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Roomful of Blues

Friday, March 25, at Wilbert's.

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No other musical "whole" has ever constituted more than the sum of its parts the way Roomful of Blues has. More than 40 players have come and gone from this venerable East Coast outfit, but its core sound and identity have remained the same for nearly four decades. No matter who is fronting the band, laying down rhythm, or working in the horn section, Roomful has always delivered high-energy, "little-big-band" sounds of all styles and colors.

When the swing craze of the last decade hit, it was as if the world had finally caught up with the jump-blues grooves Roomful had been working since its early incarnations. The band's grip on vintage R&B and rock and roll is just as strong. Mastery of classic standards is tough enough, but the Roomful crew can write 'em as well. In particular, Guitarist Chris Varchon -- who took the reins around the time of Turn It On! Turn It Up!, the band's mid-'90s Grammy-nominated disc -- has emerged as a solid tune-crafter. His contributions to the band's new offering, Standing Room Only, range from hard swing to streetwise R&B to torchy blues. Roomful's power on disc strongly suggests that it'll be raising the roof this weekend at Wilbert's.

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