It might seem obvious but sometimes it’s worth a reminder: the blues are alive and well. Not some artifact or style that used to be played “back in the day,” the music genre and art form that The Blues Brothers warned us in 1978 would soon “exist only in the classical records department of your local public library” does continue to thrive, in manifestations both traditional and not. When bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream came along in the late ‘60’s and cranked the established American delta blues through a stack of Marshall amps they reconstructed the format, and some five decades later that’s still progressing. In the right hands, it doesn’t even require much to do it right; in the case of bare-bones Evansville, Indiana band The Cold Stares, it takes but two people.
The Cold Stares – Chris Tapp on guitar and Brian Mullins on drums – have been around since 2014, but after being signed to Mascot Records in 2021 they put out their most self-actualized album yet, a ground-shaking record entitled Heavy Shoes. The riffs are monstrous, dense and heavy but never lifeless. The backbeat is massive, the propulsive thud of a couple of sledgehammers. If you played these songs on vinyl one would imagine the needle carving out thick canals in the record grooves. And, unmistakably, the entire battering ram two-man hard rock operation resonates off the familiar, incorruptible platform of the blues.
Give them a listen, with two menacing tunes to try here. You won’t just chase away the blues, you should have the blues running away scared as hell!