The '90s popularity of blues has brought with it the rise of the local favorite blues band in towns both big and small. While many of these combos are serviceable enough, the majority are sadly little more than aging '70s rockers cloning licks off old Stevie Ray Vaughan records. Local Lansing, Michigan band Root Doctor is one that was doing it before it was fashionable and have a tight, cohesive sound to show for it that works blues and soul magic off this live recording. Former '60s soul singer Freddie Cunningham (the Root Doctor in question) sings with a beautiful abandon that places far more emphasis on true feeling than hitting every note right on and the soloing from guitarist/founding member Scott Allman echoes this slick leather with nasty little imperfections in its approach, making the music alternately real and slick, but not too slick. There's a wide range of material performed here (Tony Joe White's "Rainy Night In Georgia," and Wilson Pickett's "Don't Fight It," the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and "I Can't Get Next To You," Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out," and Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child") not usually found in the set lists of local weekend blues bands. But this board tape flows with a 'this is the set' kind of ambience (including shameless plugs for themselves in the true 'we'll be back next Tuesday' bar band tradition), another point in its favor in the not-that-slick category. It's a real treat to hear a band play with this much verve and flair while realizing that they could be living right around the corner from you in Anytown, U.S.A.; true folk music, indeed.
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