Kelly Bell Band – Know My Name
CD: 13 Songs, 53:00 Minutes
Styles: R&B, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, All Original Songs
R&B and the blues have always been kissing cousins. Indeed, that’s what the “B” stands for, and distinguishing the two can be difficult. R&B hallmarks include a focus on crooning vocals and a big-band sound. These are vividly present on Know My Name by Baltimore’s Kelly Bell Band. Originally formed as the backup ensemble for rock-and-roll pioneer Bo Diddley, KBB has been touring the world ever since, entertaining fans in Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany and more. Their debut album, Phat Blues Music, remains one of the best-selling releases in Mid-Atlantic region history. They’ve got it all: dynamic singing, high-energy instrumentation, killer lyrics, and an overall atmosphere of peace, love and harmony. All lucky thirteen tracks are originals. The only head-scratcher? Number six, “Gimmick Infringement?”, featuring three sounds: “BOMP-BOMP, WHOOO!” It’s a separate track, believe it or not. Does it have a backstory? Ms. Wetnight would love to hear it, and in the meantime, she encourages blues fans to enjoy the rest.
Kelly “The Bluesman” Bell is joined by vocalist Rahsaan “Wordslave” Eldridge, guitarists Ryan Fowler and Eric Robinson, Frankie Hernandez on bass, John Robert Buell on drums, and Dane Paul Russell on harmonica. Guest stars include Ira Mayfield, Jr. on acoustic guitars, Kirk Myers on keys and vocals, and Russell McCray on alto sax. Special guest artists include Justin Schlegel and Adam Lacarino. Additional musicians in the KBB family are Bryan Ewald on guitar and the Phat Blues Horn Section: Davidson Smith and Zack Smith on trumpet, Leigh Pilzer on trumpet and baritone sax, and Todd Baldwin on trombone. Additional vocals are provided by Kristin Lagana, Michelle Herring, Navasha Daya, Jill Davolio, Brooks Long, Julie Cymek, Dave Tieff, Ron Eldridge, and Jamaal “Black Root” Collier.
It’s almost impossible to pick the three best songs on this album, but here goes everything.
Track 02: “Last $4” – Even if you’re broke, you can still have a good time on the dance floor by putting your “last $4 in the jukebox” and persuading your partner to join you. The invitation is pure and simple, with a refreshing lack of raunchiness. “Understand, when you take my hand, oh, what a time it’ll be.” Dane Paul Russell’s harmonica is the perfect complement to the horn section, adding a modern twist to this song’s classic style. Play air guitar in the middle, too!
Track 06: “Know My Name” – The album’s title track has one of the most haunting, melodious intros of 2019, giving yours truly chills down her spine. The song’s subject is just as scary: “Papa said, ‘Son, I love you, but me and your mama don’t see eye-to-eye. When it’s all said and done, you’re gonna know my name. When it’s all said and done, you’re gonna know my name.” Finally, a blues/R&B track about keeping family ties strong even after a breakup or divorce.
Track 07: “I’m Gone!” – One’s relationship with one’s supervisor, however, need not be so long-standing. The end to this song is hilarious, depicting one final chew-out before the old heave-ho. “I’ve never spin-kicked anybody. . .No need for name-calling and histrionics.” The boss says, “I don’t know what ‘histrionics’ means!” Fed up with your job? Hit “repeat” on number seven.
Know My Name will make one want to know the Kelly Bell Band a lot better. It’s fantastic!