Tommy Bentz Band – Live In Concert At The Rush River Barn
Self-Release – 2019
15 tracks; 71 minutes
Tommy Bentz is from Wisconsin and has released several albums, this live disc bringing together material from previous releases plus a couple of covers. There are no writing credits listed but I assume that apart from two obvious covers the rest of the songs are Tommy’s. The band is a trio with Tommy on guitar/vocals and a rhythm section of Jason McLean on bass and Adam Burgess on drums.
The album opens with “Lightning In A Bottle”, a driving blues with some strong guitar playing while “Humble” is an extended track with features for both bass and drums, never a highlight of a live recording in this reviewer’s opinion. Catchy mid-paced rockers seems to be the band’s stock-in-trade: “You Were Never Here To Stay” is not blues, but makes a good impression with echoes of millennial rockers like Hootie & The Blowfish or Matchbox 20 to these ears and “It’s Never Enough” similarly hinges on a bouncy riff as Tommy bemoans the fact that the subject of the song has “the brains, the looks, the charms, the hooks – but it’s never enough”. “Warmth Of Your Soul” and “Push And Pull” also have that sort of feel, not blues but pleasant enough. The band can handle melodic harmonies and gentle rhythms as on “Point Of View” and a jazzier feel as on “Shades Of Grey”.
The two covers are Santo And Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” which suits Tommy’s guitar style and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”; Tommy sings it OK but it is just heard too often. After “Ain’t No Sunshine” there are three tracks to close the show: instrumental “King Me” has some good guitar but also another bass/drum feature; Tommy plays some exciting slide on “24 Hour Speed” and closer “Chip On My Shoulder” barrels along on a heavy core riff, one of the tougher tracks here
There is really not a lot of blues here though the music is not unattractive; an album probably aimed at existing fans of the band rather than blues fans.