Old School is Cool - Blue Zen Band with Christian Coleman


In the book it is written, that the Southerners begat Blues, that Blues begat Rock n' Roll, that Rock n' Roll begat Cool. Where does this leave us?

A great many perversions hath befallen Rock n' Roll - slowly severing its age-old ties to the eternal wealth-spring of Cool. But, out in the world are still the energetic upholders of old-school, bluesy Rock; Christian Coleman and the Blue Zen Band (@keeponbluezen) numbering among them.

Offered a glimpse into their world of musical creation, I was pleasantly surprised by a titillating rendition of "My Favorite Things" and, thus, prompted to delve further into their repertoire.

Here, I bring you readers my findings; returned, as it were, from my pilgrimage to the long-forgotten spring of cool. Enlightened in my state of zen, I hope to impart my newfound musical knowledge so that you too may prosper forevermore with this wonderful band in the halls of Cooldom.

4th Street Boogie

Smokin! With an immediate jump into a satisfying groove a-la John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom Boom," this spectacular boogie session is off to a running start.

Nice playful dynamics between drums and guitar with an especially satisfying dosage of howling harmonica runs for good measure. Overall, this is a lively experience.

The Wind Cries Mary

Mellow and authentic.

Hints of Dylan in the vocals hearken back to a time when live shows were consistently better than radio. In fact, this track feels live enough to breathe, by way of its dynamic, nearly improvisational feel.

Poetic, powerful yet peaceful, restrained; I could eat up a dictionary trying to describe it.

21st Century Man

Are we on a riverboat? It wouldn't surprise me given the subtle simplicity this track emanates.

Sparsely interspersed guitar and harmonica licks line this track with just enough sweetness to satisfy. Iced tea on the riverbank.

Meandering lazily under sprawling trees with nothing to do, nowhere to go. Ain't life grand?

Baby I Love You

Strong blues vibes in this one.

Cool, collected, but not indulgent, this track is everything a blues fan can't get enough of. It's raw and punchy, but retains the soothing qualities of a standard downtempo track - working its way deep into your bones.

The vocals feel more present here; more personal.

Cissy Strut

Classic organ follows an enthusiastic vocal intro - lending a sound not unlike something Bob Marley's band might have put together.

Building on itself, this song unfolds as a classic jam session with a true vintage feel.

Similar to The Raconteurs' "Bane Rendition," but more verbose and intricate.

Nobody But You

Subtle phase effects elevate this track's chill guitar strumming to a new dimension.

Heartfelt and bare-bones in its approach, this song takes no detours on its way to the heart. Its slow, plodding bassline screams "Black Velvet," but this is no derivative. Its got a groove all its own; much less hard-hitting and vastly more laid-back.

My Favorite Things

What a cover!

Psychadelic guitar twang, impressively improvised, quickly sets the stage for an exciting rendition of a timeless classic.

A deluge of solos lead, like wobbling stepping stones, through an unrelenting buildup to this song's well-known, characteristic chorus.

Teetering on the thrilling edge of musical mayhem, this song provides exceptional intrigue through keyboard texturing and tasteful rhythmic inconsistencies.

Blues Is Green

Another mellow tune to lounge about to. This is what it sounds like to stretch your legs into the water on a Summer's day.

Zeal sans any particular aim; this song is cool as a westward breeze, with clever guitar work tossed in like so much cajun spice - completing the dish and nipping at the senses.

Rollin' Stone

A testament to the power of raw emotion, this song brings us within hearing distance of a man who, ravaged by circumstance, howls his musings at the moon.

Classic blues vibes pervade, from delivery to subject matter. Very cool.

You Never Knew

At its start, this song brought to mind Derek Trucks's Band's "Down in the Flood," though that changed abruptly when the sound shifted to lively, electric bluegrass.

Growling vocals accentuated by harmonica-borne chords keep us in step throughout the song.

So What

The intro sounds jazzy. Would this qualify as muzak? The bassline and keyboard notes are punctuated, brought to the forefront to trot along with verbose guitar.

The keys seize the spotlight; settle into a bright improvised verse that runs like water over the unwavering bass. Thanks to the drums, this feels like swing.

Guitar and keyboard duel beautifully - trading tones in turn as they race to a leisurely ending.

The Real Me

Put me on a Harley. Sit me in a roadhouse. Put a busted bottle of Bud in my hand and a black leather vest on my shoulders. As long as this song is playing, I assure you, I won't be out of place.

Real feeling, dipped in the essence of bluesy Rock n' Roll. That's what this song is.

I'd like to thank Christian and the Blue Zen Band (@keeponbluezen) for sending their music my way. I hope you readers will check out their site and support their efforts to keep the essence of Blues and genuine Rock n' Roll alive. Odd Forever!


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