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Retro Deluxe "Watermelon Tea"

Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that their Debut Release, “Baby It’s Hot!”, was anything but a fluke, Retro Deluxe continues to blow us away with their not stop take on Rockabilly Blues via their exciting new Release, "Watermelon Tea".

Last year I gave their Debut Album, “Baby It’s Hot!”, not only a Honorable Mention, in my Year End Review, but I also picked it as the Best Live Blues Album (USA) for 2009 as well. Now with "Watermelon Tea", they not only equalled their last release, but I going to have to say that they far surpassed it.

"Watermelon Tea" consists of 16 Tracks and clocks in at a healthy just over 60 minutes. All the Tracks, as with the Debut Release, are Originals and were all written by Retro Deluxe's super powerful and dynamic singer, Bobby Joe Owens (Aka Robert J. Thompson), except for "Hoochie Coochie Back Door Man", for which he shares credit with Zachary B. Sweeney.

Due to a set of unforeseen circumstances, Retro Deluxe founder, Bobby Joe Owens set out and recruited Zach Sweeney as their hot new guitarist and headed down to the Delta Recording Service, in Mississippi to record "Watermelon Tea".  With the help of owner Jimbo Mathus, who not only produced "Watermelon Tea", but also played drums on it, they along with, Justin Showah (Standup and Electric Bass and Billy Earheart (Piano and Organ), proceeded to create the exact sound Bobby Joe Owens was looking for. This was achieved by, and I quote, "Aside from the keyboard and backup vocals, all of the songs were recorded live in the studio and five of the songs were recorded in one take. The recordings were done with an old school approach and two of the songs were recorded with only two vintage RCA ribbon microphones and standup bass pickup." Recording this Album the way they did really does give it a special live feel, that is somewhat lacking in many releases out there nowadays and certainly gives you a great representation of what this great band sounds like live.

"Watermelon Tea" starts out strong right from the gate and really doesn't slow down, mixing together a perfect blend of Rockabilly and Blues, and make no mistake that the Blues are firmly entrenched in not only the words but the essence of this little piece of magic, especially appearant in the Tracks, "Wine and Religion", "Clarksdale, Mississippi", "Hoochie Coochie Back Door Man", which reminds me of the style of George Thorogood, and the spellbinding last track, "Blues Infusion".

The songs used for "Watermelon Tea", were not only very well written, but extremely well sung, thanks to Bobby Joe Owens gifted prowess as a singer, which had the songs coming across, clear, concise, and to the point. I especially liked it when he used the older microphones which really gave those songs a unique almost slightly megaphone sound to them. Really well done. Combined with the great artists Bobby Joe Owens chose for this Album, "Watermelon Tea", really came across as a first class production.

Retro Deluxe is simply put, one of the best Rockabilly Blues Bands out there today, and their amazingly powerful new release, "Watermelon Tea", is all the evidence needed to prove that point.

Bobby Joe Owens and the new Retro Deluxe lineup consisting of Zach Sweeney aka Skinny Fats (Guitar), Bob Pierce (Standup/Electric Bass), Mike Mautino (Drums), and Carl Cimino (Keyboard) are now ready to take their Album to the big stages, where I am sure they will be more than very well received and remembered.

I Highly Recommend, "Watermelon Tea" for any lover of not only Rockabilly Style Blues, but also those that just love listening to great good times music. As with their previous release, I give "Watermelon Tea" my highest rating of 5*****. This one is a real winner...

Review By John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)

Other Info


1.Watermelon Tea [2:51]
2.A Woman Like That [4:23]
3.I've Got One Woman [5:21]
4.You're Lyin' [2:58]
5.The Mother Nature Song [5:17]
6.One Tooth Tessie [3:04]
7.Too Much Drama [3:10]
8.Clarksdale, Mississippi [6:56]
9.Hoochie Coochie Back Door Man [3:20]
10.Wine And Religion [4:38]
11.Rockin' The Blues Tonight [3:19]
12.What In The Devil Did I Do Last Night? [2:03]
13.Beer And Whiskey, Wine And Cigarettes [3:56]
14.Heavenly Band [2:58]
15.Rough, Tumble, Roll [3:03]
16.Blues Infusion [5:46]

Listen To Samples Here...

About Retro Deluxe

With a total of twenty-nine (29) all new original songs released over the past year, RETRO DELUXE has emerged as one of the finest new blues bands around. Their debut album entitled “Baby It’s Hot!” was released in August of 2009 and has been very well received. The Blues Underground Network named “Baby It’s Hot!” the Best Live Blues Album of 2009 and various tracks have received considerable play time on Smokestack Lightning, Blues Deluxe, and numerous national and international radio shows. In July 2010, Baby It's Hot! received an encouraging review in Blues Blast Magazine.


For their brand new CD, “Watermelon Tea,” founder/singer/songwriter Bobby Joe Owens decided to take a different approach when life’s challenges forced a change in the band’s lineup. Bobby Joe recruited hot young guitarist Zach Sweeney (Skinny Fats) and they both traveled to Mississippi in early August 2010 in search of a new, raw, high energy, down home sound. They arrived at Jimbo Mathus' (Squirrel Nut Zippers, Buddy Guy, Elvis Costello, Tri-State Coalition, South Memphis String Band, etc.) Delta Recording Service in Como, MS and immediately got to work. Jimbo produced and played drums, etc. and his partner Justin Showah (Afrissippi, Tri-State Coalition, etc.) engineered and played standup and electric bass. Jimbo was so impressed that he called on Grammy/Emmy Award Winner Billy Earheart (Amazing Rhythm Aces, Hank Williams, Jr.) to play piano and organ on eight of the songs.


The resulting sound was exactly what Bobby Joe Owens was looking for. Aside from the keyboard and backup vocals, all of the songs were recorded live in the studio and five of the songs were recorded in one take. The recordings were done with an old school approach and two of the songs were recorded with only two vintage RCA ribbon microphones and standup bass pickup. Everyone who participated in this special recording project is very proud of the outcome. “Watermelon Tea” was released on October 1, 2010 on Bobby Joe’s home grown Rinkled Rooster label.


A new RETRO DELUXE lineup including Bobby Joe Owens (Lead Vocals), Zach Sweeney aka Skinny Fats (Guitar), Bob Peirce (Standup/Electric Bass), Mike Mautino (Drums), and Carl Cimino (Keyboard) is now in place and big things are anticipated with the release of “Watermelon Tea.”

They’ve paid their dues, they’ve done the time, and now RETRO DELUXE is ready for their place on the big stage!