Roomful of Blues

Thursday, March 31; BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups (700 South Broadway)

With a history that stretches back to 1967, Roomful of Blues is one of the most durable ensembles in music. As one might expect, they've had many personnel changes over the years, with saxophonist Rich Lataille, who joined in 1970, currently the senior member. But even while key alumni including guitarists Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl and vocalist Lou Ann Barton have gone on to successful solo careers, Roomful has proved remarkably resilient in weathering the ups and downs of the music business by continually restocking itself with capable musicians. (Along the way, one of those players was Soulard Blues Band trombonist John Wolf, who played with Roomful from 1998 to 2000 and is helping promote this show.)

The current lineup, including fifteen-year member Chris Vachon on guitar and fronted by vocalist Mark DuFresne, who came onboard in 2002, continues Roomful's tradition of horn-driven, joint-jumping blues in fine style. With a renewed emphasis on original material to balance out their catalog of blues covers both well-known and obscure, Roomful scooped up a Handy Award for Best Blues Band in 2004 and issued a brand- new CD, Standing Room Only, on Alligator Records earlier this year. Whether they are swinging like lineal descendants of Count Basie's band, mining a slow twelve-bar groove for deep deposits of soul or kicking it up a notch with four-on-the-floor rockers like "Boomerang" from their new CD, Roomful of Blues deliver a guaranteed good time for roots music fans who like their bands big, bold and brassy.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Leroy Pierson performs from 7 to 9 p.m., with Roomful of Blues headlining at 9:30 p.m. General admission seating is $12.50 advance, $15 day of show, with tickets available at BB's.