Debra Devi
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Debra Devi

Jersey City, NJ | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Jersey City, NJ | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
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"Why it's important for 'Wild Little Girl' to 'rock out like the boys'"

Jersey City's Debra Devi stands out among singer/songwriters as a true triple threat: a gifted songwriter, a powerful singer and an outstanding guitarist.

Devi displays the full range of her talents on her new self-released EP, "Wild Little Girl," which she'll release at Maxwell's Tavern in Hoboken on Friday, Sept. 8.

Fans who and say "Devi" at the door will get a free copy of the EP and a commemorative guitar pick. They'll also get to see a special "guest star" -- Devi will play the last song in her set through the Baby Bluesbreaker amplifier that belonged to Chicago blues legend Hubert Sumlin, whom Devi met while writing her book "The Language of the Blues."

Firmly grounded in the blues/rock tradition, "Wild Little Girl" mixes wistfulness with forcefulness. Devi comes across as sassy and defiant on "Shake It," wistful and meditative on "Butterly." She wanders into modern country on "Tired of Waiting" and comes across as broken-hearted but hopeful on "Stay."

Every track leaves room for organic, expansive guitar solos.

Thousands expected at Inked Out Tattoo Convention in Secaucus
Thousands expected at Inked Out Tattoo Convention in Secaucus

The annual Inked Out Tattoo Convention is returning to Secaucus this weekend.


Devi produced "Wild Little Girl" herself, as she did her 2016 album, "Get Free."

"For this project, I recorded a lot of the guitars at SST Studios in Weehawken," Devi said. "It's a comfortable place for me to work because my brother works there as the drum tech."

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The drums and vocals were recorded at a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and overdubs were added at Max Feinstein's Silverhorse Studio in Hoboken.

"Silverhorse is also where I rehearse, so that's a great place for us to do guitar overdubs since I'm so familiar with the sound there," she added. "And then I did the mixing with engineer Wayne Dorrell (formerly the owner of Hoboken's Pigeon Club studios), with whom I've worked before. He mixed my album, too. I'm just really lucky that I'm able to work with all these very talented people right here in the area."

The process can be grueling, she said.

"When you make a record, by the time you're done recording it and mixing it and agonizing over it for months, you really have no idea if it's any good or not," Devi said. "You really just get sick of it. But I have to say that I am really happy with. Guitar was my first love, and I started playing in punk bands. Then I started writing collaboratively a little bit in some of the bands I was in, and then finally I worked up the courage to start writing songs myself. So, I really think of myself as a guitarist first. When I started my solo career, I really hadn't sung that much except for harmonies in other bands so it was fun to discover the kind of voice I had and learning how to write songs that were right for me to sing and to find the guitar sounds that work with my voice. It's just been a process of self-education."


But Devi didn't grow up playing the guitar.

"I always loved the sound of the electric guitar, but when I was a little girl, my mother wouldn't let me play it," Devi said. "When I was about 7 years old, I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Suzy Q' and the feedback on the song just freaked me out. It kind of scared me and fascinated me at the same time. When I was about 15, I finally got up the nerve to ask my mother for an electric guitar and she was mortified. She didn't think it was ladylike, and when I told her she was being sexist, she just put her foot down and said it would be too loud.

"Well, a year later my brother started playing the drums. He had a drum set in the basement, and then he had one in his bedroom. And I got the message very clearly: It was OK for a boy to be loud, but not OK for a girl."

Devi finally wangled an acoustic guitar out of her parents, but she didn't start playing electric guitar until her senior year of college.

"That's when I saw Bonnie Raitt for the first time, who was such an important role model for me," Devi said. "She was just slinging this incredible Strat around and it just unleashed something in me. The next day I bought an old Fender Mustang at a pawn shop and just started to teach myself how to play.

Jimmy John's brings 'freaky fast' sandwiches to Downtown Jersey City
Jimmy John's brings 'freaky fast' sandwiches to Downtown Jersey City

Jimmy John's, popularly known for its "freaky fast" sandwiches, opened its first Jersey City location on Tuesday.


"Today there are a lot of great female players, but I still think that women need some kind of permission to rock out like the boys, and maybe if they get to see me on stage, it will let them know it's all right to be a woman and play loud and have fun on stage," Devi said. "That's why I called the EP 'Wild Little Girl,' because I wanted to capture that sense of cutting loose. I wanted to let girls know that the wildness and the freedom they feel before society starts to pressure them to conform is OK, and in fact it's something very important not to destroy."

Devi makes it a practice to attend the open mic at Maxwell's Tavern whenever she can, and she met a young woman there whom she's now mentoring and helping to find the courage to get on stage.

