Colorado’s Lionel Young Band is rolling into town after a blues festival-filled year, and they are bringing along quite the pedigree. The band won the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in 2011, and Young won the IBC as a solo-duo act in 2008, making Young the only two-time winner of the IBC in its 28-year history. In addition to critical acclaim, Young and/or his bandmates have played alongside Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Etta James, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and Count Basie, and performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the 2012 Democratic National Convention with James Taylor, The Today Show and Prairie Home Companion — the Boulder-based blues band is kind of a big deal.
From the wailing riffs of “Knockin’ These Blues Around” to the lively piano-led rocker “Blues and Boogie Woogie,” the band infuses their songs with electric energy and jubilant soul. Young demonstrates his versatility on the funky “You Were Wrong” with an intro on electric violin before switching back to the electric guitar. The moody violin “riffs” on “Tears Falling on Your Tombstone” are filled with palpable loss and woe. Groovy tracks like “Night Train” will get you swinging, and the band broadens their range with the soulful, finger-snapping a cappella track “Bring it On Home,” where they employ five-part harmonies. The Lionel Young Band wears its heart on its sleeve, and it alludes to this emotional bravado in songs like “Somethin’ Bout a Rumba” when Young sings, “Can’t find no soul in no R&B. There’s nothing to listen to or is just me?”
Hot off the success of their last album On Our Way to Memphis, the members of the Lionel Young Band joined the legendary blues agency, Piedmont Talent, in Sept. 2012 (the same agency that signed Canned Heat and Candye Kane). The band is currently in rehearsals for a new album. “We’ve been writing tunes and really looking to do different stuff,” Young told BluesWax in 2012. “Some of the stuff we’ve been writing about has been more socially conscious.” Young also collaborated with Delta blues musician Tab Benoit on songs about the BP oil spill for Benoit’s Louisiana nonprofit, Voices of the Wetlands.
Lionel Young Band plays with The Vipers 8 pm Saturday, Feb. 2, at Cozmic; $13 adv., $18 door.