So when an artist I'm writing about has shared the stage with so many greats of the blues genre, rather than mention those greats individually, I usually just say something to the effect of them collectively adding up to one hell of a two to three day blues festival. That said, if I were to refer to the artists that Leroy Ellington has shared the stage with I'd have to say they'd have the liking of an oldies revival; an R&B revue; a country jamboree; a rock fest; and last but not least, a blues festival.
Like that skillful kid in school who lettered in football, baseball, wrestling, track, and band, Leroy is about as diverse as one can musically be. However, it is the blues community's gain that back in 2010 Leroy realized how much he missed playing the blues. So, for now, he's ours.
His new band is called Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts and "Sanctified" is their debut release. The Sacred Hearts consists of: Leroy Ellington on lead vocals and saxophone; Max Gise on guitar; Marcos Sastre on guitar and background vocals; Charlie Fletcher on keyboards, Hammond B3, accordion and background vocals; Mike Grosser on bass; and Rick "Bam" Powell on drums and background vocals; Additional special guests include: Chuck Brisbin on harmonica and vocals; Dwayne Irvin on saxophone; Matthew Anklan on trumpet; and Chris Arduser and Teddy Wilburn on drums. "Sanctified" features eleven, all original tracks.
With the opening line of the opening track being "Well I don't know what you came here to do tonight, but we came here to party", it's a strong bet that the Sacred Hearts use this one to open their live shows as well. Then once the band kicks in: the rhythm gets rockin'; the guitars and the sax start wailin'; and Leroy starts testifyin' about some "Good Time Blues"; the shuffle goes into full smokin' mode and the party has indeed started.
So, does calling a new song that's released in 2019 a sixties protest song sound weird? Well, from my interpretation, "Let's Make Love" is just that. It's a song written about the riots that Leroy remembers witnessing back when he was a six year old child. As it turns out, although he doesn't remember anyone being of any color, he was reminded that those were the race riots of 1968. Frustrated that some fifty years later it still needs to be addressed, this is Leroy doing just that. With a powerful rhythm being driven by some killer organ work going on behind them, the lead and background vocals - and the message they're delivering - shine on this one.
By now, all of my readers know that I get a bit excited when the most traditional, low down and dirty, slow blues song is the longest song on the disc, and this is one of those times.....seven glorious minutes of it. On it, Leroy asks "What Would You Do" if you knew today was your last day? Would you ask for forgiveness and get down and pray or would you spend all your money on a final getaway? Further into the song he gives his answer but I'll let him tell you that when you listen. Musically, this one features Max and Marcos sandwiching Charlies's monster organ leads with some unbelievable blistering blues guitar solos; Leroy, making me think he should be wearing gloves 'cause he's blowin' nothing but blazing hot blues out of that sax of his; and Mike and Rick backing it all up the rhythm it takes to make tracks like this work as they do. Right about now my regular readers are also thinking I've I've spent at least twenty-eight to thirty-five minutes listening to this one......and they're right. WOW!
"Until We Meet Again" is a song on which Leroy pays homage to his dearly departed parents. The heartfelt and emotional message it sends is to never have to think of the things you "should have said". If you're lucky enough to be someone who's parents are still alive - say it to them now. Amen, Leroy!
Charlie's opening vibraphone sounding keyboard work on this one reminded me of song that always made me feel good and put a smile on my face - Michael Franks' "Popsicle Toes". This one's called "Two Tons Of Fun" and it's a similarly good time, feel good song. It's a story about two large frame singers from the same town - with Leroy being one of them - who sing.....what else? Big Sexy Blues, of course. Now I don't know if Chuck is that other man of size but I do know he's the other vocalist on this duet and the guy who is adding those lazy and jazzy harmonica leads to Leroy's lazy and jazzy sax leads. Real smooth stuff!
Other tracks on this very impressive album are: "Gotta Keep Movin' On," "Doghouse," "Family Thing," "Something Funky Going On," "Looking In The Mirror" and "Stone Cold Bad."
If you haven't yet received your copy of "Sanctified" for airplay, please contact Gina Hughes at The Galaxie Agency either by email - Gina@thegalaxieagency.com - or by phone - 615-351-0485. Also, to find out more about Leroy Ellington's Sacred Hearts just go their website -www.leroysacredhearts.com. Remember, whomever you contact, please make sure you tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.