rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 09/09/2005
Steve Ditzell and The Blue Lightning Band Rocks The Waterfront
by Gary Hill

Looking at Steve Ditzell's musical credits over the years would lead one to expect a strong show from him and his band. Based on the show that I saw on Saturday September 3rd at the Left Bank stage of On The Waterfront, you would still not be fully prepared. Ditzell and his cohorts (Dave Kaye on bass and Marty Binder on drums) simply tore up the stage - and they did it all musically, as there was not a lot of stage presence on show.

If you are looking for a musical comparison to the type of blues that Ditzell performs, I would have to say that it has the authenticity of a Muddy Waters or Jr. Wells, but with a hard rocking intensity like Stevie Ray Vaughn brought to the medium. This music seriously rocks out in smoking style, but still is rooted deeply in the down home blues stylings. Whatever the description, though, these guys are among the best on the local scene to deliver it.

Ditzell's history includes playing for such blues greats as Jr. Wells, Ko Ko Taylor, A.C. Reed and Buddy Guy, thereby lending that authentic air to his music. He also played with the great SRV, so the rocking end of his sound is apparent before hearing the group, too. The varying stylings merge into a sound that is all blues and all Ditzell. The man is one of the best blues guitarists I have ever heard, and that certainly helps to add to the experience. The truth is, though, he has a killer voice, as well.

If there is any place that the band might need a little assistance it's in that stage presence routine. They just got up and played sort of workman like in their approach. While those of raised on hard rock might find this unusual, my guess is that this is their way of letting the music rule the show - and what awesome music it is!

The group played both blues standards and originals and they even through in such chestnuts as "Glad" and "Texas Flood". The latter was dedicated to the people hit by Hurricane Katrina, and Ditzell even changed the lyrics to represent that fact. The whole show was top notch, and even included a guest appearance from Bob Levis of Ernie and The Po Boys - who sat in for several songs. I am really flabbergasted that I haven't seen these guys live before. They are without question one of the best blues bands in the area and I intend to see them again - you should too.

Photos by Eric Meli

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