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Band Review

Colin Desault’s Blues Project
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Band Review

I saw Colin Desault’s Blues Project at the Savannah in Westlake Saturday night.

The band was capable of demonstrating flashes of musical virtuosity but that was not what they were about. They are entertainers and very good ones. Looking at their schedule, they are already booked something like 28 out of thirty days every month for the rest of the year, my expectations were high. Colon started the evening walking around the room. He was shaking hands and talking to people and asking them what songs they would like to hear. I was there with my parents (first table front and center) and my Dad thought he was being a wise guy asking for Jimmy Reed. They opened with a Jimmy Reed song. My Dad was sold! Colon had a music stand and a book (he was the only one) that was at least 3 inches thick but he never used it. The dance floor was packed almost all night. Colon is the out front personality of the band. He used a technique that BB King uses. It was the thing I like most about seeing BB King. He would tell a story. They would then break into music that continued the story. When the song would stop the story would continue until they broke into the next song which fit in perfectly with what he was saying. There is no doubt all that all this stuff was scripted but it came off very natural. They did have a ringer in the audience. They had a guy that was going around pulling ladies on to the dance floor. They had a running joke going about it. “He’s danced with five ladies already. He’s going home with somebody tonight!” The trick worked very well and audience participation couldn’t have been better. They are billed as a blues band but they only played a handful of blues songs all night. They covered a lot of territory. They played pop songs and Irish songs and Jazz songs and country songs. They played something from just about any genre of music you can possibly think of.

Colon was a masterful harmonica player. He was also a great singer. He had a PA head that was sitting right next to him where he would occasionally reach over and adjust the levels. There was another PA head that was driving the speaker mains. I couldn’t tell the brands but they looked like one was a Yamaha and the other was a Mackie. The mains where massive. I believe they were Behringers. Each cabinet had two 15”’s and a horn. They sounded really good. They got the job done with zero clipping. There was only one floor monitor, a really big one.

The keyboard player used a Nord Electro 2. He was a very dynamic player and carried many of the solos. I couldn’t see any amp so he may have been going direct into the PA although it sounded like he had something onstage.

The drummer played a blue fortune drum kit. He wasn’t an especially flashy player but he was solidly in the pocket. I’m not implying he didn’t play any fills. His fills just seemed to be so well integrated with the song they didn’t stand out as “solos”. The band would switch timings and feels frequently. Faster, slower, quarter note feel, triplet feel, and style. They were so tight they could turn on a dime.

The Bassist used what appeared to be a Schecter Stilletto-5 five string bass. This was going through what appeared to be a Galleon Kruger head and an SWR 4x10 cabinet. The bass sound was tremendous. He was a great player and was crucial to the over all vibe of the band. He also sang harmony vocals. That’s a difficult trick as anybody who has tried it can tell you. The coordination with bass playing and singing is especially tricky.

The guitar player had an unusual instrument. It looked like a Telecaster body with a Stratocaster neck. The body had the large Fender pick guard found on some of the Thinline models. He had a homemade box to hold his effects. He said that’s because the other guys kept stepping on his stomp boxes. My Dad, being a woodworking hobbiest, has decided he must make one for me. He used a Fender Deville amp. His tone was awesome. He didn’t stand out much as you couldn’t really hear him most the time but when he did stand out for a solo he played in a great sophisticated style with lots of double stops and a great sense of phrasing.