|Montgomery News – Montgomery County, PA
November 3, 2004
“If The Blues Had Wings,” It would sound like Deb Callahan soaring in to the Point for two shows this weekend
The sensuous, tantalizing performances of Deb Callahan are becoming known far and wide. I have been contacted by radio stations in Europe and somebody from Australia,” comments the red-haired enchantress of modern roots music. “I like the mix of blues, soul and gospel,” she relates while preparing for her November 5 date at The Point in Bryn Mawr. She will perform twice that night at 7pm and 10pm
Although the Point is a BYOB, all ages venue, Callahan will stand out because of her mature animal energy and sultry sophistication. Compared to the typical girlish songwriters that have invaded indie music of late, she breezes in like a welcome change.
Callahan has an interesting credibility in the world of blue eyed soul. “I have African American siblings through adoption”. My mother had books on Malcom X and I saw films on slavery. My brother and I went to the Elma Lewis School to study black cultural arts. Every year we attended the Christmas gospel concert there. I was taking piano lessons at the time as well. Boston at that time did have racial tensions.
She moved to Philadelphia to complete her education, getting her master’s in social work and studying painting, which she continued doing while visiting India. Callahan still works part time at women’s shelters.
Musically she played in her first band at the age of 19. “It was a lot of British Blues and Hendrix. One thing the British taught us was to appreciate the blues and not take it for granted.” Callahan relates. She has since picked up the guitar but plays little in live situations. “I come up with lyrics, maybe a groove on the guitar but my musicians are really great so they play.” Callahan is thinking of playing acoustic guitar on Dylan and John Prine covers that she sometimes includes with her own songs. But it is her embodiment of the music that capture’s ones attention. “It is a little like being an athlete, she explains, “I have to eat right, get enough sleep, exercise and I don’t drink hardly at all. The music is physical.” Blues Revue Magazine compares Callahan to Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin and Etta James. Callahan admits, “It is a flattering group to be compared to and they gave me a hot review.”
But according to Callahan, “rhythm and blues is about participation, the audience singing along, call and response.” Callahan explains the blues mood further when she states, “You gain confidence in yourself and the mood becomes authentic. It is about pain, suffering, loss, rebirth, sexuality and power. There is a boldness, joy, playfulness and double entendre.” Callahan concedes that the music is a kind of therapy for her after helping so many others through social work. Often, she needs time to get away and be present with herself with special things in a special place. At other times, she is able to write songs on trains or in coffee shops. She balances work, practice, creative time, touring and music business aspects.
Her debut CD, “If The Blues Had Wings” is the “Hot Debut in the latest issue of Blues Revue Magazine. With co-writer Walter Runge and co-producer John Dichter, The Deb Callahan Band seems poised for an even stronger second album and more national attention. – David Wannop