CD: 12 Songs; 49:51 Minutes
Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Electric Blues, Blues Rock
Anyone who’s ever had the blues knows that they don’t stay the same. One’s reasons for sadness shift and change. That’s what the Texas-based No Refund Band demonstrates well on their sophomore album, Current State of Blue. Most of its selections relate to love-based trouble. However, whatever their form, music is a universal cure-all.On twelve songs (nine originals and three rather unnecessary covers), they show considerable prowess on instrumentation such as lead guitar and horns. Lead singer Ricky Jackson’s vocals are slightly reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s, but with less crystal clarity.
The No Refund Band is an ensemble starring Ricky Jackson on lead guitars (both electric and acoustic) and vocals; Mike Crownover (the band’s founder) on rhythm and lead electric guitars; Rik Robertson on bass and vocals; Jim Brady on trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion and vocals; and Anthony Terry on soprano, tenor, baritone saxes and vocals. Additional musicians include Paul English on trumpet, piano and synthesizer; Travis Doyle on Hammond B3 organ; Randy Wall on piano; Kelly Dean on alto sax; Warren Sneed on tenor sax; Tyson Sheth on drums and percussion, and fellow guest drummers Joey Riggins, Walter Cross, and Mike Burch.
The following original songs give the best “bang for one’s buck,” as the saying goes:
Track 01: “Buy the Blues” – No one would pay a cent to experience the blues – failed romance, being broke, job hassles, etc. However, mastery in playing the blues is absolutely priceless. “You can have a lot of money, have a lot of money, it’s true. You can have a lot of money, but you’re never going to buy the blues.” The entire band is in full swing on this traditional track, from the dominant electric guitar to the delightfully high-strung horn section.
Track 02: “Current State of Blue” – This cool, laid-back and jazz-influenced tune will put one in a mellow mood – perfect for sipping a drink or holding someone close. “You drive around in your brand new shiny car, and there’s a real big chance I really never know where you really are,” our narrator sulks. “When you have a minute, call me up and say, ‘Where the hell are you?’ I’m sitting here alone. That’s my current state of blue.” Check out the sizzling saxophone solo.
Track 05: “Love Unmade” – In the style of the band Santana, number five is a spicy Latin rocker. Tyson Sheth keeps his dynamo drums rolling, but the real star of this song is Ricky Jackson’s soliloquy on acoustic guitar. In fact, several keen instrumentalists take turns making musical speeches. The most valuable venue for this ballad is a live show. It’ll get crowds on their feet.
The No Refund Band performed at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, having won the Houston Blues Society challenge. They performed at BB King’s on Beale on January 21 and 22. One thing’s certain: their Current State of Blue is red-hot!