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CD Review: The Meldavians' Farewell Arigemon

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Don't be misled by the offbeat title. This regional release is a raucous, hard-rockin' window rattler. Greensboro's Dave Fox is best known as a classical and free-form jazz pianist. His day job is teaching classical music at Greensboro College. But for his latest endeavor, as his musical alter ego Dr. Drave, he's invented a land called Meldavia, where the natives are able to fly under their own power. Aided by fellow Meldavians Scott Sawyer on guitar and Melissa Reaves on vocals, he's ventured into low-down blues-rock territory as a score to accompany the book he's written on the adventures of the flying Meldavians.

Boone's Reaves is the centerpiece of this ensemble. The force of her muscular, in-your-face vocals pins you against the wall. "Turn Back the Hands of Time" sounds like it was ripped raw and bleeding from Janis Joplin's throat. Despite the lofty title, most of the material is nasty, funk-laced, bluesy rock. "On The Lawn" has a Funky Meters-inspired New Orleans second line feel. "Eleven Hundred Years" feels like Marsha Ball fronted by Teresa James. "You Better Never Mess Around" channels Shemekia Copeland for some low-down nasty blues punctuated by Scott Sawyers' Albert Collins impersonation. You get a taste of Fox's esoteric side on the "Burning Of Olistes' Palace," a dreamy slice of wah-wah pedal-infused electronica with handfuls of Fox's tinkly piano sprinkled over the top.

The only problem here is gonna be marketing. The current title makes it sound like a lofty jazz project or a prog rock piece of electronica. It'd be a tragedy if this stuff didn't get exposed to the blues audience. It's top-drawer blues worthy of a national audience, one of the best efforts to come out of these parts in a long time. Pick up a copy and help spread the word — these Meldavians really have figured out how to fly.

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