Step III is raising the temperature in Duluth, Minnesota with their ingenious style. However, the chill remains in your soul after listening to this original blues band, which isn't a bad thing, to say the least. Originally, I was a bit disappointed when I attempted to
listen to this CD on my stereo system, because it refused to play. This discouraged me for many weeks, and I didn't attempt to play it anywhere else. It's unfortunate, because when I finally got it to play on my computer's "Music Match," program, and took the time to listen, I really enjoyed the unique rawness of this band's recording.
Step III is a Duluth based blues band. This three piece band has divided their talent between Minnesota's Northern shore and the nearby Wisconsin region for the past two years. They write and perform all of their own original material, and want to be known as more than middle-aged men who know how to play "Pretty Woman." I admire that.
Step III's unrefined; rockabilly blues style reminded me a lot of the early, Straycats. I pretended to be playing an upright bass with a Cheshire grin when I heard their first cut, "Best Dress." I thought the songs they chose for this CD are brilliant, bluesy, smooth and sweet. Tom O' Hara's voice and distinct bass playing has a way of embedding its
richness deep into your soul. I loved the metaphors in, "Black Cloud." The traditional blues riffs in this sad melody dripped with bittersweet pain. Each track completely mesmerized me with its creative story-line. Almost immediately I fell in love with "Lightnin' John." That is until he got caught messing with a jealous man's wife. The
wicked blues melody, "Evil-Eye Dan," crept slowly into my soul, instilling a spine tingling sensation. In this song Tom Hillman's raw Dylan-type voice hypnotizes as he tells the story of the Gypsy Angelina by the fire, as well as Evil-Eyed Dan's Daddy, whom his Momma never talks about. I thought this song was truly amazing and the guitar
playing absolutely haunting.
This CD wasn't intended to be commercially sold. This recording was done live with a two track stereo system. There were no over-dubs. Each track was laid down straight, one right after the other. The Step III band consists of three live performers, and that's the feeling they wanted to give with this CD. Tom Hillmans a huge fan of the early Stax
recordings. This CD is simple, yet, profound.
I've never heard of this band until now. I'm glad I had this opportunity. The uniqueness of this CD will not be forgotten! Someday I'll have to see Step III perform live. If you want to personally get in touch with this band contact Step III at HillmanTPJ@aol.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mia Jennings, 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.