Cheryl Arena
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Cheryl Arena

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The best kept secret in music


"Boston Blues Society"

Cheryl Arena
Blues Got Me

The music world should be very happy that the blues got Cheryl.
Her harp has been on the Boston blues scene for years.
If you dig out your old Kat in the Hat recordings from 1996
and follow her blows and draws through the Woodburn/Arena band days and
her most recent band gigs, it is obvious she's paid her necessary
woodsheddin' dues. Though she and her husband, guitar ace Matt Woodburn
are Boston's own, I've found them through the years touring in Florida
and on Beale St. in Memphis. In fact on one such occasion, Cheryl
excitedly told me in the Black Diamond she was off to Junior's Juke
Joint in Holly Springs, MS. to play. Proof she let the blues take her on
the road to the right places. And, it shows. The CD opens with one of
the strongest songs I've heard so far in this Year of the Blues. The
gentle swing of the acoustic guitar and harmonica compliment the winter
wishes of every New Englander, to go South. But when the electricity
kicks in, Arena wants her trip South to be for the blues life. Her
personal photo album offers pics of catfish, cotton, Beale and jukes.
Thanks for reminding us why we love those who love the blues and
understand it's a Southern essence. This is no one song recording.
Through the 13 songs, recorded in Duke Robillard's Mood Room
and produced by Duke, Arena displays expertise in all areas,
song writing, singing, harp playing, and song choice.
The title cut is a gritty display. As Duke underlines the song
wiht a Howlin' Wolf style guitar voice, Arena confesses the hold blues
got on her. Robert Johnson sang about blues "is a low down, shakin'
chill". Arena sings that blues " found me in the dark....came round and
fixed my broken heart." This alone may exemplify the change in
perception of the blues over the years. Vocally, Cheryl is no Susan
Tedeschi or Shemekia, and thankfully, she doesn't try to be. Instead,
her vocal style relies on staying within her range and letting her
individualistic nuances deliver the lesson. " Love Gone Wrong," a Jimmie
Vaughan styled Texas R&B offering, lets Arena voice heartbreak through
her voice and harmonica while Woodburn tears up the fretboard. Arena's
versatility as a singer/songwriter is evident on her second line beat on
"Listen To What I Say" and her big band jazz take on two from the Buddy
Johnson songbook, " Any Day Now" and "About To Break My Heart".
Both bring in some of Boston's finest brass, Sax Beadle, Scott Shetler, and
Scott Aruda. After years of ridin' to places and absorbin' the blues,
Cheryl Arena's blues have got me good.

-Art Tripaldi

- Art Tripaldi

"Blues Matters Magazine"

USA – CHERYL ARENA “Blues Got Me”, No label/no. 13 tracks, 49:50 mins.
As a reader of BM you will know Boston is one of the Blues hotbeds, you may well be aware it is the stomping ground of one of if not the best female harpists, Annie Raines – now add CHERYL ARENA! Like Little Annie, Cheryl is no one trick pony with country to swing styles in a great tone & delivery. The gal sings real good too, and though the disc is credited to Cheryl only they usually go by the names of herself, and guitarist Matt Woodburn (Woodburn-Arena band). Their CD is a mix of vaudeville blues, West Coast blues, Texas swing, country, lounge jazz, boogie swing and 50’s pop. The overall feel you get is – a band with a difference, Cheryl and the boys are no wallpaper band. Let’s spin the disc, and listen up! First comes a romantic yearning for the bluesy South in a country way, lovely melody and Duke Robillard the albums producer on Dobro. Cheryl then goes from acoustic to bullet harp, and her co-bandleader Matt Woodburn starts to show his chops. Then we are transported back to the Charleston period for a real bouncy and remarkably un-smutty shavin’ song. The albums horns kick in (well it is a Robillard/Mood Room recording) with the great Gordon beadle amongst the cheek bulges. This band has your body moving in an unconscious luring. The title track is a dirty Hooker-ish easy rockin’ tune, where the smashing groove is punctuated with lovely leads by Robillard & Arena. Apart from the seven tracks Cheryl has a hand in two lovely Little Walter covers sit in with four other uncommon re-runs. This album comes without promotional fanfares, and decent distribution, but that’s part of what makes a Blues gem….Billy Hutchinson
Blues Matters Magazine UK

- Billy Hutchinson


Blues Got Me
13 songs
7 originals penned by Cheryl
produced by Duke Robillard


Feeling a bit camera shy


Live is the ticket for the Cheryl Arena band. Her energetic performance matched with her prowess on the harmonica and vocals will literally BLOW YOU AWAY!
Always surrounding herself with the best musicians in the business you can be sure to be in for an unforgettable experience whenever you catch one of Cheryl's shows.
Her most recent cd "BLUES GOT ME" features Duke Robillard on guitar and was also produced and recorded at Duke's studio in Rhode Island.
Hailing from Boston Massachusetts Cheryl honed her skills on harmonica in the driver's seat of a big black limousine. "It was the best job I ever had..I got paid to practice my instrument".
Traveling extensively around the country has afforded Cheryl the opportunity to to open for and play with several blues legends.
Cheryl has recently relocated to Dallas Texas.
For more information check out her website at