The Devil May Care
Guitarist Chris Avey met vocalist Jeni Grouws at a blues jam in the Quad Cities. The Quad Cities area is a region of five cities in southeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. They formed the Avey Grouws Band in 2017 and won the Iowa Blues Challenge sending them to the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. They reached the semi-finals and later that same year released their EP “Road To Memphis”. They returned to the IBC in 2020 and again reached the semi-finals.
Grouws has been named “a rising star” by Blue Monday Monthly, the blues entertainment tabloid in Minnesota. Guitarist Avey has been compared to both Coco Montoya and Robben Ford. The band’s name pronounced EH-Vee Grouse is rounded out by keyboardist Nick Vasquez; and the rhythm section of Randy Leasman, bass; and Brian West, drums. All of the songs are written by Grouws and Avey.
The recording opens with Grouws encouraging her man to “Come And Get This Love” on a danceable mixture of rhumba and swing. Grouws sings of forbidden love on the title track while Avey employs an Albert Collins styled riff. On “Rise Up” drummer West hammers out a New Orleans street beat. “Let’s Take It Slow” is a doo-wop flavored sentimental love song. The band rocks out on “Long Road” about the wide open Iowa plains.
Grouws channels Bessie Smith on the roadhouse shuffle “Let Me Sing My Blues”; she is a great vocalist with a unique vocal register. “Weary” is about falling off to sleep after a busy day. Grouws gets playful again on “Dirty Little Secret”. Avey joins Grouws for a southern fried bit of fun on the duet “Dig What You Do”. My favorite however has to be the swinging closer, “Two Days Off (And A Little Bit of Liquor)”, about letting your hair down on the weekend.
The Avey Grouws band combines songwriting, and musicianship to make their music fun. They will not be denied.