Thursday, December 22, 2016

Nick Schnebelen Band Live at Knuckleheads Vol. 1

Nick Schnebelen Band
Live at Knuckleheads Vol. 1

Part of the International Blues Challenge winning sibling band, Trampled Under Foot (and selected for the Albert King Guitar Award at the time), Nick Schnebelen now leads his own band and VizzTone has issued their debut album, "Live at Knuckleheads Vol. 1," recorded at the famed Kansas City club. The singer and guitarist is joined by Heather Newman on guitar and vocals, Cliff Moore on bass and Joe Voye on drums for a hard rocking collection of blues and blues-infused roots rock.

Schnebelen and Newman share vocals with Newman being the more engaging singer, while Schnebelen is uneven. He comes across well on the rockabilly tinged opening track "I'm Goin'" but his heavier approach on the blues-rock Muddy Waters' influenced "Break of Day" (akin to "Walking Blues") is not as natural sounding. There may be a touch of country in Newman's vocals and there are times I wish Newman would tone her singing down at spots, but this is a quibble as her phrasing and pitch is spot on her performances, and this is also a recording of a live performance.

Schnebelen's guitar is quite fiery and inventive. He might rock a bit for my taste, but when he picks up the slide and quotes Muddy's "I Be's Troubled" backing Heather on "Tailgate Swing," his considerable technical skills and musical sense is quite evident. he is quite a player and he ably takes the heat down on the low-key "Who Will Comfort Me." Perhaps he bellows his vocal a bit on his forceful, and fresh, rendition of "Spoonful," with Heather adding vocal backing. Then he picks up the steel guitar for a nice cover of the Santo and Johnny's hit "Sleep Walk."

A terrific cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" further illustrates the band's virtuosity followed by an high-energy rendition of the Gary US Bonds hit "New Orleans" with  Hound Dog Yaylor meets George Thorogood slide backing the husky vocal that ends this  animated and highly engaging live blues and roots set that will have many wanting more.

I received a review copy from VizzTone. Here is a video of them in performance.

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