"Soup Never Tasted So Good"
In February, I attended the annual BluesFirst Convention and Expo in Memphis, Tennessee. While at an afternoon seminar, I met a very nice woman from one of the blues societies. We chatted for a few minutes about the usual things, what do you do, what brought you here... stuff like that. Her name was Doreen Robideaux, from the Monroe, Michigan area. She handed me her CD, It's In The Can, explaining that she's the lead vocalist of the group Soul Kitchen. Never hearing a single note, I fell in love with the CD just from checking out the jacket design. It depicts a can of soup with the caption underneath the bowl that reads, "Cream of the Blues", in smaller letters just below it says, "Pour it on-Stir it up." Doreen and her band are quite creative, having a great sense of humor. The best part is found on the back, showing a bigger bowl of soup with the band members heads(including Doreen's) floating on top like oyster crackers. I bust out laughing, what a riot, I couldn't wait to get home and give it a listen. In the meantime, Doreen and I agreed to keep in touch.
Once home, I popped in the CD, and I've been playing it ever since. From the very first number, right through to the 9th and final track, It's In The Can, by Soul Kitchen, is jam packed with some of the most soulful blues and R&B numbers I've heard in a very long time. If the major labels haven't been knocking the door down yet, don't worry, it won't be long. Each track compliments the next, highlighting each band members individual talent. This recording has the kind of studio sound that's usually found on major label releases, kudos go out to Tom Barber at Rednail Recording. The Soul Kitchen members are, Denny Harrigan on lead guitar and harmonica, Jeff Kopmanis on tenor and baritone sax, Tim Merman on bass and keyboards, Al Michaud on drums, and Doreen Robideaux as songwriter and lead vocals. The genuine strength throughout this recording comes from Soul Kitchen's master chef, Doreen Robideaux. She's both a gifted vocalist and talented songwriter, all nine tracks on, It's In The Can were penned by Ms. Robideaux.
Soul Kitchen really knows how to cook up some delicious blues and R&B. When describing their style of music, the band sums it up best, "Like your music with a little hot sauce and a whole lotta attitude?" "Honey, you've come to the right place!" There's a level of energy felt from start to finish, like an electrical current humming through a power line. The electricity begins right from the first track, "Testify To The Blues", an upbeat sassy number, with excellent solo work on tenor sax by Jeff Kopmanis, a perfect opening number. The next track is one of my favorites, "Salvation In The Blues", a real tribute to the genre... "lose yourself in rock n' roll or find salvation in the blues." This slow, soulful ballad, really showcases the incredible vocal talent of Ms. Robideaux. Doreen has exceptional range and depth vocally with an instinctive ability to interpret the true meaning of the blues. Her soulful, gritty, throaty vibrato, can be compared to such blues artists as, Irma Thomas and Ruth Brown. "I Want The Boogie Man", is a hip, funky number that tells of the kind of man Doreen would prefer, again some excellent sax solos can be heard.
"Come The Night Owl" is a soulful song that slowly builds crescendo and moves right into a hard-driving tune with some great lead guitar solos by Denny Harrigan. On, "Why Did You Go", Doreen sings about breaking up, with reference to some famous couples, a real sassy number. "I Just Want To Be With You", is another track that really highlights Doreen's incredible vocals. A song about a one night stand that's pure emotion, intensified by some blistering axe work. The CD concludes with, "Movin' On", a powerful, toe-tappin' number about starting over.
This is certainly one band you need to pay close attention to. Presently performing to sold out clubs in Michigan and Ohio, it's only a matter of time when Soul Kitchen receives national attention. Their brand of soul, r&b and blues is infectious, and much too strong to stay focused in one area of the country. I encourage everyone to go out and see this group while you can. This talented bunch are bound for glory, soon they'll be signing a record deal, then out on tour with those higher ticket prices. You can get your copy of It's In The Can at their web site, firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a great CD worth adding to your collection.
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