Blackburn Brotherhood

The surprise hit of Toronto's recent Blues Summit showcases was this powerful, Toronto-based four-piece, a configuration of three Blackburn brothers and bassist Mark Ayee. A rich, beefy stew of blues slammed into elements of R&B and funk, lead vocalist/B3 whiz kid Duane joins crack guitarist Brooke and drummer Cory to lift a proud family name to the next level — father Bobby Dean held down organist detail at Toronto's famed Zanzibar for years. This exceptional 12-song release marries sturdy originals to classics like "Hush," "Fever" and the Neville's "Sister Rosa," announcing a home-grown talent that channels the best of Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia, seasoned with tough urban flair. Duane's drop-dead vocal strengths, coupled with a skin-tight rhythm section and Brooke's adventurous leads, deliver a tightly confident sound that's altogether new again in their hands. Elements of the Isleys, Sly Stone and AWB coalesce with Gil-Scott Heron and Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, with a jazz-lovin' hint o'fBlue Note sophistication found in their instrumental abilities (check out the standalone "Back at the Zanzibar"), making this a band to watch. Their live show is a born-again testament to the deep-rooted talents of this genetic powerhouse. (Make it Real)