"That's really touching," Devi said. "It's so nice when people look up to you and you can share a little bit of what you've learned with them and help them along their way." - The Jersey Journal


"Concert Review - Hardrock Haven Magazine"

Tonight’s show at Arlene’s Grocery was an intimate affair, which is always a bonus when you come to see a guitar-intensive band. After all, it’s not every day that you get to watch a great player up close and personal. And Devi — apart from being a charming singer — also brandishes some top-notch guitar chops. Metal Hammer’s description of Devi’s style as reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix didn’t exaggerate — it emphasized how skillfully she deploys the heritage to create her own identity.

The band references the ‘60s, early ‘70s with an understated retro vibe, but instead of sounding dated, its sound comes across as timeless. Keyboardist Peter Vitalone stepped in this time instead of the regular Devi keyboardist Rob Clores, and he effortlessly floated Devi’s sharp-edged guitar parts, bathing the songs in a softly diffused glow.

Laconic in her treatment of intimate subjects, Devi knows that simplicity works best when tackling heartbreak. “Ten Miles to Clarksdale” became one of those downcast gems this evening — a story of connecting with a kindred spirit, hopes dashed and the tension of silent longing.

But poignant balladry is just one layer of this band’s character. When Devi goes on an all-out guitar rampage, her flawless improv continues to be fluid and unpredictable. She also knows how to lift a song beyond its structure into the territory of pure invention — inspired and expansive.

This is how tonight’s standout “Demon in the Sack” — an instantly memorable raucous ear-worm — connected raunchy, far-flung soloing with hooky songwriting. Add to this the fact that Devi looked the part of a bonafide rock goddess — svelte and graceful in her tight-fitting dress — and you have a perfect act capable of transcending generation lines.

The rest of the band looks the part, too — drummer John Hummel not only supports the proceedings with resolute self-assurance, but he also looks every bit a rock star. And bassist Max Feinstein fulfills the double duty of backing Devi’s voice and playing lines that keep the songs jumping, not to mention his affable stage presence.

The final highlight of the set, “When It Comes Down,” turned into a perfect closer. A vividly dramatic solo stretched the soundscape of the song to the verge of psychedelia, with Devi raising her chops game to the max. The band’s organic feel for Classic Rock, its erudite elegance and knowing how to turn straightforward ideas into mini-miracles, makes Devi a brilliant live act and a real asset to the East Coast Rock scene. - Hardrock Haven


"A Fiery New Album From Guitarslinger Debra Devi"

Debra Devi is the rare rock guitarist who’s as much about purpose as pyrotechnics. It’s amazing how she uses as many notes as she does, yet she doesn’t overplay. She can fire off a blistering, wildly psychedelic solo with the best of them, but she also uses every shade and color in her pedalboard. Late-period, sober Stevie Ray Vaughan is a point of comparison esthetically if not stylistically. Devi may be a disciple of the blues (she wrote a very popular book on the subject), but she doesn’t limit herself to the style. She’s got a show coming up this Dec 11 at 7at Berlin with her power trio; cover is $10.

Her new ep, Wild Little Girl is streaming at her webpage. The opening anthem, Butterfly, sways along on a steady 6/8 groove, awash in guitar multitracks and Rob Clores’ sweeping keys. Devi’s aching slide solo is tantalizing and over too soon.

She ranges from southern-fried slide to searing red-sunset David Gilmour lines over drummer John Hummel’s serpentine metrics and Clores’ swooshy organ in Shake It. Likewise, Tired of Waiting (an original, not the Kinks classic) shifts meters unpredictably while Devi builds from ethereality to crunch and then a deliciously expansive solo, again playing with a slide.

Another slow 6/8 ballad, 10 Miles to Clarksdale has unexpected country flavor. Stay begins on a moody note and rises through funk toward stadium-rock heft. The album’s strongest track is a live take of Tired of Waiting, which really shows what Devi can do with her searing vocal wail and her fast fingers.: it’s the best possible advertising for her live show. - New York Music Daily


"Concert Review - JamBase"

Frontwoman Debra Devi is one of the few guitarists alive who can actually pull off a long, expressive solo without sounding ridiculously self-indulgent. A master of touch, tone and shading, she's a supersonic fret-burner with a deep feel for the blues who also writes hauntingly memorable songs. Clores turned her post-9/11 ballad "Welcome to the Boneyard" into an absolutely wrenching affair with a watery, otherworldly setting that gave Debra a chance to let the plaintive anguish of her vocals carry the song. The longing and ache in her voice, soaring way up into her upper register at the end of the song, was literally chilling, as the rhythm section slowly pulsed their way to the end. - JamBase


"Concert Review - New York Music Daily"

