Going for broke: American Relay at Whiskey Dick’s on Friday
The sound might evoke the White Stripes and the Detroit Cobras, but American Relay hails from that other D-town.
“We get some comparisons to the Dirtbombs, obviously (the) White Stripes,” said guitarist and vocalist Nick Sullivan, half of the Denver-based duo. “The connection is always going to be there. We try to focus a little more on writing a little bit more rocking punk music.”
Alex Hebert, who plays the drums, washboard and dobro, agreed: “We make the most of what we have instead of the least.”
American Relay is among dozens of acts injecting rock and punk influences into the blues at the Deep Blues Music and Film Festival in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The band plays Sunday, July 20, the last day of the festival. Before that, the duo will make its second South Shore appearance and hopes to transform Whiskey Dick’s Saloon into a juke joint Friday, May 16.
“We’re just trying to bring the blues back in a rocking fashion,” Sullivan said. “We do a lot of Delta blues in a fast, kind of punkish electric style.”
Still, American Relay remains faithful to the blues’ roots. In addition to a number of originals, the band’s “Corn & Oil” includes versions of two slide-guitar standards, “Poor Boy” and “Shake Yo’ Money Maker.” Elmore James, “The King of the Slide Guitar,” penned the latter, and the former is one of the oldest songs in the blues canon.
Hebert and Sullivan work all year in order to be able to tour each summer. They’re not anticipating making any money when they load up their Subaru Outback wagon and hit the road.
“The goal of going out on the road is pretty much to break even right now,” Sullivan said.