Roomful of Blues

Standing Room Only

Since its inception over 30 years ago, the Rhode Island-based Roomful of Blues has celebrated the 12-bar musical form that is part of its name. However, based on the evidence of its latest CDs, such as this one—where only five of the 14 numbers are blues veterans—it has slowly transformed itself from primarily a blues band (with the accent on “jump”) into a band that dabbles in the blues. As a fan of this nine-(now eight-) piece band since the early days, when guitarist (and co-founder) Duke Robillard was on board, I find this depressing. For many years and through many personnel changes—only saxophonist Rich Lataille is an original member—they managed to keep the blues flame alive, especially when backing up men like Big Joe Turner and Cleanhead Vinson! Now, with guitarist Chris Vachon at the helm and Mark DuFresne singing, they’ve obviously chosen another direction. However, when they get down on the blues they can cook, as they easily demonstrate on Lowell Fulson’s rhythmic “Love Grown Cold.”