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Band Review

Kristine Jackson
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Band Review:

I saw Cleveland's best "Blues band" and best horn player (according to Everybody's News) last Saturday night at the Parkview. They struck me as more jazz than blues, but they crossed many musical genres that night. From Tom Waits "Temptation" to Neil Young's "Down by the River" to many jazz/blues standards, they defy conventional categorization. Country, blues, folk, rock, name it, they played it. They played, and the crowd listened. Intently. When they stopped playing, there was a short period of near silence, followed by enthusiastic clapping and cheering. Clearly, this middle-aged crowd had come to hear the band.

Kristine's voice is a true alto, and she can reach well into the tenor range. Her voice is both unique and beautiful, there's a crystal clear high harmonic that overlays the rich, dark, full tones of her natural range. She reminded me of Diana Krall when she covered "Temptation" (Diana also covered that song). She was dressed in a black Led Zeppelin T-shirt with baggy jeans, a twenty-something leading a band of very accomplished, older musicians. I believe someone asked if they knew any Zeppelin, to which she replied "I wish". She did respond to my request for a Bob Dylan song by playing "Like a Rolling Stone". It was a stripped down version, and she accompanied herself with her guitar and the bass player at the end of the second set. Very nicely done.

As for the band lineup, the bass player had an electric 4 stringer, an "Allembro" or something like that. He was fantastic, the jazz-like solos were melodic or frenetic, depending on the mood and feel, and he provided the glue that held the tempo together for the band. The lead guitarist alternated between a Fender and a Gibson hollow body, and played through a tiny Evans amp. He was understated and eloquent at the same time. Nice, tasteful nuance, and beautiful solos. Kristine's singing and playing were nothing short of awe-inspiring, and she led the band while doing all that. She picked up the trumpet only once, I got the impression that she normally played more but wasn't in the mood that night. The drummer played your basic 4 piece kit, the cymbals sounded like older, medium-thin Zildjian A's. Drums looked to be high-quality, more of a jazzy drum sound, though I couldn't hear the toms well enough to know if they were tuned tighter as a jazzer would normally do. The kick drum was inexplicably muffled with a pillow, and the drums were unmiked. Coupled with the fact that the drummer had a light touch, the drums were so far back in the mix as to be nearly inaudible except for the snare and cymbals. We moved up to a table directly in front of the band after the first set, and the mix improved somewhat.

However, the mix was a minor issue (even more so for the non-drummers), and the whole experience was entirely enjoyable. I would recommend you get yourself out to West 58th and see them on a Saturday night real soon. They have a regular Saturday gig at the Parkview through the next month or so. All this, and no cover! Of course, any self-respecting musician would feel obligated to donate to the cause, as it gives you an opportunity to visibly support the band. Kristine has a website, and I heard she's been to Europe and played with some talented musicians. So do yourself and the local music scene a favor, and get out and see them!