Material: It is notable that this group is a family affair, with Troy Michael Aleman joined by his twin sons on guitar and drums. The entire two sets of their show emphasize good ol' fashioned rock & roll with a country spin. Troy and Blake trade off on vocals throughout the performance that includes both modern and classic country covers. Almost all of their second set consists of the group’s original songs, which have an atmospheric vibe at times, recalling some Bryan Adams rock numbers (largely as a result of using three guitarists). There are also some surprises, like when Stevie Ray Vaughan is given the Troy Michael Band treatment, all the while retaining a signature style influenced by Troy’s previous work in blues band Woodward Avenue.
Musicianship: Troy is a great lead instrumentalist supported by classic backbeats and walking bass lines from Justin and Arnold. Together the group powers out consistently tight finales. When they do switch to the rare ballad, the acoustic guitar comes through nicely. Josh provides subtle amped-up treble accents that add a deeper dimension to the music, using his whammy bar for a lap steel tone.
Performance: Troy was warm and personable with the crowd. He mixed things up by having the band transition straight through between songs. He also took the time to encourage specific line dances, which got the crowd moving. The group’s energy never waned. They performed with as much gusto for their big finish as when they started, ending on a powerful note by making a James Brown cover of “I Feel Good” their own. Blake quipped, “I don’t know how a cowboy got so much soul!”
Summary: On a few songs, Troy’s vocal is low in the mix during the verses, a crucial aspect to country music. If the group could come down on their individual volume levels and maybe even refrain from rhythm accents during the verse, Troy’s vocals would come through better. Usually the largest concern for a vocalist is eating the mic, but Blake seems to have the opposite issue of frequently moving from the focal point, another aspect that could be easily addressed. Overall the group is building a solid repertoire in the hopes of garnering future residencies and, with their unique sound and spirit, should easily achieve that.
The Players: Troy Michael Aleman, lead guitar, vocalist; Michael Arnold, bass; Josh Aleman, rhythm guitar; Justin Aleman, drums; James Blake, acoustic guitar, vocalist.