Doug Deming and The Jewel Tones

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Doug Deming - Guitar and Vocals Dale Jennings - Upright Bass Don Gruendler Jr. - Drums Brian Miller -Harmonica and Greg 'Fingers' Taylor - Harmonica (3,6) Denny Freeman - Piano (1,3,5,6,10) Chris Codish - Organ (4,8,11) Rick Holmstrom - Guitar (12) Steve Mugalian - Percussion (2) Recorded in Culver City, California, 2002. Produced by Rick Holmstrom and Steve Mugalian © 2002 Chase Music-DemBlues Productions

Doug Deming and The Jewel Tones is one of the shining lights of the Detroit blues scene. In spite of years on stages throughout the Midwest with his own band (formerly the Blue Suit Band) and roadwork with the likes of Alberta Adams and Lazy Lester, Double Down (Mighty Tiger) marks the guitarist’s breakthrough release. With cohorts Brian Miller (harp), Dale Jennings (bass) Don Greundler, Jr. (drums), and a handful of special guests, Deming breezes through a dozen superbly crafted originals like a man prepared to make his mark on a bigger map. Indeed, this stands its ground against anything released this year. The Rick Holmstrom and Steve Mugalian-produced effort was recorded in Culver City, California rather than on the home turf. While there is certainly more than a taste of left coast swing in Deming’s tone and execution, as Fred Reif points out in his concise liner notes,Doug Deming and The Jewel Tones

 Deming is perhaps more influenced by Texan T-Bone Walker. From the opening lines of “Goodbye Baby,” Deming and company make it glaringly apparent that they are first-class players. Everyone shines here, and Deming and Miller interact particularly well on this uptempo number. They bring it back home for the following “Blackjack.” This is slightly more upbeat than Kenny Martin’s version on the Motor City Rhythm & Blues Pioneers set from earlier this year. Here the shades are more brilliant, if less warm. Guest Greg 'Fingers' Taylor (ex of Jimmy Buffet’s Coral Reefers) proves himself a stellar blues man, as his harp lines inject “Bad For You” with a cross between Butterfield and Little Walter attitude. He returns for “Let Me Be,” on which in combination with Deming’s guitar and Denny Freeman’s piano he helps evince the classic Muddy Waters-Little Walter-Otis Spann lineup of nearly half a century ago without sounding intentional. The hipster grooves of “Make It Last,” co-written with Jennings, and the scorching “You Don’t Even Care,” a tune on which Deming sounds like he’s chasing Little Charlie Baty, again point to both the quality of the writing and playing captured here. If Greundler doesn’t call to mind Gene Krupa on the rollicking “HDF” (credited to the band) you need to get yourself back to classics school. The “Sing, Sing, Sing”-style intro is a feature for Brian Miller, who plays Benny Goodman to Greundler’s Krupa. Deming may not be the Charlie Christian in the stew, but that’s only because he laid low for the rest of the band. On “On the Midnight Shift,” courtesy of Chris Codish’s organ, the band revisits the groove of Super Sessions, while “Mr. Blues” lets Deming cut loose on the backside of Miller’s stellar harp work. “It’s A Crime” has a decidedly Elmore James groove to it, and “It’s All About the Digits” has a jazzy feel out of the Ronnie Earl book. By the closing instrumental title track, with its almost rockabilly feel, this listener was exhausted. Mark E. Gallo, Blues Bytes

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