It’s always a great pleasure to see blues harp (harmonica) great David Rotundo in concert. Rotundo’s type of blues is the real deal -- the healing blues that makes the real blues go away. Such was a recent warm June night at the beginning of the summer for this writer, and a cheering packed house at Southside Johnny’s .. a blues hangout in Toronto’s west end Etobicoke area.
The energy in the room was contagious, and the good vibes coming from the crowd and the blues onstage was really something to feel. The blues came hard and fast .. full of energy and imagination .. exuberance to the max from the musicians in Rotundo’s band -- with David at the blues helm, belting out one high energy blues tune after another on lead vocals and blues harp.
The audience ate it up in droves, and came back for more. The David Rotundo Band features David Rotundo on lead vocals and blues harp; Dan Dufour on lead and rhythm guitar; bassman/sidekick Shane Scott on electric bass (and sometimes upright) along with Des Brown on rhythm/2nd lead guitar. Rotundo’s regular drummer Chuck Keeping couldn’t make it to this gig, so bassist Scott brought along a drum kit from his award-winning Bassline recording studio, and planned to sit in on drums for part of this evening and have Des on bass, but that proved unnecessary. As fate would have it, a superb drummer named Claude Kent subbed in on drums most of this evening and winged it just right!
Guitarist Dufour, who is Rotundo’s regular lead guitar player, was enjoying a night off. Despite this, he showed up and joined in on guitar many times during this evening. Dufour played some of the most incredible, emotionally charged blues leads any blues fan could ever hope to hear .. and certainly freed this writer from his blues, with a 'flick of his guitar pick' -- as did Rotundo’s always high-energy performance on harp and vocals onstage.
Scott was trying out his recently acquired ’72 Gibson EBO electric bass during this performance, and his bottom end bass lines really came through mellow and deep. His high end came through quite well too, on many fine leads, due to the addition of some round wound strings that helped his bass playing have a nice even flow.
Guitarist Marcel Banal (originally from Montreal), also sat in for most of this evening. His blues leads were fantastic, and were complemented by his expert use of wah-wah, which added some variety and imagination to the many original blues songs Maple Blues-winning/Juno-nominated Rotundo and his band played. Brown's use of wah-wah and lead was equally mind-blowing!
The only thing that would have made this evening of very special blues even more special would have been the addition of Maple Blues-winning/Juno-nominated blues piano man/vocalist (and Electro-Fi recording artist) Julian Fauth, who started in the blues with Rotundo, but now has his own blues band. Fauth was playing nearby, but not near enough to make it by this night, unfortunately.
David featured a few songs from his upcoming live CD, entitled David Rotundo Band - Live at Roc ‘n’ Docs -- which bassist Shane (who’s also this CDs award-winning recording engineer in his Bassline studio), says should be for sale within a few weeks. There will also be a new studio CD out too but in a few months.
From Rotundo’s debut Blowin’ For Broke CD in 2001 -- through Blues Ignited in 2004, featuring special guest guitarist and close friend Enrico Crivellaro, Rotundo has managed to maintain a high level of excellence in performance and recording clarity, that is some of the best original blues on the market today. His live performances always excel, and can cure the blues the way the blues is supposed to be cured.
As rockabilly legend Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins has said many times, "David Rotundo plays the blues the way it’s supposed to be played!" Who can argue with a legend like The Hawk? Plainly said and truthful to the core .. Rotundo is the real blues .. the real deal and what you hear is the best around!