By Rhetta Akamatsu
Photos courtesy of Takesi Akamatsu
Eliza Neals looked every inch the star on Darwin’s stage Saturday night. She is still her same sweet self though, and before the show, we hugged and had a few minutes to catch up. The band recently got back from the UK, which she tells me was great. People loved the music, she says. Of course they did. There is absolutely nothing not to love about Eliza Neals and The Narcotics.
On one side of Eliza was Howard Glazer, master guitar player and often Eliza’s writing partner. Like Eliza, he is and always has been from Detroit. Bassist Darryl Lee is also from Detroit, but he has made his home in Atlanta for some years now and is a respected part o our blues scene. He had a health care not too long ago, so we were so happy to see him in fine form and sounding great with Eliza. The other “Narcotic” onstage was DeMarcus Edward Sumter and together they made a perfect blues lineup and a glorious sound!
Eliza Neals has a marvelously expressive voice and the personality to sell a ripping blues song like Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” or her own “You Ain’t My Dog No More” or a blues heart-render like “Ball and Chain.”. She can get every ounce of emotion out of “Can’t Find My Way Home.” Whether she is doing her own songs or someone else’s, she puts her whole heart into it. I would easily put her in on the same level as Koko Taylor, Janis Joplin or Bonnie Raitt as a vocalist and as a performer, with her own special Detroit sass.
Many of the songs let Howard show off his amazing guitar chops, including “Call Me Sunshine,” and the truly incendiary “Burn the Tent Down.” In fact, he and Eliza complement each other perfectly and that is the core of this band’s greatness. Eliza also plays keyboard on some of these songs with great proficiency. Darryl and DeMarcus keep the rhythm steady and the audience eats it all up.
We were all privileged to be a part of this evening. I can’t wait until the next time they come around!