Live at Electric Andyland
Dennis Brennan has been a fixture of the Boston Blues scene for the better part of three decades now. His reputation precedes him. Many of us have long expected a blues album that’s finally here. Oh, let’s be a bit more accurate. Brennan is primarily a singer-songwriter who plays roots music, some bluesy and some more in the realm of Americana. This set is a live studio recording where Brennan and band are clearly focused on the blues.
First, let’s give some background. Brennan became a lead singer in high school with a band that evolved into The Paranoids. They opened shows for both The Remains and The Barbarians, garage band legends. Following high school, Brennan’s continued fronting such well-regarded outfits as “The Dirty Rye Band”, The West Side Band”, “The Martells”, and “Push Push”. These bands performed in every bar and dive on the east coast. For a few years now, he continues to hold down a weekly dive-bar residency with his band, dubbed ‘Dennis Brennan and the White Owls.”
Secondly, let’s shed some light on Electric Andyland, the studio owned by drummer/vocalist Andrew Plaisted. Electric Andyland started as a small home studio for adding drum tracks to records made elsewhere but quickly outgrew the basement and turned into a full-fledged boutique operation where singer/songwriters – and anyone else – can get professional quality sounds without having to mount a kickstarter campaign. As you’d expect then, Plaisted produced, recorded, engineered and mixed the album with some help from organist David Westner.
The other band members are Stephen Sadler (lap steel/vocals), Tim Gearan (guitar/vocals), Jim Haggerty (upright bass/vocals) and Brennan who sings and plays blues harp. Their sound is raw, edgy and vibrant. It’s a mix of covers from the classic to the relatively obscure (in order) penned by Johnny Guitar Watson, Bobbo Jenkins, Big Al Downing, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Mose Allison, Lead Belly, and Jagger/Richards. In between, the band sprinkles in a few originals. The disc gets better as it unfolds as it deftly balances the electric with the acoustic. These are the notable tracks: the band’s throbbing original “Tangle,” the slow blues of “Three Kind of Blues,” Lead Belly’s “I’m On My Last Go Round” and the faithful, respectful smoldering cover of the Stones’ “No Expectations.”
As you listen, you can tell that Brennan is a musicologist of sorts, deeply influenced by blues and soul music that he’s finally brought to a solid recording.
- Jim Hynes