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At 45, Roomful of Blues Is Going Strong

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In a business that often lacks longevity, Roomful of Blues has kept on keeping on for a full 45 years. They’ve recorded a new live album to celebrate.

Roomful of Blues - the Rhode Island based Blues, Swing, Rock and Roll, Jump, Soul, and Boogie-woogie band - has been through many personnel changes over the years. Throughout though, they’ve been quite consistent in delivering a really good time. Playing with verve, virtuosity and genuine joy.

The current eight-piece lineup is led by guitarist Chris Vachon and includes singer Phil Pemberton, bassist John Turner, trumpeter Doug Woolverton, drummer Chris Rivelli, and keyboardist Rusty Scott. They’re joined by longtime members baritone and tenor saxophonist Mark Earley and tenor and alto saxophonist Rich Lataille.

Notable past members include Al Copley, Duke Robillard, Lou Ann Barton, Ron Levy, Ronnie Earl Sugar, Ray Norcia and the trombonist Porky Cohen, who I’ve written about here before.

Credit Alligator Records

Billboard has said the band is "a tour de force of horn-fried blues…Roomful is so tight and so right." Roomful of Blues has won five Grammy Award nominations and many other accolades, including seven Blues Music Awards (winning as Blues Band of the Year in 2005). They’ve twice been selected the Down Beat International Critics Poll’s Best Blues Band.

Guitarist Duke Robillard and pianist Al Copley started the band in Westerly, Rhode Island, in 1967 as a straight up Chicago Blues band. They soon began mixing in 1940s and 1950s Jazz and Jump music and soon enought added the horn section in 1970. They performed with Count Basie in 1974 and the great song writer Doc Pomus helped them land a recording contract that resulted in their 1977 Island Records debut, Roomful of Blues.

That first album brought them national fame and a truly successful and very long career.

Now entering their 45th year, Roomful of Blues celebrated their anniversary with the recording and release of 45 Live, an album I can recommend as a joyous and uplifting example of what the band is all about mid-way through their fifth decade.

Tune in this week for a sample set from 45 Live by Roomful of Blues on The Nine O’clock Blues.

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