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The Informants - Crime Scene Queen

Wipe It Off Records

12 songs; 48:21 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Retro Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Roots Rock, Zydeco

This week let’s catch up with a hopping, fun band that makes me want to move to Denver CO, to be able to see them perform on a regular basis. The Informants’ second CD, “Crime Scene Queen” is so good that, back in January in Memphis, it won the International Blues Challenge Best Self-Produced CD! (Actually, they tied for first with the Laurie Morvan Band). Each Blues society from around the world could submit their region’s best self-produced CD. All of the submissions were judged on (1) Musical Performance, (2) Audio Quality of the Presentation, (3) Cover Art and Design and (4) Credits and Liner Information.

The Informants managed to avoid the too common problem of all songs sounding the same. While this is not really a “Blues” CD, there is plenty of variety found in the catchiest tunes and ear-worms I’ve found in a while. Anchored in ample competence and musicianship, their enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. Primary songwriter Mark Richardson (keyboard/accordion/trumpet) focuses on themes to which we can all relate: celebration (“Get Twisted”), heartache (“Nothing But A Bad Break”), redemption (“Salvation”), and fatalism (“Travelin' On”).

Versatility reigns across the twelve original tracks (save one) manifest in backing vocals (that range from Gospel to show choir) to jazz trumpet to flute to soulful saxophone to blistering Rockabilly guitar to a ready-for-anything rhythm section. The songs range from break-neck Rock and Rollers to slow ballads.

The real spark plug of this seven piece band is the exciting lead vocalist and sexy fashion maven Kerry Pastine. She and the band are smart enough to understand that a performing band is putting on a show and should dress for the part. Why can’t more bands understand that people do not want to pay money to see show performers who are attired just like them? Other band members include Mike "Mac" McMurray, bass and vocals; Paul Christophersen, drums and vocals; Paul Shellooe, guitar and vocals; Kenny Plum, tenor sax and vocals; Jonny Love, baritone sax, tenor sax and vocals. Guests are Hazel Miller, Sheryl Renee, and William Lynch – vocals, and Jeremy Lawton (producer) – organ, tambourine, chains.

As for the music, according to Richardson in an interview on their website, “I think it's basic: Music is for dancing. Music is made so it moves you. A lot of people are looking for a sound that they haven't heard in a long time, a sound that made people move.” Pastine added, “It's fun, but there's an element of where it sounds dirty and dangerous, but it's a big, really fun happy sound. So, there's that allure to it, and of course, we're naughty. So I suppose it makes other people want to be naughty, too.”

It is time to get “informed” – hell, it’s past time! Unless you are one of those Blues purists still pissed off at Muddy Waters for going electric, you are going to dig this CD.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

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