by Kevin Callan
The Deb Callahan Band will perform at the Pastorius Park Concert Series at7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 9.
With a new album expected to appear later this year, the singer-songwriter Deb Callahan uses her soulful voice, bluesy guitar riffs and honky-tonk back beats to make for an incredibly original sound described by many as soulful blues. She grew up in Boston, but has been associated with the mid-Atlantic music scene since the late 90s and has performed at more than 50 different venues since 2005.
Callahan’s debut album, “If The Blues Had Wings,” released in 2002, features 11 original songs, a few short songs written by blues legends Memphis Minnie, Victoria Spivey and Edith Johnson, as well as a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” The album mixes delta blues, funky New Orleans rhythms and Gospel-influenced rock for the signature soulful blues sound Callahan incorporates in most of her music.
“Grit and Grace,” arguably Callahan’s most prestigious album, was released in 2008. Produced by Philadelphia’s Chris Arms, the album experimented with the sounds and energy of live performance. It consists mostly of original tracks, with a cover of Ray Charles’s “Hallelujah I Love Him” and a few short vocal tributes to Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin.
Other members of the band are Allen James, Tom Walling and Gary Lee. Guitarist Allen James has played with the likes of Philadelphia-associated artists Bo Diddley and The Flamingos, and he won Philadelphia’s Street Beat WMMR award for best guitarist in 1990 while playing with the band Junior League.
Drummer and vocalist Tom Walling won the Paul D. Patterson Award in 1995 for Outstanding Percussionist as well as the Music Educators National Conference Award in 1996 for Excellence in Teaching. Bassist and vocalist Gary Lee has a long history of playing with Allen James and was nominated by the WMMR-sponsored Street Beat Music Awards as Player of the Year for his work with The Daves.
The Pastorius Park concert series is produced every year by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and is sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Fund and Chestnut Hill Hospital. If it rains, the concert will be moved to the Lower School Auditorium of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Cherokee Campus. Be sure to check chestnuthill.org, where notice of a rain move will be posted after 6 p.m. the day of the concert.