As the COVID-19 pandemic is closing music venues all over the United States, professional musicians are unemployed for the time being. With no places to play, nobody can come out and see them, and a huge majority of musicians’ income comes from touring. Karen Gottheimer saw this and realized that these musicians needed help and a lot of it. She contacted tech master Crafton Barnes, and Can’t Stop The Blues was born.
Can’t Stop The Blues, a 100% Not for Profit (Title Pending) Organization, is a virtual live streaming venue for artists and fans to engage worldwide. They put on live streaming concerts from various blues artists from wherever the artists are. A donation to the artist is highly suggested. However, Can’t Stop The Blues does not take any money that you donate to these artists during their live streams.
What they do is bring thousands of fans to the artist in a “virtual venue” and provide them all the information we can to help that featured artist in any way possible.
On Wednesday, April 9th, Koko Taylor Award nominee Alexis P. Suter and her band provided CTSB with video clips from their recent live show at The Extended Play Session Fallout Shelter in Norwood, MA, presented by Can’t Stop the Blues. The Fallout Shelter is a professional recording studio with a live audience, and the video clips are terrific and extremely high quality.
The first thing you’ll notice about Alexis is her deep, powerful voice. She is part of that rare breed that can give you goosebumps in just one song. Beginning the show with their song “Empty Promises” from their new CD Be Love, this show began with a huge bang. Most songs they played were from Be Love, and the songs were fantastic. A sign of a great song is when you can recall the melody line immediately after hearing, and “Empty Promises” has a fantastic melody line. I don’t judge an artist based on one song only. Most of the time. I would buy a ticket to see the Alexis P Suter Band based on that song alone. They are that good.
One of the clear highlights of the evening was the title track from their newest CD. The message is fantastic first of all, always try to spread love. Another sign of a great song is when you can’t get the song out your head. This song was stuck in my head the morning after the show. One of my favorite parts of that song is the harmonies between Suter and backing singer and percussionist Vicki Bell. Bell has this spiritual connection to the music that is visible when watching and listening to her sing with the band. You could tell how much the meaning of the song meant to both Suter and Bell. Musicians perform best when they mean what they play, and this is no exception. This song could easily be a radio hit. I could listen to it over and over and not get sick of it.
Another favorite of the evening was “Sick & Tired Blues.” The lyric “I’m so sick and tired of being sick of you” is as bluesy as the blues can get. I don’t know who did miss Alexis wrong but she sang the absolute hell out of that song. It was as if her life depended on it. Her voice is so powerful she probably came close to breaking the microphone. People in the comments section of the live feed were raving about that song and how much soul Suter sang with.
People in the comments section were also talking about guitarist Michael Louis and how great he was. Louis is an excellent guitar player and can make the instrument do whatever it needs to for the given song. He doesn’t overplay or try to take over at all, but when it’s his time to shine, he shines real bright. Michael Louis is a terrific asset to a great band.
Another favorite of the set was “Dog Eat Dog World,” also on Be Love. That song had a lot of Gospel flavor to it, and Suter’s Gospel roots are very noticeable in this song. Normally, I don’t love the effects on the guitar in songs like this, but it works perfectly in this song. The lyrics are tremendously deep. “In this dog eat dog world could you say a kind word about me” is a very emotional and moving lyric.
Once again, the harmonizing between Suter, Bell, and Louis was excellent. I experienced something I never thought I would when they played that: I felt like I was taken to Church inside of my living room. That is the beauty of both Can’t Stop the Blues and the fact that the Alexis P. Suter Band can move people that much with their music. There are plenty of great musicians, but a great musician needs to be able to connect with an audience. That is one of the things this band does best.
The Alexis P. Suter Band did almost all originals at the show, but they did do a few great covers. One was “I’m a Ram” by the Reverend Al Green. Michael Louis delivered a terrific guitar solo. I liked his usage of the wah-wah guitar pedal. Very melodic, soulful guitar playing. Louis had already impressed people by then, but people were even more impressed after “I’m a Ram.” He let loose and went to town on his guitar solo, and it was terrific.
They continued with some more by the Reverend with following “I’m a Ram” with “Take Me to the River,” dedicated to their friend Levon Helm. Helm loved Suter & the band, and they got to open for Helm over 90 times. Helm would bring out everybody at the end of the show to sing “Take Me to the River,” and Suter did the song justice. A fantastic tribute to one of the greats of all time.
However, the biggest highlight of the evening was their version of “Let It Be” by the Beatles. Before she started singer, miss Alexis explained that we need nothing more right now in this world than love, and she is trying to spread the love. She poured her full heart and soul into that song, and it was simply beautiful. But the most beautiful part of this how much the fans watching connected with the performance. SO many people in the comments section said that they were crying. Not just a few tears, sobbing. What that shows is that this connection that we all feel to music is real. It’s all real. Even though we weren’t there in person, Alexis P. Suter’s message was felt by everyone watching.
As Michael Louis played another moving guitar solo yet again, tears poured down Suter’s face. Singing while crying is extremely difficult to pull off, as crying clogs up the vocal cords. I don’t know how miss Suter did, but she did, and it was incredible. This was without a doubt one of the best versions I’ve ever heard of “Let It Be.”
The crowd at the Fallout Shelter gave the band a well deserved standing ovation as tears continued to stream down Suter’s face. I did not read a single negative comment about the band’s performance in the live feed, every person thoroughly enjoyed the show. All the band members commented that they were very moved by the outpouring of love and support they received for their show.
Next time the Alexis P. Suter Band is in Boston, I am going to try to go see them. If you’ve never seen them, change that. I know that I will be changing that the next chance I get. Alexis P. Suter is one of the most soulful singers I’ve heard in a long time, and her band is top-notch. There is no voice out there quite like hers. If Howlin Wolf and Koko Taylor had a child, her name would be Alexis P. Suter.
***All photos were taken by the Extended Play Sessions Fallout Shelter in Norwood, MA.***