Psychedelic rock power trio Devi played Bowery Electric a couple of nights ago. The band sets frontwoman Debra Devi’s casually alluring vocals and suspensefully crescendoing guitar solos over Dan Grennes’ sinewy, melodic bass and John Hummel’s artsy, eclectically ornate, hard-hitting drums (more about those in a bit); Brian Hudzik guested on Rhodes early in the show as well. The set included a handful of new songs – the catchy Butterfly, the explosive Riot Love Song and the downright sexy, Led Zep-fueled, riff-rocking Tired of Waiting – along with several powerpop crowd-pleasers. The second song, Another Day had a familiar, singalong feel, particularly as the chorus kicked in, a formula that reached critical mass on the wickedly anthemic Howl at the Moon. But this band’s songs go a lot further than just catchy verses building to a payoff on the chorus: the title track to their album Get Free had a slow, elegaic quality, as did the album’s best song, the absolutely haunting Welcome to the Boneyard, with its layers of jangly, watery guitar and its sad, resigned lyric told from the point of view of a ghost in the rubble at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11. C21H23NO3 gave the band a crescendoing springboard for wild, unhinged soloing and an unpredictable, practically hardcore doublespeed interlude, while the pensive, moody When It Comes Down was a showstopper, its centerpiece being a long guitar solo that moved from suspensefully sustained, to spiraling and bluesy, back and forth, alternately mystical and exhilarating.... - New York Music Daily


"CD review - Guitar International"

It isn’t often that I come across an album that’s so good I have to listen to it multiple times in a row. When I sat down to check out Devi’s album Get Free I found myself doing just that. Every time the record finished I started it over, eventually just setting iTunes to “repeat all” to save me the hassle.

After about the fifth time through the album I found myself left with only one question, “How in the world have I never heard of this band before?” - Guitar International


"GET FREE Makes "1000 Best Albums of All Time" List"

GET FREE is a feast of good guitar and solid tunesmithing. But Debra, the band’s frontwoman, doesn’t let her virtuoso chops clutter the songs: instead, she goes for intricate layers and textures, with the occasional long, exhilarating, blues-infused solo. - Lucid Culture


"CD review - Lucid Culture"

The debut CD by this Hoboken NJ power trio is a throwback to the 80s when the major labels were still signing good bands. This album has pretty much everything a band ought to deliver: catchy, melodic songs, gorgeously soaring vocals from Debra their frontwoman/guitarist, killer musicianship and a centerpiece that’s a genuine classic. But first and foremost this is a feast of good guitar: incisive, wickedly smart solos, contrasting textures, and dynamic shifts that run the gamut from slyly amusing to harrowingly beautiful. While the rhythm section clearly has a fondness for prog-rock, they keep things tight and terse

The CD kicks off with Another Day, replete with Runaways-style bad-girl sensuality. The second cut, When it Comes Down, a concert favorite, starts pensive and apprehensive, slowly crescendoing to a long, thoughtful, bluesy solo reminiscent of Robin Trower when he was good way back in his Procol Harum years. It ends with a hook that sounds straight out of a Nektar art-rock suite, but is actually original to the song. In case you might assume that the cover of Runaway here is a throwaway, don’t – it’s got the one of the best solos on the CD. Howl at the Moon, which follows, has the feel of a hit single, its catchy minor-to-major melody spiced with tasteful acoustic slide guitar against washes of organ.

The next song, whose title is the chemical formula for heroin, builds from pensive to crunchy and metalish riff-rock capped by long solo that starts out thoughtful and takes its time getting ferocious before ending gentle and acoustic. By contrast, Demon in the Sack starts out fierce and hardcore before its riff-rock chorus, poking fun at gender stereotypes and sexual politics. The high point of the CD is Welcome to the Boneyard, a wrenchingly beautiful ballad sung from the point of view of a ghost whose body lies buried in the smoking pile of rubble at Ground Zero after 9/11, vocals soaring against gorgeously watery guitar chords.

The CD’s title track echoes the brooding feel of When It Comes Down, with strikingly textured acoustic and electric guitars. All That I Need is a showcase for sweet slide guitar plus some nifty electric piano to change up the mood a bit. Love That Lasts begins sad and bluesy with clarinet from jazz great Perry Robinson and finally turns into something like a reprieve for the band: forced to behave like purists for almost the entire duration of the album, there’s a long, relaxed blues/metal guitar solo and finally the drums go totally apeshit, John Bonham style. And then it ends with a neatly melodic Steve Harris-like hook from the bass. The CD closes with a richly guitarish cover of The Needle and the Damage Done, its long outro layered hypnotically with multiple guitar tracks, as captivating as what the Church did on The Maven.

