DOUG DEMING & THE JEWEL TONES Groovin’ At Groove Now! – CD Review

Aug 22, 2023 | CD Review, Suncoast Blues Society


Groovin’ At Groove Now!

Endless Blues Records

On so many levels, this live recording was a long time in the making. First of all, Doug Deming and his Jewel Tones is perhaps the genre’s hardest working band. For more than a decade, he and the band have regular Thursday through Sunday gigs at a variety of venues in his Florida stomping grounds. So one would think that a live recording could have been released years ago.

Enter the Basel, Switzerland’s The Groove Now! concert. Deming was hired to play the event in 2020. Guess what happened next: COVID. So the gig was postponed until Europe opened in 2021. Deming added a roster of guest artists to regulars Andrew Gohman skilled in subtlety and energy on bass and Zack Pomerleau on drums and harmonica. By adding Terry Hanck and Sax Gordon (saxophones) and Bill Heid (keyboard), Deming and the Jewel Tones morphed into a diamond-studded Basel blues performance.

The set was recorded and, upon further review, deemed perfectly suitable for a live CD release. Veteran Deming show goers will recognize the four+ minute format of these 11 tunes. High energy start, dense and complicated instrumental solos, followed by an over the top climactic ending, all held nicely together by Deming’s expansive guitar knowledge of blues, R&B, jazz, jump, and early ‘50s R&R. His opener, “East Side Hop” starts the show with a call to the dance floor. Each artist’s solo weaves in and out with Deming’s delightful chording as the constant. (Follow that chording throughout.) The set follows with the bluesy “Only Time Will Tell,” featuring Pomerleau’s unique drum and Chicago-styled harmonica. Also Pomerleau’s double reeds and skins duty is featured on Willie Dixon’s “Oh Baby.” Tell me the last time you’ve seen a drummer who can expertly handle an in-the-pocket shuffle and Chicago blues harmonica at the same time!

Every Deming show features the band’s ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll energy on the Fats Domino classic, “I’m Ready.” Here, the spirited reed work of Sax Gordon drives the engine. The frantic Jewel Tone pace slows with the dreamy, R&B ballad, “Every Night When I Get Home.” Pay close attention to the warm tones Deming coaxes from his archtop and how the piano and saxophones reinforce the mood.

Two other Deming set list regulars, “Bloodshot Eyes” and “Mamma Didn’t Raise No Fool,” come with all the muscle the band brings every week to its Florida regulars. “An Eye For An Eye” is the band’s deepest blues, with Pomerleau’s harp in a starring role again, sounding like any Muddy Waters’ 1950s style Chess recording.

For years, every blues fan living in the Sunshine State has followed this inspired trio at its weekly gigs. This live outing is the perfect way to either take the show home with you or experience a Sunday afternoon show at the Cortez Kitchen eating a grouper sandwich with a cold, long neck.

– Art Tipaldi 


Album review originally appeared in Blues Music Magazine