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  Alligator Records has set a January 11, 2005 release date for new CDs from opposite ends of the blues spectrum (Watch for Cornbread's reviews). The horn-fueled, jumping, swinging, award-winning band Roomful of Blues' STANDING ROOM ONLY follows in the footsteps of their Grammy-nominated Alligator debut, THAT'S RIGHT!. Composer, pianist, harmonica virtuoso and singer/songwriter Corky Siegel returns with CORKY SIEGEL'S TRAVELING CHAMBER BLUES SHOW, another genre-breaking, ear-pleasing musical mix from one of the blues world's most visionary artists.

ROOMFUL OF BLUES – STANDING ROOM ONLY (AL 4900) The great Count Basie called them “the hottest blues band I've ever heard.” DownBeat said the band is “in a class by itself.” Roomful of Blues is all this and more. With an almost non-stop performance schedule for the last 36 years, Roomful of Blues has earned critical, popular and radio success and a legion of fans around the globe. Twice, the prestigious DownBeat International Critics Poll selected Roomful of Blues as Best Blues Band. They joined the Alligator Records family with THAT'S RIGHT! in 2003. The CD earned massive amounts of praise and received yet another Grammy© nomination. Now they're back with STANDING ROOM ONLY, an utterly hip-shaking set of songs highlighting the vocal and instrumental power of the band.

An eight-piece unit led by guitarist Chris Vachon, the band has never sounded fresher or stronger. With vocalist/harpist Mark DuFresne, bassist Brad Hallen, drummer Jason Corbiere, keyboardist (and newest member of the group) Travis Colby, baritone and tenor saxophonist Mark Earley along with long-time members tenor and alto saxophonist Rich Lataille (the longest-standing member of the group) and trumpeter Bob Enos, STANDING ROOM ONLY swings with ferocity and rocks with urgency and purpose. Moving effortlessly from eight originals to six carefully chosen covers, the expertly executed songs sizzle from start to finish.

It all began in Westerly, Rhode Island in 1967 when guitarist Duke Robillard and keyboardist Al Copley started a band that played tough, no-holds-barred Chicago blues. They soon began exploring the swinging, jumping blues, R&B and jazz of the 1940s and 1950s, and added a horn section in 1970. In 1974, they performed with Count Basie, and a few years later, legendary songwriter Doc Pomus helped them land their first record deal. In 1977, Roomful of Blues' self-titled debut album on Island Records (recently reissued on Hyena Records) brought them to the attention of fans and critics from coast to coast.

Roomful recorded the critically acclaimed Hot Little Mama for their own Blue Flame label and two successful albums for the Varrick label during the 1980s. In 1994 they released Dance All Night, their first featuring guitarist Chris Vachon (who joined the band in 1990) and harpist/vocalist Sugar Ray Norcia. Radio play was increasing, as was the band's stature. Their 1995 album, the Grammy©-nominated Turn It On! Turn It Up!, was a remarkable mix of big band swing and rock 'n' roll, bringing the band its greatest radio and sales success to date, and giving them credibility with the rock radio audience.

In addition to their band recordings, Roomful of Blues have often backed legendary musicians like Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy McCracklin, Roy Brown, Joe Turner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and Earl King—stars of the 1940s and 1950s blues scene, and the very people who created the music that Roomful still keeps vital and alive. Roomful recorded albums with Turner, Vinson and King during the 1980s, and all three recordings received Grammy© nominations. The Roomful Horns backed many other artists as well, including Canadian star Colin James on his double platinum album (in Canada), Colin James and the Little Big Band, and Stevie Ray Vaughan on his 1984 Live At Carnegie Hall album on Epic.

In 2002, singer/harpist Mark DuFresne took over the vocal duties, and the band began a return to their jazzy, jump-blues musical roots. Their winning combination of jump, swing, blues, R&B and soul remains their calling card, as does their ability to fill the dance floor. Since the release of THAT'S RIGHT!, the band has toured—as they always have—virtually non-stop, hitting cities from coast to coast, and traveling abroad to Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey and Russia.

In 2005, Roomful of Blues will once again hit the road hard, bringing their horn and guitar-fueled music to fans around the world. With their non-stop touring schedule, long-time fans and new converts alike can see for themselves why The San Francisco Examiner called them “the hottest, most solid and wonderfully entertaining band around.” With STANDING ROOM ONLY, they have all the proof they'll ever need.

CORKY SIEGEL'S TRAVELING CHAMBER BLUES SHOW (AL 4901) Corky Siegel has been bringing his critically acclaimed, blues-influenced music to worldwide audiences for four decades. His groundbreaking Chamber Blues, (a potent and irresistible combination of classical and blues music), first heard on Corky's 1994 Alligator release, CORKY SIEGEL'S CHAMBER BLUES, integrated the delicate structure of and complex qualities of chamber music with the emotion and spontaneity of the blues. Now, with CORKY SIEGEL'S TRAVELING CHAMBER BLUES SHOW, the group pushes the boundaries even further out, with fresh ideas and an unabashed sense of discovery.

Recorded live, CORKY SIEGEL'S TRAVELING CHAMBER BLUES SHOW puts Corky's creative genius on full display as he and his group refine this new musical genre right in front of their audience's eyes and ears. It's a sound renowned writer Studs Turkel describes as “a joyous marriage of classical music and the blues.”
Blending classical and blues was not a departure for Corky, but a continuation of his life's work. Described as “the square peg in the round pigeonhole of music,” Chamber Blues, according to Siegel, “opens minds and souls of everyone who hears it. “The secret,” he continues, “is that the compositions themselves juxtapose blues and classical flavors. This mix just flows out – it's who I am, a product of both Seiji Ozawa and William Russo, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.”

Renowned for his recordings in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, Corky counted numerous famous musicians as his personal friends. Among them was Chicago Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa, who would often drop by Corky's gigs and stay the whole night. “Ozawa wanted my band to jam with his band, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” Sure enough, the first jam took place in 1968, when Siegel-Schwall and the Chicago Symphony played William Russo's Three Pieces For Blues Band And Symphony Orchestra, and it was a smash success.

After the successful performance with the Chicago Symphony, Siegel-Schwall Blues Band went on to perform with the New York Philharmonic in 1969. Siegel recorded Three Pieces For Blues Band And Orchestra with the San Francisco Symphony under conductor Seiji Ozawa for the Deutsche Grammophon label. The album was released in 1973 and it quickly became a major seller. In 1976, Siegel recorded William Russo's Street Music with maestro Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony. The album won the French government's Grand Prix du Disque when it was released in 1979. The album also received the Recording of Special Merit citation in Stereo Review in 1979 and again in 1988 for the re-released compact disc.
Since the first Chamber Blues release in 1994, the group has performed all over North America, thrilling audiences and leaving presenters overjoyed. They've received many awards and honors, including The Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest “Meet The Composer” Award, the Grand Prix Du Disc Award (France's award for excellence in recorded music), and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. The Austin Chronicle says Siegel “has a bewitching way of blending the torrid wail of the blues with the orderly song of classical strings, drawing unexpected sounds from each and the best from both.”

Now, with CORKY SIEGEL'S TRAVELING CHAMBER BLUES SHOW and a seemingly unending series of performances dates, more and more people will experience this groundbreaking, satisfying, and utterly delightful musical hybrid. “The whole concept of Chamber Blues is not experimental,” says Corky, “it's natural.”

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