Malcolm John Rebennack Jr (aka Dr. John) a blues influenced piano player of more than small note died June 6, 2019.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was a Gospel singer, songwriter and trail blazing guitarist.
When Debra Power and The Steve Pineo Band took to the stage in Kimberley on Friday night they were channeling the spirits of the above artists. Debra’s powerful piano playing was in full keeping with the blues traditions of Dr John and her Gospel tinged vocals took us right back to church. Added to that were the guitar and vocal skills of Steve Pineo, the organ/bass skills of Paul Wells and the solid drumming of Ross Watson. The set list lists for the evening ran the gamut of blues and Gospel tunes and original songs by both Debra and Steve. All musicians are from Calgary.
Debra and her powerhouse vocals and sparkling keyboard skills, have a long list of performance/recording credits across Canada and the U.S. While growing up in Newfoundland she was was weaned on Big Band music. Her father was a bandleader during the dance era. Encouraged by her parents, Debra studied piano in her youth. In high school she formed her first band, an all-girls group that played local concerts and venues. She then headed off to study music at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where she majored in voice. This period also saw her launch her professional career, where she began developing her broad skill set and gaining experience in R&B and Rock & Roll bands. She moved to Alberta in the late 80’s.
Steve’s band opened the first set with three tunes that included She Ain’t No Good (And I Ain’t No Better) and The Boogie Man. Debra followed up with a set list that included That’s How I Roll, Turn me Around, Just a Little Bit, Streets of Heaven, Grateful Song (for her brother Ted), I’m Coming Around and Let me Love You Tonight. In Streets of Heaven I could very easily imagine Sister Rosetta Tharpe belting out this song. The only thing missing was a blazing Sister Rosetta guitar solo (this is no reflection on Steve’s stellar solo work). There was some nice “Ticky Tickety Tick” drum fills and down home and organ back up on Grateful. The second half of the night show cased Steve and the band and more original material from Debra. During the night Steve switched out guitars for a workout on some open G slide tunes on a Pink Strat. On the tune Hard Wired for the Blues he wailed away in open D on a slide guitar that looked almost like a toy.
Debra’s second set included Even Redheads, Love Glasses, Temptation, I’m So Happy, You Bring Out the Lover and All Night Playing the Blues. In one of Debra’s song there was a classic line “You can have my husband but don’t mess with my man”.
Here are some more images from a stellar night of music ……..
For the gear heads out there: Debra uses a Roland FP-F7F. Paul uses a Nord Electro3 Keyboard with a special German Lesley Speaker effects device and a Yamaha CP4 for the bass lines. Steve uses an entry level Gretch Country Gentleman (slightly modified), a pink Squire Strat and that weird red thing he picked up in a music store in Canmore For this stellar night of music I would like to thank the two “Rays”. Ray Foxworthy for putting himself way out there to bring the band in from Calgary; Ray Gareau for the lights and sound. I am sure there was a crew of volunteers somewhere in the background that made the evening possible and for them I am truly thankful. Lastly, but not least, Debra and the band for such fine music.