Live Review

See Julie Rhodes, Hear Her Powerful Voice

Julie Rhodes on March 4, 2016

Julie Rhodes at Thunder Road

I saw Julie Rhodes perform 2.1 times (the .1 comes from seeing her sing one song at a show with another band) prior to this CD release show at Thunder Road, a relatively new venue in the Boston area, and still I was unprepared for the powerful performance I witnessed this evening.

I understand that album release shows deliver a different kind of energy than other shows but the magic that poured from the stage was intense and incredible!

Julie is a young, Boston-based soul and blues singer whose voice is reminiscent of a combination of Etta James, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin. Not that she sounds like any one of them – it is the power of Julie’s voice that gets into my soul in the same way as those three amazing women do.

Julie’s debut album, released a week or so before this show, is Bound to Meet the Devil and it is stunning. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama at the famous FAME studios, the songs are a mix of soul, blues, gospel, and rock. The band this night was mostly the band on the album with some notable additions.

Jonah Tolchin on guitar, Danny Roaman on guitar, Matt Murphy on bass, Michael Bosco on drums, Brendan Moore on keys, and ‘Sonny Jim’ Clifford on harmonica comprise the band; most of them appear on the album. They were ably assisted by Jess Powers, Keri Anderson, and Sara Azriel on backing vocals, and a horn section consisting of Marc Presler on trumpet, Kat Dobbins on trombone, and Mike McLaughlin on saxophone.

“Go on and leave me/like another weed in your garden” is the start of ‘In Your Garden’.  That song gives me chills! Truth be told, her voice gives me chills, regardless of whether she is singing an original song or a cover. Another favorite song is ‘Grinnin’ in Your Face’ which contains the line ‘A true friend is hard to find’, one of the truest things ever written.

For about half the set, I was up against the stage. I watched Julie enter a ‘zone’ where she hardly appeared to realize there were people in the room; she was so immersed in the music and truly poured her heart and soul into every note she sang. She was grinning from ear to ear the entire time and certainly heard and acknowledged the applause. This was an incredible experience for me, and no doubt for Julie as well.

There were two openers at this show. The first was Abbie Barrett and Band. I have seen Abbie’s name on the schedules of various venues I frequent, but this was my first time seeing her.

Her style seemed a little more punk-rock than I generally prefer but she is a talented guitarist with a good voice. Her band members are Ed Valauskas on bass, Mike Oram on guitar, and Josh Kiggans on drums.

The next opener was The Silks, a beloved band from Rhode Island. I saw them perform once a few years ago and was looking forward to hearing them again. Their style, according to their Facebook page, is rock and blues rock. There seemed to be some country rock in their music as well.

The Silks is Tyler-James Kelly on guitar and vocals, Jonas Parmalee on bass, and Sam Jodrey on drums. They rocked hard and got the crowd warmed up for Julie (not that we truly needed to be warmed up).

I predict that Julie will experience a meteoric rise to becoming a national act. She is heading to SXSW in Austin next week, and I have a feeling I will see her at the Americana Music Association Festival in Nashville later this year. From there, there should be no stopping her! Go see her now while you have the opportunity to see her in small venues.

This review was originally published on Suze Reviews the Blues and contains more photos.

Great review Suze! Here's mine from GoLocalProv where I also predict she's going places at SXSW -

Thanks Ken! Your review is great too. Julie is definitely going places!