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Pete Dressman and the Soul Unified Nation bring on 'The Current'

Once. Black. Jeremy. Why Go. Mention those words and I'm thrown back into the pits of the '90s, when Grunge devoured the music world. A true Alternative hurricane. Although I followed Pearl Jam cross-country, the closest I came to meeting the band was this scene: landing flat on my back on top of Vedder's boot. Ouch.

Singer/songwriter Pete Dressman has better Vedder stories than I do. Never thought I'd meet a PJ fan as bad as me, but I've met my match.

He met Vedder at a Cubs/Reds game and he talked to him on the phone once. I surrender.

I've never been to Mac's Pizza, even though they stole part of my last name. Meeting Dressman is my first adventure there. Mac's is shadowy and spooky, with dark wood chairs and low lighting, but I can still see that Dressman is tired. Wearing a red bandanna to hold down his wild, curlyhair, he wears a tan corduroy jacket. Grinning, he describes the gig the night before as "something outta Wayne's World." Although he's visibly hurting from a hard night, Dressman's deep brown eyes hold a mischievous light, a spark that lurks beneath his dark looks.

Dressman says, "We were growing up during the whole Grunge explosion."

He studied Singles, Ten and Nevermind religiously, and his study of Grunge shows in the classic Alternative feel of his music, but not without his individuality bursting through.

"I dropped outta college (in 2005) and said, 'Let's do music,' " he says. "That's the only thing I think I understand — songs — structures of songs. For the most part, I can just feel where the song's gonna go. It's always been like that."

Soon Dressman added Daryl Demoss (drums) and Marc Brodie (bass). The idea for the band name, the Soul Unified Nation, came to him in a dream.

Dressman was voted the favorite solo artist in a national competition by a Fox Network-owned TV station, and he has opened for Taylor Hicks, G. Love & the Special Sauce, Tyrone Wells and more. Of his new CD, The Current, Dressman says it has an "Alternative Blues feel to it. It's got its Rock. It's got its slow songs. It has its political songs, and it has its upbeat love and dirty Blues. It kinda sucks everybody in together."

Dressman's star-quality voice shines on the title track, which begins with lone vocals, rolling into an open ocean sound. His voice holds deep drawls, an echo and a depth, combined with integrity, soul and a natural, catchy feel. Harder songs burn with guitars and drums and the vocals are tempting and rocking. Let me be blunt: This thing's begging to be on the radio. Smart and hard, soft and hearty, it's full of water and fire.

Then, over pizza, we start in on more old Pearl Jam war stories, as if we're chillin' on Stone Gossard's front porch or diggin' up Mike McCready's garden.

Pete Dressman and the SOUL UNIFIED NATION (myspace.com/petedmusic) perform at Latitudes in Milford Thursday,.

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