Captain Ivory returns to the fabulous Ark in Ann Arbor for a feast of rock music with special guests Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils.
Double Trouble: Captain Ivory and Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils
The Ark has been bringing world class music to Michigan for over 50 years and tonight was no exception. Hearty Michiganders didn’t let nasty winter ice and snow keep them from hearing great rock and blues simmering with soul from Captain Ivory and Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils.
This really is a double bill of outstanding Michigan music. We’ve been fans of Captain Ivory since we saw them jamming at the Water Hill Music Festival. Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils have beguiled our ears since we had the pleasure of catching them at the Honky Tonk Throwdown at PJ’s Lager House a few years back. Hearing both bands on one night is good for the body and the soul.
Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils
First up is Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils. This band is one of the hardest working bands in the state. They are constantly touring the country to deliver their unique blend of simmering blues splashed with soul and a pinch of outlaw country. The dynamic duo powering the band is Jennifer Westwood (vocals) and Dylan Dunbar (guitar). Keeping the band on point and in the pocket this evening is Ken Blaznek (drums) and Alex Lyon (bass).
Opening with “Divorcee” and “Bad Luck Charm”, the band sounded in top form. If Jennifer Westwood hadn’t mentioned that she was recovering from the flu, you would never know it. Her voice sounded rich and vibrant on the splendid “Soulful Dress” and equally stunning on “Cowgirl Blues”. The sparkling fretwork of Dylan Dunbar adds brightness and color to each song. His slide guitar shimmered like a hot desert highway on “Walking Blues”. However, it was the Wes Montgomery swing and the sonic glory of Jennifer’s voice on Eva Cassidy’s “Wade In The Water” that hit home with the audience. Be sure to give Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils some love the next time they are in your town. Head over to the gallery for more pictures of the band.
Every time I hear Captain Ivory, I come away smiling and impressed. I also come away slightly bewildered that this band isn’t a household name across the country. Pay attention folks! This band strikes the chords of original rock music while reaching back to the roots of blues, soul, and rock. The effect of their music resonates within and electrifies the air around the audience.
Captain Ivory bounced between cuts from their self-titled debut and their 2016 ‘No Vacancy’ album. Jayson Traver (guitar / vocals), Robbie Bolog (lead guitar), Brett Smith (bass), and Seth Maschari (drums) showcased the power and perfection of rock music with “Hello Love, Goodbye Fear”, “No Vacancy”, and “Never Mine”. The percussive powerhouse of Seth and Brett on “Never Mine” and the cover of “Stratus” by Billy Cobham was dazzling and invigorating.
Jayson’s vocals shined with stunning clarity on “Here You Are”. He also enchanted the crowd with a solo acoustic performance of a song he’d written for a wedding. Included in this acoustic reprieve was a mesmerizing rendition of “Cascades of Spain” from the ‘No Vacancy’ album. Captain Ivory expressed the delicate intricacies of this song and added a surprising element with their friend Aaron Apsey on viola.
Captain Ivory invited Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar up to the stage to deliver a no holds barred version of Dave Mason’s “Feeling Alright”. This was followed up by the swampy rocker “Six Minutes To Midnight”. While Robbie Bolog’s salty riffs and hot licks were a treat throughout the evening, it was the gleaming slide on this song that put the cherry on top.
With the audience calling for more, Captain Ivory were happy to oblige with the heavy hitting “Paper Towns”. The popping rhythms, percussive guitar, and enthralling vocals punctuated the band’s performance this evening. Captain Ivory is working on new material in preparation for a tour of Europe this spring. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a night of bewitching rock music when this band swings into your city. Be sure to stop into the gallery for more pictures of Captain Ivory.
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