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Hot Blues with Dressed To Kill & Cool art by Bill Walters on Aug. First Friday

Posted in: Concerts & Events, First Friday, Local Talent, News | No Comments | Posted on by Mary Anne

August First Friday At The Cheeky Monkey: Dressed To Kill Brings Hot Blues To Sarnia’s Ace Record Store
by Brian Hay

The blues band Dressed To Kill has mostly worked as a four-piece group. To be able to perform the cuts on their album ’This Ol’Train’ the way they wanted to however, they added several musicians. That ensemble gave their first performance in March. Their second one was hosted by the Cheeky Monkey and it provided an evening to remember.

The core of the band is still the same. Bassist Bruce Sleeuwenhoek and drummer Dallas Labarre form what can only be described as a silk pocket for the rest of the group to work from. Their contribution literally epitomizes front man Keil Simmons catch-phrase “stay classy folks”. Up front Keil and lead guitarist Jeff Turnbull play off of each other intuitively. Both deliver solo and lead passages that provide treats for the ear and they conclude them while listeners still want more. As a singer Keil has roar that carries power and sensitivity in the same breath.

Behind them Meghan Blythe, Colleen Beauregard and Allison Blunt sang the harmony parts from the record. As a group their voices meshed well. When any of the three stepped up to sing the lead fireworks exploded in the air. Colleen’s timbre is perfectly suited to blues and she displayed an enormous amount of personal charisma. Meghan’s voice was an excellent fit for songs that demand higher ranges. Allison is an incredibly warm performer who draws affection in from everyone on both sides of the stage.

The horns needed for the songs from ‘This Ol’ Train’ were provided by trumpet player Christine Knowles, trombonist Cole Blais and sax man Al Weiss. The confidence and individuality in the playing Blais delivered has grown immensely since he performed with the group back in March. Christine Knowles did a good job on the solo parts for her instrument and played a huge role in the tone colouring provided when that section played as a whole. The man of the hour though (and also the guy on the spot), was Al Weiss. Working on very short notice he delivered a yeoman’s job on parts for both the sax and the flute and also, filled many of the spaces created by the absence of the keyboard. His solos were vibrant and he delivered them with panache. That he worked from charts was only obvious when watching him. The spontaneity in his playing made it seem as if the passages were being created right there.

It was a good night for the band, the store and the audience that was there. The crowd inside was never small and many stayed for the entire performance. Some danced in the aisles. The event was just that much fun. The sound was generally good. It overpowered the venue occasionally but never for long. One has to hope that more things like this can be staged at different venues within the Sarnia/Lambton area. The economics involved make it difficult, no doubt. With compromises from both sides however, along with an acceptance from audiences of the need to pay a cover charge it could be done.

That’s something that’s up to all of us.



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