The blues is one of the most emulated and admired genres of music among musicians today, acting as a backbone of musical theory and style. Although many bands integrate blues styles into their sound, there are very few groups in mainstream music that work to continue the actual blues tradition.
The Kelly Bell Band comes as a refreshing contrast, offering inventive music which, although riddled with other types of music, largely stays true to traditional blues. In its new album, titled .ain’t like it used to be (ThrottleBox), the band brings together an amazing mix of jazz, funk, rock and especially blues.
The CD, released Feb. 14, could be called a masterpiece, as it features numerous former and current great blues musicians. Bobby Parker, Ron Holloway and Victor Williams are among the many guests present on this album.
The Kelly Bell Band is relatively local, doing most of its work out of Baltimore. It was voted Best Blues Band by Music Monthly the past six years and Best Band in Baltimore by the City Paper the past two years. It is easy to see why the Kelly Bell Band has earned such a great following and respect.
Frontman Kelly Bell brings his strong vocal ability to a band that is already boiling over with talent. Bell’s powerful voice brings depth to his already meaningful lyrics in songs such as “Good Night for the Blues” and “Mama’s Chasing the Dragon.” The band as a whole is incredibly flexible. Individual talent allows the band to produce soulful blues melodies that melt the heart, and then take it up to fast and energetic funk.
The Kelly Bell Band is one of the few groups today that is actually able to capture a truly creative spirit in its music. There is something infectious about “Early in the Morning” that grabs you by the heart and plays with you like a rag doll.
The CD has a slightly nostalgic feel, hailing back to the days of small city neighborhoods and celebrating the blues and jazz of mid-20th century America. Old blues and jazz styles are beautifully woven into songs like “Talkin’ in Your Sleep.” These songs do not just copy old riffs – they put a new twist on old classics. The Kelly Bell Band is exceptional at using something classic and adding a new twist or element to it, updating while preserving the original flavor.
Perhaps the best parts of the album are the samples of beat poetry used as an introduction and featured throughout the record. This is one more great example of how this band in able to give a great classic style a touch of its own.
The Kelly Bell Band’s .ain’t like it used to be has a great deal to contribute to contemporary music. This album shows off the entire range of talents that the band possesses, making for some great entertainment.
.ain’t like it used to be is in stores now.