There is a new, powerful voice on the rise in both the Boston and national soul and blues scenes and her name is Julie Rhodes. I have been privileged to see her twice in the past month at Atwood’s Tavern, but she will not be playing tiny venues for much longer.
This review combines both shows, especially since the lighting (and thus the photos) was better the first time I saw her.
In a word, she is fantastic. She’s about to release her debut album, Bound to Meet the Devil (out Feb. 26), which she recorded at the iconic FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals. Rhodes has already made an impact on the Boston music scene and is poised to take the country by storm.
Her only instrument, that I have seen so far, is her voice, but what a voice it is! One can tell from the timbre and intensity of her vocal that Rhodes truly feels the blues of which she writes and sings. My favorite song from the album is her cover of Son House’s “Grinnin’ in Your Face.” There is incredible depth in the way she interprets the song.
Now to the live shows. Julie was backed by different musicians at the two shows. In December, she brought Peter Parcek and Patrick Coman on guitars, Joe Klompus on bass, and Andrew Jones on drums. This week — and for her entire January residency at Atwood’s — she is backed by the Union Band.
Opening the more recent show was Cowboy and Lady, a duo from Rhode Island, who play traditional country songs and blues. That duo is comprised of Tyler-James Kelly (The Silks) and Jess Powers, and they delivered a set of songs that included covers of George Jones and John Prine. I enjoyed their set quite a bit and would like to see them again.
Opening the first show was the Parcek with his Trio and their special guest Patrick Coman. They performed without Rhodes for an hour before she came to the stage to join them. I loved their set and suspect I will see them again soon, even if the same players do not appear.
Unfortunately, the venue had a glitch with one of the speakers which meant the opener was delayed and Rhodes had to cut her set short. I stayed later than I should have — I had to get up early for work the following day — but it was worth the sleep deprivation to see her entire set.