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Letters from Round O

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Album Review

Some bands prefer to be totally self-contained; they do all of the writing, producing, and playing themselves. And that can work well for them — if they know what they're doing, being self-contained can also mean being cohesive and focused. But other bands prefer to get as much outside help as possible, which can also be a good thing. Using different players on different albums has worked well for the Blue Dogs, who thrive on the input and insights that they get from their extended family of musicians. On their sixth album, Letters From Round O, three core members of the band — lead singer Bobby Houck, bassist Hank Futch, and guitarist David Stewart — are joined by noteworthy allies who include Rickie Simpkins on fiddle, Doug Wanamaker on keyboards and organ, and Phillip Lammonds on guitar, mandolin, and background vocals. These guests and Cracker's David Lowery (who produced the album) all do their part to make Letters From Round O as successful as it is. The writing is consistently strong, and anyone who has a taste for roots rock and Southern rock should have no problem getting into gritty tracks like "Carry Your Heart," "Sister," and the bluesy "Pay the Man." A variety of influences assert themselves on this album — everyone from the Wallflowers to Little Feat to John Cougar Mellencamp — and the Blue Dogs use those influences to their creative advantage. The material on this album is derivative, but it is also warm, heartfelt, and very likable. The Blue Dogs' last studio effort of the '90s is an album that they can easily be proud of.


Formed: 1987 in Charleston, SC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Not to be confused with the avant-garde jazz combo Blue Dog or the alternative rock outfit Blue Dog Pict, the Blue Dogs are an earthy, down-home roots rock/country-rock/Southern rock band from South Carolina. The twangy, very Southern-sounding Blue Dogs were formed in Charleston, SC, in 1987 by lead singer/guitarist Bobby Houck and bassist Hank Futch, who had known each other since childhood and played together in college. Drummer Greg Walker came along later, joining the band in 1993. At first,...
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Letters from Round O, Blue Dogs
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