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September 2016

Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat
Live at the Kessler
Underwood Records

Jim Suhler

Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat (Chris Alexander – bass/vocals, Shawn Phares – keyboards, Beau Chadwell – drums/percussion)have been playing around the Texas area for over 20 years and have built a worldwide following with their relentless blues-based rock n’ roll and roots music. For their seventh release, the band has issued Live at the Kessler (Underworld Records), which was recorded at the historic Dallas theatre in November of 2015.

The 15-song set includes two brand new songs, plus favorites from three of the band’s studio albums and one from Suhler’s 2002 solo album, Dirt Road (the lovely instrumental, “My Morning Prayer”). There are four songs each from their previous three albums, 2014’s Panther Burn (the hard rocking kickoff track, “I Declare,” the Tex-Mex-flavored “Across The Brazos,” the great country blues “Texasippi,” and the swampy atmospheric title track), 2009’s Tijuana Bible (the spirited title track and “Devil In Me,” the rock n’ roller “Sunday Drunk,” and “Po’ Lightnin’,” a funky tribute to Lightnin’ Hopkins), and a rocking set from 2001’s Bad Juju (“Deja Blue,” “Restless Soul,” “Scattergun,” and “Prayin’ for Rain”).

The band sounds fantastic working through these songs, really feeding off the intimate atmosphere of the theatre and the enthusiastic audience. Though they rock hard on these tracks, their songs are highly original and creative. Suhler, who doubles as lead guitarist for George Thorogood since 1999, is just amazing and the band provides superlative backing (including guest musicians Tim Alexander on keyboards and Tex Lovera on cigar box guitar). The two new songs are keepers, too. “Doin’ The Best I Can” is a fun driving rocker with some masterful slide guitar from Suhler and “Reverie” is a soulful Southern rock instrumental.

Live at the Kessler serves as a marvelous sampler of Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat’s catalog for the uninitiated and will also be a must-have for longtime fans who have never had the opportunity to see this outstanding band live. This is a set that either group of fans will be returning to again and again.

--- Graham Clarke
Read Graham's blog




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