Sunday, October 4, 2015

Blues Blast Magazine DVD Review: Chaz DePaolo – Live In Iona


This DVD review was originally published in the June 5, 2014 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Chaz DePaolo – One Night Live in Iona | DVD Review

Smoke Tone Records

11 songs / 1:20:36

Chaz DePaolo is not only an extremely talented blues and rock guitarist, he is also one of the hardest working men in show business. He has been on tour for ages, playing 150 shows a year all over the U.S., Canada and Europe, sometimes barely making ends meet, but plugging along for the love of the music. Along the way he has earned a loyal cadre of fans and caught the ear of some fine artists, and has shared the stage with the likes of Buddy Miles, Jose Feliciano, David Maxwell, Blue Lou Marini, and Blues Blast Magazine perennial favorite Michael Packer!

Besides releasing four solid albums, he can also be heard on projects from Little Milton, Kim Wilson, Rory Block and Charlie Musclewhite. One Night Live in Iona is Chaz’s first DVD, and this disc provides his fans with something fresh as he has not released a new CD since 2009. This is a recording of the March, 2013 show at Lebanon, Pennsylvania’s Zion of Iona Methodist Church. DePaolo handles the vocal and guitar chores, and he is joined by Hank Kaneshige on bass, Cliff McComas on drums, and Rob Chaseman on the sax.

This DVD is set up so that it can be watched in its entirety, or individual songs can be selected from the main menu. If the entire show is watched there are no pauses between songs, and all of Chaz’s interplay with the audience is included. Up front there is an intentionally grainy introduction that shows the stage being assembled and the arrival of the band. At the end of the disc there is a bonus five-minute question and answer session with DePaolo, in which he sits with an acoustic guitar perched on his knee while he candidly talks to the interviewer.

This is no ordinary church performance -- they made up for a relatively small stage by bringing in a full lighting truss and a fog machine, and visually it is appealing. The image quality is clear (this was shot in HD) and they did not skimp on the cameras, with at least four in play for this performance. Also, the audio portion is very well recorded and mixed, and as far as live recordings this is about as good as you could hope for. This means that there is little to distract the viewer from the band’s performance, and is electrifying.

Chaz has a hearty voice with obvious emotion and his guitar work is complex. His command of electric blues is undeniable, and his playing is flavored with hints of jazz and funk. His technical skills are tempered by a genuine feel for the music, and Chaseman, Kanashige and McComas have a tight connection to DePaolo so that they work together as a single entity.

The band runs through two tunes from, Flirtin’ with the Blues, including the opener, “Chicago 101.” DePaolo starts this short instrumental with a classic 12-bar blues riff, and introduces each member of the band before trading solos with Chaseman. Kanashige and McComas hold down a solid bottom line and deliver the goods without showing off, which would be a temptation with such a small ensemble. The other song from this album is “Stormin’,” a blues rocker with a slightly funkier backline and an assortment of tones that show that his Stratocaster is not a one-trick pony.

Much of the evening was spent covering five songs from his most recent release, Bluestopia. A standout of these was “Woman in a Black Dress.” This is a sexy slow-rolling blues number that Chaz belts out with heartfelt emotion while never missing a cue on the guitar. DePaolo accepts this leadership role with ease and he is truly a bluesman of the highest order.

Chaz draws on his history with The Groundhogs, the English band that he fronted for 2 ½ years, by including two of their songs. “No More Doggin” is a fun rock and roll song that can also be found on his Bluestopia album. “Cadillac Baby” is of the same ilk, though on this evening he got the Iona audience involved with a little call and response (and they actually did it!).

Of course, Chaz is first and foremost a guitar player, and he proved it handily with “Voodoo Style Chazy,”his interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s classic blues rocker. In this same vein, for the encore they pulled out a new song, “Slo Bite,” a tribute to the late Roy Buchanan. DePaolo shows off his chops on this slow-burning instrumental that is packed with innovative guitar pyrotechnics and a dynamic sax interlude from Chaseman.

One Night Live in Iona is a fun DVD that gives great insight into Chaz DePaolo’s live show that is always tight and entertaining. Rumors are that there will soon be a CD with just the audio portion of this show, but the visual part of this package is equally compelling and should not be missed. If you are a fan of electric blues go ahead and splurge for the DVD – chances are good you will watch it again and again!


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