By John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
Beyond All Expectations, is the best way I can describe
Blackdog Blue's newest CD
"Staring At The Sun".
Having been super impressed with their debut release
"Slide", I was really looking
forward to listening to
"Staring At The Sun". The first time I played it, I had full
intention of just listening to a few tracks and then turning out the
lights for the night, as it was late and I was tired. Guess What!!! After
the first Track I was wide awake and eagerly awaiting each subsequent
track. It became a later night then I expected.
"Staring At The Sun" grabs a hold of you right from the start,
with the opening track, "Big Black Cloud" and it's hypnotic Bass
Back Beat. This is the kind of song you like to listen to when your out on
the open road and the gas pedal just needs that extra nudge.
The second track "Follow Me" is a inspirational
tune, which starts bringing more elements into the mix with Uli Scheck
lending his magic fingers to the Keyboards.
Uli's Magic on the Keyboard continues in the next track
"Hedge Your Bet". This is also where Renea Denis, starts to
really take over and starts belting it out with her amazing voice. I
particularly liked the finish on that track. No Kiddin Around.
Track 4, "I'm Gone" is were all the harmonical
expertise of Blackdog Blue starts to shine. Everything is now in full
force and all the stops have been pulled. There is no turning back and if
you are not hooked by Blackdog Blue by now, you certainly will be with
Track 5, "Let Freedom Reign".
"Let Freedom Reign", is an anthem of peace and
hope amidst the desperation and despair of today's world. Set in a
beautiful acoustic motif, this song is one of those rare recordings that
will lift your spirits a little higher then they were before you started listening
to it, and yes their is a good chance that you will feel the chills run up
your spine as I did, especially at the end when the Kamloops Children's
Choir finishes out the Track. A brilliant and magical song.
The next 4 tracks, once again turn up the heat under your dancin' shoes,
with the hypnotic back beat courtesy of Darrell Hanna on Drums, not to
mention the superb job of Corey Yamaoka on Bass.
Tracks 10 and 11, "Going Crazy" and "My Friend Floyd
(Staring At The Sun)" are a refreshing marathon, not readily
available on most cd's out there in today's marketplace. Reminiscent of,
you guessed it, Pink Floyd, you are tricked momentarily with the track
change, but as brilliant as it is, the 2 tracks are one song with a little
Track 12, TRU Boogie, is listed as a Bonus
Track and is a captivating Boogie Style Instrumental. This tune was a
wonderful way to finish off a wonderful CD, with Uli "Magic
Fingers" Scheck layin' a beatin' to his keyboard.
Blue has stayed true to their style, being a mixture of Rock,
Country/Rock, Country, and yes a little Blues, and have since honed their
craft to an exciting new level.
"Staring At The Sun", is guaranteed to please all whom are
fortunate enough to listen to it. A superb finely polished CD that will
leave you only wanting more.
If I could give a
higher rating then 5***** out of 5***** I would
sidenote one must not fail to mention that this CD was recorded in
Kamloops by the truly amazing Doug Perry at Doug Perry's Recording Studio.
Nice Work Doug.... Very Nice Work.
About Blackdog Blue
Dennis Hayes - Guitars, Vocals
Dennis began his musical career as a boy, being forced by his mother and her visiting friends to play such classics as Delta Dawn and House of the Rising Sun. He played a bit in his teen years before retiring his guitar for more domestic pursuits (marriage, university, family). It wasn't until his oldest son started playing guitar in grade 8 that Dennis decided it was time to revisit his childhood passion. He bought a new guitar and amp, relearned some of the songs of his youth, and set out to form one of the hottest bands in region. He believes that he has achieved his goal with Blackdog Blue. “I am fortunate to be playing great covers and fantastic originals with people who are not only great musicians, but also great people.” He approaches every song and every gig with an enthusiasm rooted in a love of both music and people.
Darrell Hanna - Drums/Percussion
Darrell, the drummer, was born at a very early age. The nurses at the hospital must have been psychic. Apparently they nick –named him Bongo. He started playing drums in grade eight and, twenty – nine years later, he's still making noise. He played in several bands throughout the eighties (what a great decade) and nineties and took a hiatus from drumming for about six years. Some friends started a fun band and asked him to join. A few years later he joined Blackdog Blue. “Here I am today playing some good tunes and having a good time.” Says Darrell.
Renea Denis - Vocals
Renea started singing at a very young age with her dad. Her first band, at age sixteen, gave her experience with a microphone and a group situation. Since then she has sung with numerous bands. She has had the opportunity to sing in many distinct venues including bars, night clubs, and on a cruise ship. Singing has always been a very pleasurable experience for Renea. Her song styles ranges from blues to classic rock to country. “Of all the bands I have sung with, nothing gives me more enjoyment as to have the opportunity to sing with the four gentlemen I sing with now in Blackdog Blue. This band is a great group of exceptional musicians with talent unbounding.
Corey Yamaoka - Bass
What happens when someone comes to the door asking whether you want to take lessons on guitar or accordion???? Well, after long contemplation, you choose the accordion. This could have been start of a very short musical career.
Corey started playing guitar at age 10. He was quickly recruited at age 12 to play bass in the band at the music conservatory he took lessons from. During his high school years he played in many Heavy Metal bands covering Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Europe, and many more. He played in band with the talented and accomplished keyboard player Dale Wallace (Emerson Drive) while in high school.
After graduation, a slight bump in the rode derailed his playing for a few years until his last year in Victoria where he played in band at the peak of the grunge era. Playing the typical grunge songs. This lasted for only a year. Corey then got into the teaching profession and it was not until 6 years later that he started playing again. Corey then met Denis and has been playing in various incarnations of Blackdog Blue for the past three years. The line-up has been set-up and the future
Uli Scheck - Keyboards/Flute
Uli grew up in Southern Germany where he started playing in bands when John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers dominated the "white man's blues" in Europe and the Rolling Stones still couldn't get any satisfaction. In his late twenties he took a plane to Toronto and for almost two decades toured all the hot clubs in Ontario from Napanee to Gananoque. Last year he decided to relocate to Kamloops, the
rock' n roll hotbed of the BC interior. While he enjoys his daytime job at TRU, hitting the keys with Blackdog Blue and sipping a fine scotch really keep him going.
Favorite colors: black and blue
Favorite scotch: Scappa
Favorite keyboarder: Keith Emerson