Material: The Royal Blackbirds are a trio well versed in vintage rock and blues. They fuse that with a modern alternative punk and soul energy for a sound that is refined yet edgy and raw. Everything from the canon of R.L. Burnside to I-IV-V jazz grooves and New Orleans style romps figure into the mix. Most of their up-tempo set features highly danceable and toe-tapping appeal, with tunes like the title track from their latest album It Ain’t Right and the ‘60s-flavored kitsch rocker “Detroit Zombie.”
Musicianship: From the first downbeat it’s a no holds barred assault on the senses. This band seriously comes to play, with nary a special effect to be found. Saad has a mighty voice and can modulate it to serve a variety of material and moods. Her guitar playing is equally adept. She’s able to bend the softest note or twist it into next week. Her rhythm work is rock solid, with ringing chords that dovetail nicely into Burck’s muscular and sinewy bass lines. Gadette plays flashy when the music dictates, but is, above all, a seamless pocket player.
Performance: The near capacity crowd was primed to party and The Royal Blackbirds delivered on all fronts. From the very first tune Saad began a hand clapping chorus and got the audience involved. From there the band had the patrons in the palm of their hand and brought them along for a spirited 10-song ride. Burck and Gadette laid down a nice blend of dirty funk and a strong backbeat, that gave ample room for Saad to step out on leads and moderate space where needed. Their collective balance of chaos and control was most impressive. This band knew how to work an audience. And the room soaked up every minute of it.
Summary: A great live act, The Royal Blackbirds don’t rely on gimmicks or gadgets to get their message across. It is Motown soul mixed with gritty rock and downhome blues that will knock it out of the park every time. This is a band with a unique way of meshing rare covers and classic rockers with original tunes for a blend that plays organic and real. They are a ton of fun!
The Players: Rebecca Saad, guitar, vocals; Dennis Burck, bass, backup vocals; Jeanette “Nettie” Gadette, drums.
Photo By Eric A. Harabadian
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