Doc Wadkins and the Hard Pack are self-described heavy metal Rock-N-Roll veterans. But when that genre went the way of an empty can of AquaNet, they turned to their roots and that meant the blues.
Unable to fully shake their years of hard rock experience, the band plays the blues with a harder edge, complete with screaming Fender guitars, prominent bass, heavy drums and 3-4 part vocal harmonies. Influences range from B.B. King and The Allman Brothers to Jimi Hendrix, Gin Blossoms and Lynyrd Skynyrd, all coming together to create a unique musical blend that is friendly to both blues and non-blues fans.
The first thing that stuck out to me while listening to Down That Road, their first CD, is the top-notch musicianship. The rhythm section is tighter than pre-shrunk spandex, Docs vocals are smooth and professional, and the guitar tones are absolutely killer. Its obvious from the first listen that these old friends have a good time playing together and such infectious merry-making makes the 10 tracks all that much more fun.
The album opens with the dirty Texas-blues Dead Mans Drive with natty, gritty, guitar and piano by Larry De Vincent and Doc on harp. One Good Woman is a more straight-forward blues song with classic lyrics and chord progression. There is a driving rock feel that propels the song forward through some stunning guitar solos, all rounded out by Hammond organ. Going further toward the Delta is Love Doctor, which is Mississippi blues at its most basic. Laid back with plenty of slide guitar solos, this song will transport you to the deep South with no return ticket. A personal favorite is the rocking Rock My World with heavily distorted guitars and an early ZZ Top feel absolutely scorching!
A number of ballads pepper the album, proof that this band knows how to work an audience. Theres the title track which features rock organs, the mid-tempo power ballad Going Crazy and the driving Open Up Its Cold Out Here with some nice vocal harmonies and a pace just right for a slow, close dance with that special someone. Rounding out the album is Why Baby with skillfully played honky-tonk piano and the soaring, lonely Pale Moonlight with ringing guitars, more great guitar solos and an unexpected, upbeat instrumental outro.
The CD packaging is as professional as the music with a pressed CD and tasteful eight-page insert. You can get Down That Road by attending the CD release party 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Elks Lodge in Warsaw, at CDs Plus in Warsaw, the Warsaw Deli Mart, or by contacting Doc Wadkins himself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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