The Kilborn Alley Blues Band – Tear Chicago Down (2007)

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by Mark Saleski

It’s safe to say that when I was a kid, the idea of sitting down and listening to a blues record never entered my mind. Not very often anyway. Looking back on it now, this seems crazy. I mean, all of that blues-based classic rock I bathed in. Zeppelin. Cream. Bad Company. The Stones. I even went to a Clapton concert that featured Muddy Waters as the warmup act!

Well, sooner or later, the male teen hormone level subsides just enough to allow for a little rational thought. Partially-engaged brain at the ready, the “blues light” began to go on for me after one event: I borrowed a David Bromberg record from my psychology teacher.

Out Of The Blues was a best-of collection that had some interesting angles on the blues. Some tunes were serious (“Suffer To Sing The Blues,” “Kansas City”), some a little jokey (“Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair,” “Sharon,” the latter about a stripper) — all of them made me wonder “How did I not know about this stuff?”

I have the same feeling about the popularity of the genre every time I listen to a great blues record. How can it be that the blues is not more popular? Why doesn’t everybody know about this album? What is wrong with you people?!!


The Kilborn Alley Blues Band plays the blues like they mean it. No… like they have no choice in the matter. They make me remember why I became attached to this music in the first place. Based out of Chicago, these guys won’t deal you any fake, too-many-notes-to-the-bar blues. No, instead you’ll get the soulful vocals of Andrew Duncanson lifted up high by the solid and loose rhythm duo of Chris Breen (bass) and Ed O’Hara (drums), and the inspired harp/guitar pair of Joe Asselin and Josh Stimmel.

This is blues plugged right into the amp: there’s no studio trickery, no electronic distractions, no pretense. These guys mean business. From the snakey shuffle of “Lay It Down” to the gutbucket stomp of “Fire With Fire” to slinky “Crazier Things,” this is a rootsy blues band that plays with their heart on their sleeve. When they switch gears to visit their more soul-oriented side (“Come Home Soon,” “Redneck In A Soul Band,” and the title track) you can just soak in the love.

Tear Chicago Down just might be your Out Of The Blues. It has the power to push you over the edge. I can feel it. Ten minutes in and you’ll have the urge to buy a pile of Howlin’ Wolf, Son Seals, and J.B. Hutto records. That’s what happened to me.

You’ve been warned.

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