CD review by Roger-Z (01/16/06)
Appeared in More Sugar, March 2006, P. 16B
The crossroads just moved uptown. Connecticut is "Turning Blue" thanks to
the six piece HooDoo Band featuring Debra Ciligin on vocals,
J.J. Clarke on drums, Dave Anastasia on bass, Pat Gregor on keyboards, Paul Gabriel on guitar, and Greg McCullough on
guitar. Winners of the 2004 Connecticut Blues Challenge, the group's music takes a surprising turn on this CD.
After witnessing Dave Anastasia and Greg McCullough wail on bass, lead and slide guitar at numerous
Southbound BBQ jams, I looked forward to ferocious,
Allman Brothers style, dueling guitar tracks. Instead, the band eschews uptempo fireworks for mostly mid to
slow tempo blues, ballads, and torch songs. The spotlight shines strongly on sultry vocalist Debra Cilingin.
Miss Cilingin's throaty, velvet alto purrs on such weepers as the Tin Pan Alley style "Hole Full of Blues,"
the jazzy "Black Cat," the r&b of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad," and the minor blues of "Say Goodbye."
She manages to wring every last drop of unhappiness out of each syllable. Frankly, it's hard to believe someone
this sexy could lose all those men!
Although the band provides a beautiful launching pad for the vocalist, they manage to snag a little room for themselves.
Drummer J.J. Clarke and bassist Dave Anastasia provide an effortless and thoroughly transparent groove throughout the CD.
Pat Gregor's tender piano gently tugs at the heart strings on "Hole Full of Blues" and playfully perks up "Black Cat."
Both guitarists take star turns on "Need Your Love So Bad" and "Let The Blues Do The Crying For You."
These old school players feature vintage tones and emaculately sculpted solos. Greg McCullough favors a thick,
Les Paul style tone while Paul Grabiel leans towards a thinner, Strat-like sound. But McCullough's slide guitar
delivers the coup de grace. On the tunes "Turning Blue," "Baby Loves Beale," and "Let The Blues Do
The Crying For You," he approaches each blue note as if trying to capture a venemous rattlesnake. He approaches
from below and creates enormous tension by resolving the note only at the very last possible instant.
Mr. McCullough also wrote or co-wrote some of the albums best tunes -- "Hole Full of Blues,"
"Black Cat," "Let The Blues Do The Crying For You," and "Say Goodbye."
Despite all the tears, the future looks very bright for The Hoodoo Band.