Great music can come from any county, any city in the United States.
From Lee County and Tupelo, we’ve had a bunch including Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers, Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, the Chamber Brothers, Jimmy Gilreach, Mississippi Slim, The Delta Rhythm Boys, The Electric Toilet, The Velvelettes, Paul Thorn and of course, Elvis Presley.
The Avey Grouws Band hails from Iowa, a state known for the Grotto of the Redemption, the birthplace of sliced bread, and of course, corn, corn and more corn.
This is no ordinary band, this is one of those on the edge ready to spill over from being regional to becoming national.
One of their secret weapons is having Grammy-winning engineer/producer Casey Wasner behind the wheel of their latest album, Tell Tale Heart. Wasner, whose previous credits include a Grammy win for engineering the Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal album, TajMo, and playing drums with Keb’ Mo’ and rhythm guitar for Robben Ford stated “After spending two weeks straight in the studio with the Avey Grouws Band, I learned a couple things,” Wasner says. “The first week I learned that this band kicks ass. In the second week, I didn’t want our session to end. The hang and the music are infectious.”
“I believe in this band more than I’ve believed in any other project,” Jeni Grouws says of the collaboration she considers the best musical experience of her life.
The other part of the band is Chris Avery, a powerful guitar player and songwriter, One of the first songs to take was the classic blues rock of “Love Raining Down.”
“There was a lot of anger, especially on social media,” she says of 2020. “And then one day, during a huge storm, I thought, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if love was raining down? A whole bunch of love hitting everybody.’ ”
There’s the playful fun song, “Tell Tale Heart” between Chris and Jeni, which I’m sure burns down any house they play.
“That’s Chris and me playfully yelling at each other,” Jeni. “We argue about everything, but I could not have a better friend.”
Then there’s “Mariana” which could fit onto any early Pink Floyd album. It’s Chris showcasing his fluid, spacey guitar playing over lush cymbals before heading into a Robin Trower ramp.
Their last album, The Devil May Care (2020) released to critical acclaim, reached #10 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and received a BBMA nomination for best debut album by a new artist. The album was also nominated for four Independent Blues Awards.
The song “Rise Up” was named top song on the Ben Vee Roadhouse 66 top songs of 2020 and “Come and Get This Love” won top honors in the Unsigned Only Songwriting Competition and a finalist placement in the International Songwriting Competition.
“The music and songwriting are solid…Grouws' stirring vocals, capable of delivering sultry phrases or passionate roars…an auspicious debut.” (Jim Hynes/Elmore Magazine).
“Maybe the most important thing to understand about our band is that we are the mix of all of our Middle America backgrounds and experiences,” Grouws says. “That includes blues, folk, Americana, rock. We take what we have learned from those masters and make the music that feels the most authentic to us. This album is the best work we have ever done.”
This is great stuff.