The Stokes Brothers' new disc is served well by its title. Alongside Blues & Beyond's solid bar-band blues are hints at a sound in the making: an inventive blues-rock trio format that takes the occasional jazz toke.
The Stokes Brothers' potential is most evident in Jim Stokes's lead-guitar work. His delivery and approach vary from track to track, and his play is solid throughout. He's at home with both rock and blues, though he's also grounded in jazz -- especially with respect to technique. These forces collide most effectively on the tasty hybrid instrumental "Pocket Change."
Similarly varied influences permeate the songwriting of Jim and bassist Bob Stokes. Tracks such as "In the City" and "Just the Way It Is" evoke the spirit and substance of the Steve Miller Band's better work. If they stay on the path they've laid out here, the Stokes Brothers -- including drummer Mike Delia -- could become one of the area's more interesting outfits.