Describing the Four Barrel Blues Band as a class act is the best way to sum what this band has to offer. They’re all classy players, stylish but without excesses and what they form as an ensemble meshes together in much the same way. Drummer Stephen Bird is an articulate player who lays out a solid backbeat without becoming heavy. Glen Perry employs a fretless bass to reinforce the time signature and provide a melodic foundation with sustained notes that type of bass delivers. They’re harder to play than conventional models because of their demand for such an exact knowledge of where “the right” spots are on the neck but the way their notes tend to hang slightly as the next ones are being introduced gives their sound a musical sonority that’s both unique and, in the right hands, tasty.
Together, Perry and Bird formed a rhythm section that drove the music with the smoothness that would be expected from the engine of a Rolls-Royce — laid back but with a sense of energy needed to charge forward like a jet or climb mountains with the ease that comes when a vehicle’s power plant is blessed with seemingly unlimited torque. What they had was deceptive as well, basically creeping up on listeners like the realization of what luxury cars have under hoods does, hence the analogy.
Guitarists Chris Jenniskens and Rick Seed played off the foundation their partners served up with flair and class. Both were solid on lead or rhythm parts and their styles, along with the distinctly different sounds of their instruments, created a contrast their weaving of parts a thing of beauty. Seed’s Gibson had the rich timbre that makes the sound of those guitars delectably sweet, but not sugary. It was particularly captivating when he used a slide. The Stratocaster played by Jenniskens had that rawness that somehow lands as a caress that’s sexy when received and leaving the afterglow that can be savoured for a while. The musical conversations between them were never short of delicious.
They threaded themselves nicely around Jenniskens’ singing. His voice had a good range, strong expressive qualities and his pitch was generally very good. It was also a solid fit for most of the material the group chose, which is all important. Their material featured classic rock by groups like ‘Traffic’ and blues numbers such as ‘Mustang Sally’ and B.B. King’s ‘The Thrill is Gone’. It was a list accessible to audiences both young and older characterized by improvisation that came together well because the members listened to each other and practised the restraint needed to keep what they did impeccably tasteful. The crowd that gathered in the Cheeky Monkey for the March First Friday celebration obviously appreciated it because most stayed and listened for a long time.
It was a great night of music.
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