The band Moonshine Society from Washington D.C. delivers a 10-course meal of house rocking blues on their second album, Sweet Thing. Harmonica hound dog Jason Ricci is featured on the opening bump and grind blues track, “Sweet Thing, returning the favor given to him by band leader and lead vocalist Black Betty, who sang on Ricci’s Approved By Snakes. Blues Hall of Fame guitarist Joe Poppen cuts a jagged surf-blues riff on the dancefloor number “Shake.” The 1953 blues standard from Ruth Brown, “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” is transformed into a Bourbon street, second-line parade, featuring barrelhouse piano, a full horn section that features guest, Ron Holloway (Dizzy Gillespie, Susan Tedeschi, Gil Scott-Heron, Warren Haynes Band, Gov’t Mule), and blazing chops from drummer Rodney Dunton.
Black Betty demonstrates her prowess as both an accomplished vocalist and excellent songwriter on the powerful and luxuriously arranged ballad “Come On Home” that soars with sophisticated classic R&B style. Ricci returns on the rockin’ tribute to the late, great Johnny Winter “Southern Road,” joining Poppen on sizzling dual harmony leads and trading fiery solos. Betty then takes us to church and teaches us all a lesson in the bare necessities with the gospel fueled “Biscuits, Bacon And The Blues.” Everyone gets into the action on the mash up of Bill Withers “Use Me” and Dr. John’s‘ “Gilded Splinters” that evolves into a funky retro house music session. Betty throws her hat in the ring delivering a spot-on reading of the iconic ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind,” staying true to the original Etta James recording out of the deepest respect for the woman, who bridged the gap between R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. She then channels another Queen of the Blues on the smooth jazzy blues “Deal The Devil Made,” doing her best Dinah Washington, dishing out sass and spunk.
The album closes with the bonus track “The One Who Got Away.” This dynamic, contemporary blues ballad originally appeared on a benefit album for Cancer Can Rock, a nonprofit that serves musicians dealing with cancer… a worthy cause if ever there was one.
The strong offering Sweet Thing continues the mission statement that Moonshine Society forged ten years ago as fresh music school grads to deliver soulful blues and old-school R&B on their own terms.