The Bottoms Up Blues Gang: South Broadway Blues

The Bottoms Up Blues Gang is not yet a polished product, but the CD is worth picking up, if only to hear the youth of the St. Louis blues.

The first time I listened to South Broadway Blues, the debut CD from local trio the Bottoms Up Blues Gang, I was unimpressed. It took two or three more playings for it to grow on me, but when it did, I found myself pleasantly hooked. The songs—three-fourths blues covers, one-fourth original music—are simple, as you would expect from a band that consists of only a vocalist (Kari Liston), a guitarist (Jeremy Segel-Moss), and a harmonica player (Adam Andrews), but they are generally well-executed. Liston has a smoky, sultry voice, one that makes you believe she really does have the blues, while Segel-Moss plays solid rhythm guitar. Andrews’ harmonica is expected to carry the band instrumentally, and it works, although on the tracks when the band is joined by special guests, the music gets much more interesting and Andrews’ solos benefit.

It is on these tracks that the CD really shines. Pianist Matt Murdick (a member of the Rich McDonough Band and the St. Louis Social Club) adds a New Orleans feel to the second song, “Meet Me Out Back.” He also contributes to my favorite track, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.” After Liston sings, “If I dislike my lover/and leave him for another/ain’t nobody’s business/if I do,” Murdick’s piano takes over, and the result is wonderful. I played the song several times in a row and felt transported to a smoky little bar on Beale Street every time. This track also features some of Segel-Moss’s best guitar playing, and the interplay between the piano, the guitar, and the harmonica is worth a second or third listen.

The other guest musicians on the CD are some of the local blues scene’s finest. Brian Curran (guitar) makes an appearance, as do Irene Allen (vocals), Sharon Foehner (bass), and Eric McSpadden (harmonica). I was looking forward to the final track, “Who Do You Love,” which featured all of the guests, and although the result wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for (Allen’s voice was slightly overwhelmed by Liston’s, and the sound levels seemed a little off), it didn’t entirely disappoint. The track’s sound was rich, full, and almost jubilant. There was a final unlabeled track after the song, which was simply Andrews on harmonica. His talent was showcased nicely on this track, and it made for a fitting ending to the CD.

The Bottoms Up Blues Gang is not yet a polished product, but the CD is worth picking up, if only to hear the youth of the St. Louis blues. The genre is definitely alive and well, and if the musicians continue to collaborate on albums such as South Broadway Blues, there is much to look forward to.

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