Jon Spear Band review….March 11, 2016…

JON SPEAR BAND

LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER

SELF-RELEASED

DEVIL’S HIGHWAY–NOTHING TO NOBODY–SHAKE YOUR BOOGIE–BEFORE THE BULLETS FLY–CISSY STRUT–HAVE YOU EVER LOVED A WOMAN–BLUES ABOUT YOU BABY–I LOVE MY SKIN–PAID IN FULL–BEGINNER AT THE BLUES–LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER

The Jon Spear Band consists of some of central Virginia’s finest players, and last year released their debut, “Old Soul,” to high praise.  (Reviewed elsewhere within this forum.)  Appearing before a raucous “hometown crowd,” at the Southern Cafe’ And Music Hall in Charlottesville, they have just released “Live Music Is Better.”  It is twelve cuts that mix clever originals and well-chosen covers that definitely pleased this crowd.

The core band remains constant–Jon Spear on guitar and vocals, Dara James on vocals, guitar, and harp, John Stubblefield on drums, and Andy Burdetsky on bass.  For this affair, Adrian Duke joins the fun on keys, and Haywood Giles is on sax.

The party starts literally down at the Crossroads with one of the band’s best numbers–a tale of the gypsy woman and her magic powder and the caveat that “if you ride the Devil’s Highway, you gotta pay the Devil’s toll!”  They turn up the heat with some smooth soul-flavored blues with Dara’s read on the Michael McDonald/Robben Ford nugget, “Nothing To Nobody,” and again on the poignant original tale of a cheatin’ lover that leads Dara to declare that “the heartache that I owed is Paid In Full.”  This one features Jon on acoustic guitar.

Adrian Duke is on piano and lead vocal on the Big Easy-inspired tale of tolerance, “I Love My Skin,” and the set closes with a houserockin’ shot of true advice for us all–“Live Music Is Better,”  featuring Haywood on the sax.

We had two favorites, too.  The fellows lay down a sweet Chicago-styled blues groove as Jon takes lead vocal and Dara blows some serious harp on “Shake Your Boogie!”  And, the highlight of the set, for us, belonged to Dara James and his slow-burnin’ blues guitar lines on the classic “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”

During the program, Jon Spear introduces the band, and declares himself the luckiest man alive to be associated with such a stellar group of players.  They bring an imaginative style that lends itself well to a live setting, and the good times sho’ nuff rolled on “Live Music Is Better!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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