This is a deceptively intelligent CD: as accessible as the melodies, the vocals and the songs are, at heart it’s a kick-ass rock CD that screams out for high volume and headphones. Although it promises to captivate just as many - Alan Young/Lucid Culture


"CD Review - Midwest Record"

A sense of humor, swagger, blistering guitar chops, looks, the smarts to fuse niche with mass market and a fertile, facile mind—doesn’t anybody with check writing capabilities at the major labels realize Deb is a freaking rock star that would pack them in old school style if you knew how to break records and acts anymore? If you knew how to recognize real talent? An utterly bad ass power trio that knows how to jam on much more than thunder thud, this stuff ought to be the new sound of the city, the new sound of the suburbs and has the snazz to be the first real rock break out in a long time. With chops fermented organically, betcha given half the chance this band breaks out ala Band of Gypsies. No shoe gazing, no whining, no moping, no dungeons and dragons, this is chick driven cock rock that sets pent up, raging hormones free. Check it out.

- Midwest Record


"CD Review - Marie Claire Italy"

They say rock is dead and it probably is true. This does not prevent a trio like the American Devi from playing rocknroll with a beautiful and heartfelt passion. - Marie Claire Italy


"CD Review - Rumore (Italy)"

The apex of a rock-blues triangle formed by Dan Grennes (bass) and John Hummel (drums), guitarist/vocalist Debra is the center of Devi—a band that rides the fine line between the American songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the strong pop-rock of the late ‘80s. Let's call it pure power pop.

Among the most beautiful things on this recording is not only a gorgeous cover of Neil Young “The Needle and the Damage Done” and some ballads full of blues (the melting “Get Free”), but also an extraordinary song called “Another Day” and a classic cover of the iconic ‘50s tune “Runaway,” with pulsing bass and vigorous guitar a la Cheap Trick.

Although, as my friend Luca points out, on some songs she really resembles Sheryl Crow (“All That I Need”), I don’t necessarily find this to be a bad thing. On the contrary, Debra really has talent. –Claudio Sorge
- Rumore


"Why it's important for 'Wild Little Girl' to 'rock out like the boys'"

Jersey City's Debra Devi stands out among singer/songwriters as a true triple threat: a gifted songwriter, a powerful singer and an outstanding guitarist.

Devi displays the full range of her talents on her new self-released EP, "Wild Little Girl," which she'll release at Maxwell's Tavern in Hoboken on Friday, Sept. 8.

Fans who and say "Devi" at the door will get a free copy of the EP and a commemorative guitar pick. They'll also get to see a special "guest star" -- Devi will play the last song in her set through the Baby Bluesbreaker amplifier that belonged to Chicago blues legend Hubert Sumlin, whom Devi met while writing her book "The Language of the Blues."

Firmly grounded in the blues/rock tradition, "Wild Little Girl" mixes wistfulness with forcefulness. Devi comes across as sassy and defiant on "Shake It," wistful and meditative on "Butterly." She wanders into modern country on "Tired of Waiting" and comes across as broken-hearted but hopeful on "Stay."

Every track leaves room for organic, expansive guitar solos. - The Jersey Journal


Discography

Wild Little Girl EP (True Nature Records) 

Get Free album (True Nature Records/Redeye USA)

Silent Night single (True Nature Records/Redeye USA)

Photos

Bio

Debra Devi is a blues-rock guitarist and singer/songwriter who blends pop, rock, jam and Americana into memorable songs flavored with her masterful guitar playing. 

Devi's upcoming EP, A Zillion Stars Overhead, includes Jorgen Carlsson (Gov't Mule) on bass and Rob Clores (Jesse Malin, Black Crowes) on keys. Recorded by John Agnello, mixed by Sylvia Massy, the EP will be released in spring 2020 on True Nature Records/DMM. 

Devi is the first female guitarist invited to endorse Homestead Amplifiers, which builds custom amps for Gov't Mule, Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmy Herring. She is also a Fender artist. 

“Devi references the ‘70s with an understated retro vibe,” notes Hardrock Haven, “but instead of sounding dated, her sound comes across as timeless.”

Devi is also the author of the popular blues glossary, The Language of the Blues (foreword by Dr. John) which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.  


"Debra Devi is a supersonic fret-burner who writes hauntingly memorable songs, blending the intricacy of a good jam band with the catchiness of vintage power pop.”  JamBase

"Debra Devi's compelling voice reminds us of Sheryl Crow but her guitar playing brings to mind the incomparable Jimi Hendrix."  Metal Hammer

FESTIVALS BOOKED INCLUDE

Black Potatoe Festival - Clifton NJ
Brews and Bands Festival - Rahway NJ     
Bridging the Blues Festival - Clarksdale MS   
Cape May Crab and Craft Beer Festival - Cape May NJ     
Chicks Who Rock Festival - Jersey City NJ     
Crown Guitar Festival - Bigfork MT     
Haverford Music Festival - Havertown PA
Hightstown Harvest Festival - Hightstown NJ   
Hudson LGBT Pride Festival - Jersey City NJ     
International Blues Competition - Memphis TN   
Just Jersey Festival - Stanhope NJ   
Lovelight Yoga & Music Festival - Darlington MD   
Port Imperial Music Festival - West New York NJ     
South by South Orange Festival - South Orange NJ 

Band Members