Having the blues turned out to be a very pleasant experience in Port Jefferson on Sunday during the American Music Festival when the Red White and Blues Band, a Long Island Blues/Southern rock band rode into town on their Harley's with their mojo's working.
When it comes to Delta Blues, this band is polished and tight from start to finish, demonstrating an intuitive feel for the genre of music they play.
The influences of blues masters like Freddie King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Stevie Ray Vaughn are woven into the gritty vocals by Lennie Campanelli and Steven Greenbaum's rapturous blues harp.
The "heartbeat" of the band is Eddie Wenzel, laying down a solid bass line, while brothers Greg and Frank Delape round out the hard life blues sound, playing a smoking guitar and drums respectively. The instruments these musicians have selected, speak to the respect and regard they have for their music playing Fender Strats, reissued Gibson Les Pauls as well as a vintage set of Gretch Drums played by drummer Frank Delape "when he was a kid."
These instruments played through vintage style Fender amps recreate some of the best blues sounds I heard short of the seeing the acts in person. Moreover, these fellows were having fun playing together, which carries over to the audience.
After the warm-up number, Hide Away, you knew the band was getting ready to get down and dirty, and that they did with blazing solos by Frank Delape on rhythm and lead guitar and Lennie Campanelli playing lead and belting out the lyrics. The blues were creeping in after this number only to be followed up by classics like Tore Down and Hoochie Coochie Man, a standard blues classic also covered by greats like Eric Clapton and B.B.King.
Each of the musicians showed that they have been around this music for a long time generating a rocking blues beat with steely guitar riffs and solos, leaving room for Steve Greenbaum's weeping blues harp to jump out at you and pull at your heart "feeling like this when your baby can't be found.”
To hear this group play off each other, you would think that they have played together for years. Surprisingly, that is not the case. Red White and Blues Band
"first got together in 2005," however they “have known each other since they were kids."
Eddie Wenzel, a gentle giant, and the Delape brothers were members of Doc West, a band featuring Cyndi Lauper as a vocalist in the mid seventies. Eddie explains that they are still in touch with her and she still has an influence on some of their vocal arrangements.
Needless to say, I was quite impressed with the style, attitude, and craftsmanship, the Red, White and Blues Band displayed on Sunday afternoon under the tent.
Even after doing a gig the night before and" still feeling it" while standing out in the heat of the day, the band was extremely polished and poised. They ended the set with Stevie Ray's Vaugh's rendition of Pride and Joy followed by Cross Cut Saw both of which were played with the heart and spirit of the Delta Blues masters.
We could have stayed until there was Blues at Sunrise and some of the band may well have.