Meet the Band: Jeff Powers (vocals, three-string cigar box guitar, kick and tambourine)
Guitar Hero: Powers says he's played guitar all his life and he "studied" the blues on his own before earning a classical guitar degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. "I was sick of it by then," he says of playing classical music. "I was getting good but I was getting sick of it. I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan play and knew I needed to do that."
South of the Border: He moved to Mexico for a short time where he worked as a teacher. Somebody called him and asked if he played blues and wanted to play in a band. He agreed and then it was on. "That was fantastic," he says of the experience. "Mexico City was wild. We played at parties and bars in the middle of nowhere. The characters are different down there. You get lost in there. You feel a sense of freedom because nobody is looking over you." Powers was there for six years. "I partied way too much," he says. He then moved back to the States and lived in Syracuse where he really got into the blues.
Why You Should Hear Him: For his new album, If It Ain't This It's That, he plays a three-string cigar box that he picked up simply because "it looked cool." He also stomps on a trunk with a kick pedal, creating one hell of a racket. The album opens with the Black Keys-like "Dirt Road Blues/Beer And Whiskey Coffee And Cigarettes," a heavy garage blues song that has a real edge to it, and never lets up. "Live, I have to be careful with the vocal when I distort it that much and people can't understand the lyrics," he says. "I used to listen to [local rockers] Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival, and I love that megaphone sound. I wanted to keep the record real raunchy."
Where You Can Hear Him: jeffpowers.net
Where You Can See Him: Jeff Powers performs with Dolfish and the Ericks at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at the Beachland Tavern.