Review: Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers — ‘Heart of Memphis’

Never being afraid of seizing the moment and capitalizing on an opportunity is a quality one must have to succeed in today’s harried climate and certainly a sure-fire way to fulfill your dreams. The emerging Northwest group Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers took advantage of their trip to the birthplace of the blues during IBC week in January of 2019 by snatching up some available studio time at the legendary Royal Studios with owner, engineer and producer Lawrence ‘Boo’ Mitchell, best known for his work with Al Green, Solomon Burke, and Rod Stewart. D’Amour and her core band were in Memphis on a promotional tour that turned in to an inspirational journey of discovery, now documented as the Heart of Memphis.

Most of the collection of seven new originals and the cover of a King Curtis classic were recorded live off the floor at Royal on a Friday night by vocalist and award winning songwriter Michele D’Amour and her stalwart Lover Dealers band that features Patrick McDanel on bass, Dave Delzotto on drums, guitar man Jeff Cornell, keyboardist Brian Olendorf, and Noel Barnes on saxophone. They took those inspired tracks back to Seattle, recorded the title track, added a bit of spice and mixed it up for a May 2019 release.

The Latin flavored “Another Sleepless Night,” opens the set with horn flourishes over a salsa rhythm while D’Amour sings of another lonely night without her man. Here, sax man Barnes is joined by Greg Lyons on trumpet and Greg Schroeder on trombone to form a full horn section. Cornell then throws down a gritty guitar riff for the sordid tale of a woman scorned on the Rockin’ Blues “Dirty Pool.” The sultry rhumba “Come on Over,” features some fine piano from Olendorf and a haunting solo for guest trumpeter Greg Lyons, to back up the deliciously alluring vocals from D’Amour. Sax man Noel Barnes steps up for the first solo on the soul burner about hard luck and trouble “Cradle to The Hearse,” which Barnes also co-wrote, and which also features the horn section. Drummer Dave Delzotto sets a frenetic pace for the funkified editorial of our frenzied world “No Time,” with D’Amour laying out the irony of our instant gratification culture.

The title track, co-written by D’Amour and Cornell, is a document of their trip to Beale Street and how the music seeps up from the very earth under the pavement in Memphis; the tune name-checks some of her infamous clubs and the inspiration that flows up from the big muddy; it also features Rae Gordon on backing vocals and the Barnes\Lyons\Schroeder horn section. Memphis is dubbed the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, but it’s also known for an amazing array of food, shaped by a multi-cultural mix of influences. The band pays tribute to the city on a romp through King Curtis’ “Memphis Soul Stew,” with each of the Love Dealers strutting his stuff on the spicy instrumental. The album closes with the Gospel Blues “Strange Angels,” a bittersweet testament of the joy and pain that can be found at a dance hall on any given night and the role of entertainers as ministers to the Soul.  The fifth album from Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers may prove to be their finest effort yet, as the group certainly did find the Heart of Memphis and brought her home.

(Check out Heart of Memphis at the band’s website HERE.) 

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)

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