If you’re a blues fan in a funk, wanting to hear something that puts a hop in your step, then Dan Treanor’s Afrosippi Band quite possibly has the cure for what ails you. Recognized as one of Colorado’s premier blues bands, the Afrosippi Band finished third at the 2013 IBCs and boasts the mad harmonica skills of Treanor (winner of the 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive – Education award for his work in the Blues In The Schools program), along with guitarist extraordinaire Michael Hossler, and the double-barreled powerhouse vocal combination of Erica Brown and Merrian (MJ) Johnson.
The band’s latest release is Born To Love The Blues (Plan-It Records) and features twelve tracks, eight originals and four covers, of blues, soul, and rock. Treanor wrote the eight originals, including the swampy “Can You Hear Me,” the crunching Hill Country-styled “Done Got Old,” the traditional “Love Ain’t Easy To Find,” “A House Is Not A Home,” and “Knocked Out,” and the sultry “Heat” and “Missing.” There’s also a nice tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell (“Mississippi Fred’s Dream”) that actually has a second-line feel to it.
The four covers are well done: Orgone’s funky midtempo ballad “Who Knows Who,” the Black Keys’ rocker “Hurt Like Mine,” a moving reading of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going To Come,” and Emeli Sandé’s “Next To Me.” I really like the combination of vocals from the ladies. They both move easily between blues and soul, traditional and contemporary, yet have their own distinctive styles. The rock-solid rhythm section (Scott Headley – drums, Jack Erwin – bass) deserves praise as well. Gary Flori adds conga drums on one track and Bill Shannon plays bass on two tracks.
Born To Love The Blues is a very enjoyable set of rocking blues and soul that is sure to satisfy blues fans. Listeners can check it out and pick it up at Treanor’s website, along with the rest of the Afrosippi Band’s catalog.
Duane Verh's review - Roots Music Report:
If Colorado doesn’t strike one right off as a blues destination, Dan Treanor’s outfit could change that. Solid harp, guitar and rhythm play, fronted by the sturdy vocals of Erica Brown and Merrian MJ Johnson, make for a most tasty “corner bar” band sound. Standouts include “Done Got Old” and “Who Knows Who”.
Adam Pearce's review, Blues Matters
DAN TREANOR’S AFROSIPPI BAND
BORN TO LOVE THE BLUES...
They say that the blues is a broad church and Dan Treanor’s Afrossippi Band are exponents of the whole church. Mr Treanor himself plays some fine guitar and the guests on this album, Erica Brown and Merrian Johnson (MJ) are vocalists of massive talent in blues, soul, gospel and rock. Add to that Michael Hossler’s lap steel, Gary Flori on congas and a wicked rhythm section of Scott Headly and Jack Erwin (drums and bass respectively) why they achieved 3rd place in the International Blues Challenge. The album touches on just about everything that we normally call blues and the best parts of the album are where they try to stretch the format a little or where they do a little of the unexpected. Take Mississippi Fred’s Dream, a delightful piece of North Mississippi with fife and drums at the heart and superb slide geetar. But it is the way that they develop the song, bringing rock & roll, soul, gospel & jazz et al to show the roots of today’s music is in blues. These are not just excellent players who have great heart for the music, they understand it as well. Right from the opener Can You Hear Me you can hear traces of the classic players and singers but it has a fresh feel to it, thoroughly energised and you can feel the pleasure in every note. Treanor’s mouth harp on Done Got Old is stunning; dynamic and carrying the song brilliantly. Hurt Like Mine plays hard, dark and powerful with more of that wonderful harmonica and Erica Brown’s vocals spitting and angry but soulful as well. On the ballad side they do a fabulous version of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Going To Come – soulful and loaded with feeling and everything the song needs; Merrian Johnson sounds like one of the few soul vocalists who can sing a note without a Whitney warble and the song hits directly to the listener’s heart. A gorgeous album, one I’ve been waiting around three years for, and I can only hope it is nominated for a stack of awards – it really is that good.
LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE Review
DAN TREANOR’S AFROSIPPI BAND WITH ERICA BROWN & MJ
Born to Love the Blues
Plan-It Recordsl – PPCD 0031
In a world where people are talking about economic inequality, here is that audacious Coloradan Dan Treanor with not one but, yes, two amazing blues divas in his band. What musical unfairness! Most bands could only wish. He’s got Erica Brown, who gets top billing, and Merrian Johnson, and both take turns on lead vocals making this band a bombastic powerhouse of female blues singers.
Treanor is no slacker on the harp, which he blows out behind the singers like a train whistle. Between his harping and guitar work, along with Michael Hossler on guitar, Scott Headley on drums and Jack Erwin and Bill shannon on bass, the band has a big fat sound that is even bigger because of the singers’ sheer prowess.
Treanor’s substantial originals on Born to Love the Blues are impressive, great songs and fine additions to the blues annals. Erica Brown does justice to Done Got Old (“I done got too old to boogie-woogie all night long . . . I used to do the boogie but now I got the blues”), with Treanor wailing madly on the blues harp. Michael Hossler, a tasteful slide player, comes in nicely on Treanor’s fine song that everyone can relate to A House Is Not a Home (Without Love), with Erica Brown again making it real.
Singer Merrian Johnson also shines on this record, with outstanding performances on Treanor’s song Mississippi Fred’s Dream, but she really comes to her own on two covers. Commonly heard in the blues repertoire, Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, is performed with such moving passion and conviction it would make old Sam Cooke proud. Interestingly, Treanor’s harp playing here is also his best, slowing it down to coax meaning into each note he plays softly with feeling. Johnson’s wonderful version of English R&B soul diva Emeli Sandé’s international megahit Next to Me, is one of the outstanding songs of the album and a great song choice for Johnson and the entire band. Great blues wall-to-wall on this disc.
—Frank Matheis - Living Blues Magazine