When Ali McGuirk hit the boards at The Fallout Shelter her reputation had preceded her somewhat as the winner of the Boston Music Award's Blues Artist of the Year. Awards are kind of skewed these days and although Ali McGuirk can definitely hit a "blues" groove her voice is classic rock and roll female vocals...more in the vein of an Ann Wilson, Grace Slick or Grace Potter than say, a Shemekia Copeland. When she lets loose she's got stadium level pipes. Perhaps it also has something to do with her band and the performance at The Fallout Shelter. Led by the brilliant guitarist Jeffrey Lockhart and the stellar rhythm section of Brandon Mayes on drums and Cilla Bonnie on bass there were times when the music was pure Hendrix and at times settling in to the more harmonic side of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was "bluesy" but when the band rocked, it rocked...hard. Observations on trivial things like "genre" aside, Ali McGuirk floored the house with a great collection of songs and a truly gifted cast of players to set the songs loose.
When the songs called for a more subtle approach, like the beautiful 'Empty Vase' or 'Leave Me', where she shifts into a Roberta Flack-like mode, you could start to realize the range in Ali McGuirk's voice and the softer side and diversity of her songwriting as well. Influences from Etta James to Aretha Franklin to Whitney Houston begin to surface. She's been polishing this craft for a while and is beginning to garner the attention of critics and journalists in high places. This is an artist on the rise with a solid dedication and love for the craft and a tremendous skill set to build on.
Jeffrey Lockhart is a force of nature. A soulful, technically brilliant player with mesmerizing tone. He easily shifts from heavy blues and rock to jazz tones with effortless skill, never changing his understated, almost 'hidden' stage demeanor. There's no flash, little expression and scant movement, That's Ali's role and the band gives way to it, letting her run the show. Any of the other three players on the stage could play in a spotlight but their job is to make her shine and they did their job.
THE ALI McGUIRK BAND
Ali McGuirk - guitar, vocals
Cilla Bonnie - bass, vocals
Brandon Mayes - drums, backing vocals
Jeffrey Lockhart - guitar
The Session Crew
Produced and edited by:
H. Nat Stevens