Brown-Eyed Soul

Backed by a talented cast of characters, Erica Brown is happy about the shape she's in.

"That would be moi," Brown admits. "'Cause we're a band. It's not just me. The only way I would get more attention is if I stood on the stage naked -- and that's a horrifying sight."

"But the view from the drum set is rather nice upon occasion," Rivera offers.

"If you would just quit trying to sell that seat for twenty bucks a pop, we'd be all right," Brown jabs back. "If you got twenty dollars, you can get to see what Daddy gets to see every night."

Blues explosion: Jim Ayers (from left), Marc Larson, 
Erica Brown, Scotty Rivera and Rich Sallee are the 
Erica Brown Band.
Tony Gallagher
Blues explosion: Jim Ayers (from left), Marc Larson, Erica Brown, Scotty Rivera and Rich Sallee are the Erica Brown Band.


9:30 p.m. Friday, January 23, and Saturday, January 24, Brendan's Pub, 2009 Larimer Street, $8, 303-308-9933

It's obvious that Brown and Rivera share a certain chemistry, and it carries over into their music. In 2000, after losing two guitarists -- Butters and his successor, Black Irish's Ryan -- to fatal heart attacks, the act released its debut effort, Body Work, which offers glimpses of that magic. Steve Avedis's production is top-notch, and the players -- Brown, Rivera, Ayers, bassist Rich Sallee and guitarist Bob Pellegrino -- are equally adept. But there's a reason this record wasn't called Body of Work: Only two of the songs were originals; the rest are covers. The band was still trying to find its identity at the time, Rivera and Brown explain, and was more focused on getting out a product than writing songs.

Three years later, the band put out its sophomore release. Rough Cut Stone shows off a fully developed, absolute powerhouse that's anything but rough. Bob Yeazel handled guitar duties on Stone, as well as contributing to four of the album's tracks; while his guitar work on "I Spent a Month There One Night," "Cajun Moon" and the title track is blistering, he only augments an already impeccable ensemble that's developed an undeniable synergy. From beginning to end, on cuts like the spartan ballad "Everyman Hears Different Music," to the more traditional blues of "Bring Back the Quarters," to Brown's excellent take on Robbie Robertson's "Shape I'm In," Stone is captivating.

With a third album in the works -- this time with guitarist Marc Larson, a monster player in his own right, at the helm -- the Erica Brown Band is in great shape. And as she approaches the half-century mark, Brown's best work still lies ahead. Next month, the group will be warming the stage for the king of kings, B.B. King.

You can have your cake and eat it, too -- if you're living life by the drop.

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