The first thing you notice before you listen to the music is the CD cover and artwork. The Deacons get on the good foot by having a lovely woman(maiden) posing in front of the Lincoln Monument. Hence the play on words of the title, Maiden in America.
The Deacons don't fancy themselves to be a strictly blues band. They think of themselves as a "modern American music band". This means blends of rock, jump, swing, New Orleans groove, Memphis and Texas blues.
The Deacons have a hold on all these styles as demonstrated on this CD. The band even changes musical genres during the course of a song. For instance on "I Beat Mike Tyson", the song starts with a nice, loping blues groove than immediately starts into a rockin' bluesabilly beat. They do this on a few tunes and while it shows their versatility you wish they would stay with one tempo throughout the entire song.
The vocals, shared by the entire band, is not their strong suit. There is no distinctive or powerful voice in the band. Their songwriting
abilities overshadows this inadequacy. Original songs like the aforementioned "Tyson", "What Did I Do to Deserve This?", "Everybody's Somebody's Baby", "Ain't What It Seems" are excellent songs. They are humorous and witty. For some reason their sarcasm and vocal quality remind me of Frank Zappa. The "Telephone Song" plays as a lowdown blues but the last refrain catches you off guard.
The Deacons are Charles Mitchell on drums, Bruce Middle on guitar, John 'O Connor on bass, and Geoff Holdridge on violin/viola. They all contribute vocals. The Deacons have impeccable credentials, having played with or opened for Bruce Springsteen, Taj Mahal, Widespread Panic, Larry Coryell, Delbert McClinton, and Johnny Winter to name a few. One cannot argue the quality of the Deacons musicianship. A particular aspect of their instrumentation that sets them apart is the violin. Holdridge plays some gritty, blues passages on his instrument. While he is classically trained, what you hear on this CD is more towards the Americana genre than classical music.
If you can open yourself up to bluesy music with the violin heating up the mix, you'll enjoy the Deacons.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.