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Primitive, ass-shakin' rock

Black Diamond Heavies
Points East Pub
Milwaukee, WI
June 16, 2008
Black Diamond Heavies Black Diamond Heavies Black Diamond Heavies

Story by Andrea Jenels
Photos by Lynn Allen

With no more than a Fender Rhodes 72 with fuzz pedals and drums complete with tambourine attached to a hi-hat, the Black Diamond Heavies treated Milwaukee to a grass roots southern-rock fan fare on Monday night. The Nashville based duo are currently in the midst of their Midwestern tour, hypnotizing everyone in their path with infectious, ass-shakin' rock and blues.

Being the son of a preacher has definitely made its mark on John Wesley Meyers, the duo's keyboardist and scruffy voiced frontman. Wearing a wifebeater and jeans with his long tangled hair covering most of his face, Meyers wriggled and writhed on the piano bench as he launched into a preacher-like spectacle with plenty of references to the devil, women, drugs, and loneliness. With a cigarette dangling from his lips he testified about what seems like every man's struggle with the highs and lows of love, temptation, and self control. And almost too perfect of a fit is the other half of the duo Van Campbell, on drums, whose southern family roots just happen to lye in bourbon distilling.

Traditionally when you think of a garage/blues band you picture wailing slide guitars blaring from too-loud amps, but such is not the case with the Black Diamond Heavies. Meyers' fingers worked magic on the Fender Rhodes creating the illusion of both an electric guitar professing the blues while the fuzzy organ-bass lies steadily underneath. Meyers' deep scraggly vocals were evocative of a soulful and sweet Joe Cocker crossed with the maniacal psychedelic spewing of Arthur Brown. The result is one of gospel/blues persuasion leaving the listener longing for redemption and a shot of whiskey at the same time.

Black Diamond Heavies new album, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, (2008, Alive Records) continues in their gritty, down & dirty style with Meyers' swampy vocals and Campbell's meticulous drumming. Such can be heard on the fast paced assault of "Nutbush City," while a lingering brass section accompanies Myers' soulful love-struck lyrics on "Bidin My Time." As the summer festival months approach, Black Diamond Heavies have proven to be a welcome attraction on both the blues & rock scene with their primitive, stripped down approach to Motown, Gospel, and Soul.

Black Diamond Heavies

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