Rockwell Avenue Blues Band
Steve Freund/Tad Robinson/Ken Saydak/Harlan Terson/Marty Binder
Back To Chicago
The band members have previously played with one another. The concept of a reunion as The Rockwell Avenue Blues Band was the idea of Ken Saydak. Saydak is a keyboardist, writer, vocalist and producer and appears on over sixty recordings. He has recorded with Johnny Winter, Lonnie Brooks, Lurrie Bell, Dave Spector, and Tad Robinson. Saydak released his own solo debut “Foolish Man” on Delmark in 1999. He also hosts a two hour weekly blues radio program called Trinadaddio, on KCRT-FM, a Colorado radio station.
Robinson, harp and vocals, is a native New Yorker who moved to Chicago after attending Indiana University. He recorded two albums for Delmark before signing with Severn Records. His last album was 2015’s “Day Into Night”. Since joining Severn he has garnered nine Blues Music Award nominations including four as “Soul Blues Artist of The Year”. Robinson is one of the most expressive soul blues artists today.
Steve Freund, guitar and vocals, is from Brooklyn, New York but now lives in the San Francisco area. He too spent time in Chicago spending eighteen year’s playing with Sunnyland Slim. He has seven albums to his credit including 2004’s “Is What It Is” recorded with Dave Spector also on Delmark. His last album was 2013’s “Come On in This House”. He appears on over fifty additional albums as a sideman.
Bassist Harlan Terson has been playing the blues since the seventies. He has played with Lonnie Brooks, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers and others.
Drummer Marty Binder spent the 1980’s with Junior Wells and in 1990 joined Buddy Guy’s band. He also played with Albert Collins, Coco Montoya, Eric Clapton and others.
The lead vocals are divided equally among Robinson, Freund and Saydak. Each of them and Terson contribute to the songwriting.
The opener “Blues For Hard Times” written and beautifully sung by Robinson features Freund on guitar. Robinson also sings on his song “Rich Man”; on Saydak’s “Free To Love Again”; on a cover of “We Believe”; and on the title track co-written by him with Terson, and Saydak.
Freund sings lead on his songs. On “Boogie in The Rain” the band sounds like Canned Heat with Robinson on harp and Saydak on organ. Three more songs were written by Freund who also sings on a cover of Elmore James’ classic “Stranger Blues”.
On the Country styled “That Face” Saydak plays piano as he sings “I want that face to be the one I see just before I close my eyes”; while Robinson plays harp and harmonizes on the background vocal. Also written and sung by Saydak are “Chariot Gate”, the topical “For A Reason” and “Dream”. Saydak also sings lead on Terson’s “Love Police” which really screams for the addition of a horn section.
The rhythm section is solid throughout the recording. There is lots of great harp from Robinson and both guitarist Freund and keyboardist Saydak are equally fine. The Rockwell Avenue Blues Band is so good that I wish they would stay together for at least a year to further explore their collective creativity. This is highly recommended.
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