Shane Dwight expands beyond the blues with his new release, and lets the band cut looser live.
Thursday, December 8, 2005
Before his latest CD, Done With You, came out this past November, Morgan Hill-based guitarist Shane Dwight was headed down a respectable one-way road towards a career as an impressive contemporary blues player. With the release of Done With You, Dwight is heading in all sorts of different directions: blues, contemporary country, jam rock and alternative rock.
What is most impressive about the release isn’t that Dwight moves into so many new territories, but that he makes each genre seem like such a natural fit.
While Done With You expands his sound, it will likely please Dwight’s base of blues fans. The first four songs are originals that find the artist branching out, while most of the latter half of the CD finds Dwight tearing into blues numbers like Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” and Robert Johnson’s “Possession Over Judgment Day” during a live performance in Northern California.
The title track and opener finds Dwight melding blues rock with a modern alternative rock sound beneath echoing vocals. The next track, “Good Life,” begins with the striking lyric: “My favorite uncle died/ he was doing blow/ he used to get me high/ ‘til he overdosed.” It’s definitely a pop rock number, but it stands out because of its depth and Dwight’s deft delivery.
Of all his new originals, “Don’t Forget My Name When U Pray” is the song most drawing on the blues for inspiration. The tune features a muscular blues-rock riff with bluesy slide guitar licks flickering around the chorus.
The last new original, “Have a Good Time,” is also perhaps the most surprising. Basically it’s a mix of blues and contemporary country in which Dwight delivers lyrics like “holler” with a country twang. It’s a song that would sound right at home on local contemporary country radio station KTOM.
After the originals, Dwight lays into a slew of blues classics by Albert King and Muddy Waters before revisiting one of his originals, “Come See Me,” at the end of the CD. On the “Come See Me (Jam),” Dwight starts off with a blazing guitar solo that would make both heavy metal fans and jam band fanatics proud. During the all-instrumental update of the title track from his 2003 CD, Dwight also lays into some searing licks from Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.”
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Dwight says that the version of “Come See Me” that closes the CD is an example of the band’s new philosophy when playing live.
“You just have to follow your muse,” he says. “We are almost a jam band in that sense.”
He also sees it as an evolution from the band’s first gigs.
“The early years were more straight-ahead blues,” Dwight says. “Now, we have developed our sound and are more experimental.”
Part of the band’s confidence onstage probably stems from successful live shows this summer at a multitude of blues festivals, including the Monterey Bay Blues Festival and the Oklahoma Blues Festival.
Dwight says a particularly memorable show was when the group played Jacksonville, Florida’s Springing the Blues Festival this past April. When one of the headlining bands got stuck in traffic, Dwight and his band stretched their set an hour and a half longer to placate the crowd.
The vocalist and guitarist says that in addition to a new philosophy regarding live performances, he also has a new way of looking at the band’s original numbers. In the past, Dwight thought that only bluesy-sounding originals would work for his group, but now he has decided that all sorts of music might fit in with his band’s expanded sound.
“We are just trying to play music that we want to play,” he says. “No matter what style it is. I’m trying to just write things that come from the heart.”
Dwight believes that his latest recorded work can easily hold its own when compared to his regionally popular past releases: 2001’s Boogie King and 2003’s Come See Me. “To me, it’s my favorite CD so far,” he says. “It has a little more originality to it.”
The musician is hoping that the band’s upcoming CD—which it is going to start recording in the near future—will be able to reflect both the group’s present blues-infused contemporary sound with their interest in the past, namely covers of blues classics like Albert King’s “Blues Power” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Shake for Me.”
“Whatever sounds good is what we’re gonna put out,” Dwight says of the as-of-yet-untitled release.
SHANE DWIGHT PLAYS SLY MCFLY’S, 700 CANNERY ROW, MONTEREY, FRIDAY AT 9PM. 649-8050.