May 21, 2004

The Winchester Star


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The Winchester Star, Winchester, VA

May 21, 2004Counselor, Blues Singer Returns to Winchester

Blues singer Deb Callahan is scheduled to return to Sweet Caroline’s today. With a throaty voice, Callahan, 38, sings about love, life and the desolation of dysfunctional relationships. From a very early age, she felt drawn to the intensity of blues and gospel music. “Probably one of my earliest influences was Nina Simone,” Callahan said. “My mom would play her a lot. For me, I heard the voice before the instruments. For me it was the whole vibe. I got drawn into the stuff that had a lot of emotional pain and passion and joy.” In part, her music draws on years of counseling victims of sexual assault as a social worker in Philadelphia, she said. She first played Sweet Caroline’s in January. “I loved the club,” she said. “I had a good time when I was there.”

“She’s like a more bluesy Melissa Etheridge, kind of edgy, borders on rock a little bit,” said Sweet Caroline’s owner Terry Hudson. She will sing songs from her first album “If the Blues had Wings,” as well as blues standards and covers. She wrote or co-wrote almost all the songs on the album. Callahan also has covered Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” “I think it was a song that came out that kind of changed the way people looked at the way a song can be written – like it’s talking to another person,” she said.

That mode saturates “If Your Man Messes Up,” a play on a pickup line taken to extremes, written by Callahan and vocalist Walter Runge. Callahan was born and raised near Boston, Mass. to middle class, progressive parents, she said. She participated in musical theater and choirs during college, where she finally settled on blues, singing in a blues/rock band, Callahan said. “That’s just what moves me.” Callahan goes on stage at 9:3 p.m. Cost is $5. For information, call 723-8805 or visit

-By Karl B. Hillie

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