A cavalcade of blues women - Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, and Sister Rosetta Tharp - ruled the early days of radio and the record business while barnstorming across the country as band leaders performing their own material and popular favorites. Molding herself in their image Baltimore chanteuse Gayle Weaver Harrod fronted several bands for over a decade before bringing together some of the best musical talent in the Mid-Atlantic blues scene to form The Gayle Harrod Band.
In the summer of 2022, along with her co writers and band mates, guitarist Stan Turk, and drummer Chuck Ferrell, Harrod recorded her debut album Temptation, at 38 North Studios, with producer, Buddy Speir, and engineer, Sean Russell. Guest performers include guitarists Jonathan Sloane, Sol Roots, and Bobby Thompson; bassist Christopher Brown; and Brian Simms on piano and organ. Producer Buddy Speir contributes guitar, slide, organ, and Wurlitzer. The all-star background vocals are courtesy of Mary Ann Redmond, Dusty Rose, and The Voices of Faith of the First Baptist Church of Baltimore Choir. Also featured is Rachelle Danto on harmonica and The Beltway Horns: Greg Boyer on trombone, Brad Clements on trumpet, and Brent Birckhead on tenor sax.
The rollicking “Sweet Memphis Man” and its snappy dance hall beat opens the set, and if you have ever spent a night on Beale Street, you’ll know just what Harrod is talking about. The full ensemble shines on the powerful call to arms “Come On People,” with Harrod urging us all to “treat each other like sisters and brothers.” The bump and grind blues, “Baby We’re Through,” finds her scornful vocals backed up by a bevy of gritty guitars and heavy drums. Harrod takes us to the mojo triangle for the classic tale of the struggle between angels and devils for the title track “Temptation.” The tale of a clandestine love affair, “In The Deep Dark Night,” swings with second line flair, and the horns pop and B3 organ soars as Harrod takes us to church on the lively gospel-infused two beat “Bring Me Along.”
You can almost hear the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking in the distance on the bittersweet acoustic back porch Delta Blues “Waiting In The Shadows.” The anthem of self-determination, “Break,” has a 60’s girl group vibe that contrasts with its heady subtext. Harrod takes a stand on the driving rocker, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” and gets sentimental on the tender Americana ballad, “The In Between,” that features fine slide guitar work. Harrod takes us on a philosophical and musical journey during the complex epic “God Laughed,” then closes the album with heartfelt advice to a lost loved one on the spacious ballad “Beautiful Friend.”