Thursday, December 01, 2011

Bad Influence's Solid Blues Under The Influence

Bad Influence is a Washington DC area band that this writer has been following for some time. The core of the band is guitarist Michael Tash, harmonica player Roger Edsall (who also doubles on guitar) and bassist Bob Mallardi with David Thaler on drums. When I first saw them perform they also had a saxophonist bout they have been a quartet for some time and have developed into a tight band that can jump the boogie, swing the shuffle and slow drag a three in the morning blues. 

The fact they have played together for such a long material underlies the bands tight group sound and emphatic playing with each other. They have also developed into quite accomplished players with Tash a versatile guitarist able to channel Elmore James and Albert King with sharply focused and thoughtful solos while Edsall is amongst the DC area’s finest harp players able to distill Little Walter, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, Sonny Boy Williamson and Slim Harpo into a personal style

They have a new album Under The Influence that consists of mostly originals with Mallardi taking most of the vocals with Edsall handling a few. A bit of Dust My Broom slide guitar from Roger Edsall forms part of the foundation of the opening Man Child, while the band gets a hot shuffle going on Hey Red with Mallardi inviting his lady to party till the break of dawn and it sounds like the band will jitterbug all night long with Tash and Edsall taking incisive solos. A bit of southern blues rock seasoning is heard on the driving Do As I Say, with Edsall adding organ effects on his harp accompaniment and gets to strut a bit during a solo break. 

Edsall handles the vocal on Sugar Daddy Baby, a fine shuffle with Tom Ruggieri added on saxophones in the backing. This performance strikes the right groove and tempo and will be a delight for swing dancers not to mention to some jazzy single note fretwork from Tash. Nothing wrong with a bit of rock and roll (not hard rock) on the rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Run Through The Jungle, with another Edsall vocal. Edsall also adds slide guitar and harmonica while Tash employs some atmospheric tremolo in support. “Cat Fight II:PTP: is a spirited harmonica feature that showcases Edsall’s imaginative and expressive playing with guest Jay Monterose taking the guitar solo here. A nice strutting shuffle follows on Looking Right At Me

Bad Influence at Surf Club Live in Hyattsville MD in October 2011.
A solid rendition of As The Years Go Passing By, has Tash in part evoking Albert King as Mallardi delivers a heartfelt vocal on a song originally recorded by the great Fenton Robinson for Duke. Besides Tash’s inspired guitar, Edsall has a choice harp solo, followed by a hot guitar chorus. Mark Stephens adds boogie inflected piano behind Edsall’s vocal on Room 111, where it sounds like quite a party is going on. Mailbox Blues has a swamp blues feel with a strong latin accent in the rhythm. 

Under the Influence is a terrific album of blues with an occasional rock and roll accent that is sure to delight Bad Influence’s existing fans and gain them new ones. It is available from the band’s website, and at, and you can sample this at

Bad Influence provided me with a download of this recording.

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