For the past few years Diane Blue has taken center stage as the powerhouse vocalist and harp player for Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters. No easy feat for the young singer standing along side one of the true living monuments to blues guitar. Make it known that Diane Blue is there because she deserves to be there. Her voice is primly suited for Earl's music and her harp playing adds dimension and texture to his classic sound. She added a profound accent to his latest recording 'Maxwell St.'
We had seen Diane Blue on the Fallout Shelter stage before as part of Women of Soul and Blues and she was terrific with that sextet of some of Boston's most notable female performers including Myanna, Alizon Lissance, Lisa Mann, Wendy Sobel and Diane Gately. She wasn't the front woman there...they all were. When we had a chance to get her back with her own band it was an easy choice. Armed with a collection of new songs and a band that featured long time Broadcaster Dave Limina on Hammond organ and piano, Chris Vitarello on guitar and stalwart session ace Chris Anzalone on drums she took over on a cold night in early January and literally raised the temperature in the room. Vitarello is an absolute beast of a lead player, able to cut loose at the right time but staying in the pocket of these songs allowing them to breathe. Limina is a masterful keyboard player who can also tear up a solo when the song calls for it but provides perfect smokey undertones. She's just gone into the studio with these cats to record her third studio album and if the 75 minutes she shared with the audience here is any indication, this is going to be a strong record with a well crafted diversity of style...these guys know how to play and they know how to make a great record.
Diane Blue's voice is classic blues in the vein of say an Irma Thomas or the late Sharon Jones. It's deeper, throatier than many of her contemporaries in the young female blues singers world like Cassie Taylor, Samantha Fish or Danielle Shnebelen. She's closer to the part of the room where Ruthie Foster or Shemekia Copeland sit and it works for this 'Chicago Deep Dish' style of blues. Diane is one of those singers that could sing the menu at the Golden Dragon and you'd love it. The addition of a considerable skill as a harp player adds a real smokey, greasy dimension to her music. Playing along side a legend like Ronnie Earl is a great place to be and it can open a lot of doors...you just have to be willing to go through them when they open. Navigating the music business man-cave is hard work and can be a skin-thickening slog especially for women who not only have to manage the business of being a band leader, they have to do it against a head-wind of "mans-world" bullshit. This is a good, tight, well seasoned band led by a powerful woman with a booming voice and a lot to say. Be forewarned!
THE DIANE BLUE BAND
Diane Blue - vocals, harmonica, guitar
Chris Vitarello - guitar, vocals
Dave Limina - piano, Hammond organ
Chris Anzalone - drums
The Session Crew
Produced and edited by:
H. Nat Stevens