are Greg Hulub on bass and backing vocals; Kevin McDonald on drums; Lewis Stephens on organ for the opener “Mexico,” and Tony Campanella on guest-star guitar for the closer.

To start things off, head south of the border with habanero-hot “Mexico.” You’ll swear Greg Allman played the intro, if not his legendary brother Duane. The song combines the blazing heat of the desert, which he mentions, with the poignancy that Kalz’s prime influences bring. The title track has the tempo of a late-night stroll through the bar and club district of a midsize city, and Dave’s vocals are a pure homage to the aforementioned Joe Walsh. Since this is a mid-pandemic album, of course there’s an ode to quarantine: “Now I can’t go shopping, can’t go downtown. I’m stucker than stuck in this old Rust Belt town.” No matter where we are, we can all relate. “Route 666” (no typo) possesses a fiery intro, and at the end of the line, enjoy a jaunty jam called “Playing the Blues with my Friends.” It’s the perfect dessert to satisfy your blues sweet tooth.

Overall, Relish is a well-crafted, commendable effort perfect for live crowds, once they’re safe to be in. Yours truly can imagine these musicians commanding a throng of hundreds outdoors, or scores indoors. Whatever your pleasure, Dave Kalz aims to fill it with his debut smorgasbord!

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