Keyboardist/vocalist Cheryl Renee’s live shows are high-energy evenings of bawdy, brassy Blues, and she's teamed up with Cincinnati mainstays Them Bones to offer a taste of her performing prowess on a recently released live CD of classic Blues covers.
Renee’s musical travels over the decades have taken her from Cincinnati to a world tour with the U.S.O., Boston, Knoxville and finally back home again. She is a seasoned performer known as much for her manic stage antics and humorously raunchy lyrics as she is for her rollicking piano chops. And there isn’t a more cool and professional backing trio in town than Them Bones (“Lightning” Tim Jacoby on guitar, Roger Bates on drums, Larry Malott on bass).
The CD has a number of standout tracks, most notably a big, dark, striking medley of Muddy Waters’ “The Same Thing” and Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” that both swings and threatens. Jacoby takes over with his smoky, soulful vocals and tasty Telecaster The Features for a seductive version of Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You.”
But it wouldn’t be a Cheryl Renee live show without her trademark not-safe-for-kids playfulness, which is fully on display in her arrangement of Albert King’s “I Get Evil,” and in Jimmy Witherspoon’s “Drinking Beer.”
Part of the purpose of a live recording is to capture the energy of the crowd as well as the band. Recorded earlier this year at “Pickle’s Blues Extravaganza,” in Lima, Ohio, the CD appears to unfortunately be strictly a soundboard recording. The band comes through loud and clear, but you get almost no crowd noise at all. If you strain your ears at the end of a song, you can faintly hear a bunch of people having a very good time.
But it’s the music that counts, and this CD clearly reinforces why Cheryl Renee and Them Bones are one of the most consistently entertaining Blues acts the region has to offer. Cheryl’s full schedule with Them Bones can be found at cherylrenee.com.
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