BlackBrew Debuts New Lineup & CD at The Whisky

Written by on August 5, 2010 in August 5, 2010, Live Reviews - Comments Off on BlackBrew Debuts New Lineup & CD at The Whisky

Saturday night’s quite alright for revised local band and fans

BlackBrewWhen an up-and-coming local band puts together a freshman CD, a most logical place to celebrate its release is Hollywood’s Whisky-a-Go-Go. Knowing this, the five hard-rocking members of the Southland outfit known as BlackBrew were gratified, on Saturday, July 31st, to play a hearty set of songs from their self-titled debut disk for a very receptive crowd at the legendary nightspot on the Sunset Strip. But while many supportive fans may have already seen some of those songs performed before, at locations such as Paladino’s and The Cat Club, this Whisky gig would mark the first time the public would see the reconfigured lineup of the band. It so happened that after participating in the recording of the band’s self-titled CD, former BlackBrew guitarist Bill Lima and bassist Matt Samadian amicably departed the group, leaving drummer Mike Ikona and singers Kurt Loun and Joanne Allen to carry on somehow without them. Happily, it didn’t take long to find replacement musicians, and Jimmy Ash and John Anthony Guy were soon able to step in and fill the vacant guitar and bass spots. And so it was that BlackBrew was able to proceed with a CD-release party and performance at the world-famous Whisky.

In good old rock-’n’-roll tradition, the band members all wore black t-shirts, with Kurt, Jimmy and Joanne clad in jeans, and John in shorts. BlackBrew blasted off with the first track from the new CD, “Morbid Rage,” and a good vocal blend was achieved by the two singers, as Kurt’s aggro projection was supported by Joanne’s strong, pure tones. From the outset, it was plain that both Jimmy and John are capable players – but wouldn’t you know it, somehow, during that very first song, a bass string broke on John’s axe! Kurt promptly asked for help, maybe from another band, hoping someone could possibly lend a bass, but for the moment no aid was forthcoming, as BlackBrew prepared to plunge into the next song, appropriately entitled “Why Me.” John managed to forge through like a true trouper, while Jimmy showed his own mettle with some high-end shreds. Next, Jimmy picked up an acoustic guitar to demonstrate his picking and slide capabilities in a piece that Kurt referred to as “Reflections, Part 2,” which some listeners said was somewhat Zeppelinesque, and during that time, somebody generously came through with a replacement string for John, and he was back in business. “In Loving Memory” then started out with a funky, fuzzy intro, as Jimmy thumb-slapped his Fender’s revitalized strings and Kurt got hoppy and happy at center-stage. Joanne’s voice swooped from low to soaring throughout the song, which featured tight breaks and a strong, solid finish from all hands.

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Next, as Kurt addressed the subject of change and new directions, the band broke out a surprise for everyone, with an entirely new song called “Eye to Eye,” which proved to be a strong rocker, highlighted by the expert use of a guitar talk-box by Jimmy. The guitarist creatively employed the effect for an intriguing lead, and the crowd’s response showed that the band has another winning song, good to go for the next CD. “I Am the One” was then belted out, featuring another masterful lead by Jimmy, this time enhanced by his wah-wah pedal, in keeping with BlackBrew’s established sound. Jimmy changed pace again as he plucked the minor-key opening to “Breath,” leading into crunchy, choppy chords that were accented by precise, restrained drumwork from Mike at the outset. But Mike’s percussion became more vigorous and propulsive as the song progressed, showing his range as a hard-rock drummer. Then, finally, Kurt stated that BlackBrew was ready to try a song that hadn’t yet been played live by this new lineup, and many in the audience guessed that the piece would be “Black and White,” and they were right. Overall, the song sounded great, with maybe just a hiccup or two as it unfolded from melodic to crunchy – and the culmination was a very well-executed slowdown and taut ending, and the crowd hollered, clapped and howled in approval, making plain that BlackBrew’s CD-release performance at the Whisky was a rousing success.

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