I’d love to write about every group we saw on the Blues Cruise, and hopefully I will. I think the order that I’m presenting these blog entries is based on the excitement I felt starting from the highest surprise excitement to the not-quite-as-high excitement, and then on down the list. Not that some of those groups that end up lower on the list were worse. Not at all. It’s just that I more or less know what to expect from Tommy Castro, Marcia Ball and Theresa James. But these are the surprise discoveries and I can’t wait for you to discover them too.
While all of the groups were great, the next group was a high-surprise discovery.
18 South was said to be a country band, but boy was that wrong. I first heard one of the band members, Jessi Alexander, sing a solo in a singer/songwriter concert one night on the ship. Even with that, it took several days before I made time to see the whole group, and finally caught them in more of an acoustic lounge setting. I didn’t see their big stage show…but perhaps, it’s the same as the lounge show. At any rate, they ‘wow-ed’ me with everything they did. When I got home, I downloaded their EP which contains 6 songs, and found every song to be a winner.
Jessi Alexander is the female lead vocalist, and she’s a wonderful songwriter too. She won the 2009 ASCAP Pop Music Award, Teen Choice Award and MTV’s Best Song from a Movie Award for “The Climb” which was recorded by Miley Cyrus. What a voice she has!
The other members of the band may not have big name recognition with all of us regular folks, but they’ve toured or played with the best in the recording business – from Allison Kraus to Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Jon Randall is the male vocalist and plays guitar for the group. This is truly a supergroup of musicians.
They sing what is called ‘Americana’, which is a nice mix of blues, gospel, bluegrass and jazz. I’d say it was like Lyle Lovett mixed with Vince Gill mixed with K.D. (Katie) Lang. But you might miss the freshness of their music if I tried to put them in a category. It’s the kind of music you’d love someone to play for you on the front porch of a country ranch house, looking out over the horses and mountains. Just pickin’ and harmonizin’.
I’m going to post a YouTube link, even though the video quality isn’t so good. Try to look away and just listen to the music. Its catchy.
This second song was the one that Jessi sang at the songwriter concert. This is the one that made the world stop and my head snap to attention as she poured out the ache in her heart. This venue allowed the artists to talk a bit about each song, and what they were thinking about as they wrote the song. In this case, Jessi explained that there are times when you just don’t want to go bury your heartache or sadness with a trip to a party or to a bar. You just want to go ahead and feel the heaviness of being blue. She nails it with this song. Take a listen:
Right now, the band is playing mostly around Tennessee and Kentucky. I sure hope they make it down to Texas soon!