Trampled Under Foot Denver Day of Rock Denver, CO May 24, 2014
The Blues runs in the family. At least that's the case for a number of families over the years. Morganfield, Dickenson, Brooks, to name a few. The latest blues brood to hit the scene goes by the name of Schnebelen. Siblings Danielle, Nick and Kris learned to play together in their hometown of Kansas City, MO and eventually formed Trampled Under Foot.
Danielle plays bass and belts a mean vocal. Nick plays guitar and sings as well while Kris is a drummer. The family filled the bill for the classic power trio. The band toured extensively and released several CDs and DVDs. In 2011, they put out Wrong Side of the Blues on their own TUF Records label. The album garnered widespread attention and resulted in a recording contract with the Concord Music Group which, in turn released the band's latest album, Badlands in 2013.
Kris recently left the band and was replaced by Kansas City colleague Jan Faircloth. At the same time, TUF expanded to a quartet with the addition of keyboardist Mike "Shinetop" Sedovic. Those two along with Danielle and Nick form the current, touring version of TUF which played the Denver Day of Rock festival in downtown Denver on May 24.
For Saturday afternoon's set, Danielle fronted the band with Nick and his guitar to the left and Shinetop on the right side of the stage. Certainly, putting the cute chick front and center was a good marketing move, but Danielle was much more than that, delivering the blues with force and grace. Despite her petite stature, even in her six in heels, she belted the blues with power and feeling. Her bass playing equaled her vocal force. In fact, she was nominated as best blues bassist for the 2012 Blues Music Awards. She was rock solid all afternoon and, on a couple of occasions, laid down some especially funky and intricate bottom.
Nick proved to be equally charismatic with his own vocal style on at least a third of the songs where he sang lead. His guitar fills were consistently incisive and his slashing solos pulled the pain from his soul and spilled it all over the stage and the crowd. Usually brother and sister took turns singing, but occasionally they joined forces for some tight, bluesy harmonies. One interesting aspect of these siblings is that they are both left handed, making for a slightly off kilter, yet still uniform stage presence.
The song selection consisted mostly of band originals, many from the recent Badlands album, including the opener, "Bad, Bad Feeling." We also heard "Pain in My Mind," one that featured some of those vocal harmonies. The set concluded with some cover tunes, including one that appears on Badlands, James Brown
's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World." That one was a showcase for Danielle to let her vocals rip in the best searing, pleading Brown tradition.
Another cover was "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," originally popularized by Big Maybelle. This one showcased the band's experience and professionalism. Just after the song got underway, Danielle tried to adjust the mic stand which came apart in her hand. She was left holding the mic and a remnant of the stand in her left hand while she used the fingers on her right hand to slap the strings on her bass fret board to keep the bass line running. A tech guy quickly ran on stage and reassembled the mic stand while Danielle kept playing and singing. Clearly, the tune should have been renamed, "One Broken Mic Stand Don't Stop No Show."
Danielle introduced the closer by saying, "Well, you know, we have to do THAT song." Then they broke into Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot." No one offered any explanation about any relationship between the name of the band and that song, but sonically, it fit right in with the rest of the set.
Although only two members of the Schnebelen family played on Saturday, the family bonds run deeply through the band. Their dad, Bob Schnebelen co-wrote some of the songs on Wrong Side of the Blues and their mom, Lisa Swedlund, sang backing vocals on several tracks on both of their most recent albums. Blues family values; the best kind.