Donovan Roberts
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Donovan Roberts

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Donovan Roberts give their acoustic blues more life than most such projects, avoiding by-the-numbers traditionalism while maintaining deep blues feeling. Are You Alone (Shelloy Sounds) crackles with energy even on such oft-recorded songs as “Big Road Blues,” displays inventiveness in a country blues arrangement of Percy Mayfield’s “River’s Invitation,” and enriches the canon with Jeff Roberts’ lovely, jazzy “Wonderin’ About You.” Roberts’guitar is augmented by occasional piano, harmonica, and mandolin, and Lori Donovan's smooth, sultry vocals are simply perfect. Bold moves like the bossa nova “What You Need From Me” and a reworking of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” pay off neatly without interrupting the mood. - Blues Revue (Tom Hyslop)


"Americana" or "roots music" can be a vague description, but it represents an earlier time, when music was not segmented and players were inspired by many different ideas and influences.

"Are You Alone" reflects that freedom, mixing blues, jazz, folk and country in an all-acoustic setting. There are three originals by guitarists Jeff Roberts, including the title track, and the disc includes songs by Willie Dixon, singer/songwriter Les Sampou, pop songsmiths Joseph Meyer and frank Loesser, and even a cover tune of Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky."

Lori Donovan's vocals are clear and strong but unforced on the various styles she covers. Many of the tracks have a front-porch, old-timey feel enhanced by Mikey Junior's harmonica and Maria Woodford's mandolin.

Others have the same easy vibe but lean toward swing and jazz, backed by bassist Mitch Shelly and pianist Craig Kastelnik.

"Wasn't That Enough," on the other hand, is a despondent blues, while Roberts' "What You Need From Me" is reflective, smoky jazz. Roberts' originals are as good as the covers, and his skillful and varied guitar styles give a full sound on all 11 tracks.

If you like this CD, you won't be alone -- any acoustic music fan will go for it, and its upbeat feel should win over a lot of rock fans, too. - Dave Howell


Discography

Are You Alone (Shelloy Sounds) 2008

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Bio

When Jeff Roberts first met Lori Donovan he had just recently left a busy career working as a touring blues guitarist, having backed Lonnie Shields (Rooster), and playing lead for the Pennsylvania-based band, MadDog and Blues Night Out and his own Jeff Roberts Band, for over seven years. He was looking for a change.

Lori Donovan, a renaissance woman by every definition, was working as an executive for one of the East Coast’s largest music festivals, writing novels, singing with a local blues band (Sweet & Lowdown), and raising her two daughters. She was looking for a change.

They decided to join forces, slim down, and play their blues together – acoustically. Since that time, the duo has developed a set of songs that encompass the American roots music experience – with songs that range from their traditional blues to modern folk rock and jazz inspired originals.

In early 2008, they sat down and began plans to record their first feature CD “Are You Alone.” Within a few short months, they enlisted the help of musical friends like Mikey Jr. (www.mikeyjunior.com) on harp, Craig Kastelnik on piano, Nashville-session staple, Brian Ashley Jones, and the marvelous Maria Woodford (www.mariawoodford.com) on mandolin. With their help, the duo completed a CD that truly connects with the roots of American music.

The CD was released on July 18, 2008, but had seen critical success even before it’s unveiling. Independent filmmaker Zeke Zelker, was so taken by the songs that he requested three for his upcoming feature film, “In Search Of”. The Donovan Roberts tunes – “Are You Alone,” “Wonderin’ About You” and “What You Need From Me” will be included in the film when it appears at International film festivals this year.

In addition to their recording in 2008, Donovan Roberts were also honored as semi-finalists in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN – where they competed against the best blues solo and duo performers from around the world. Jeff and Lori will be returning to Memphis in 2009 to represent the Lehigh Valley Blues Network for the second year in a row.

Highlight performances for the duo include shows at Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), Briggs Farm Blues Festival (Nescopeck, PA), Newtonfest (Newton, NC), The Sellersville Theater (Sellersville, PA), Mayfair (Allentown, PA) and venues across the US Southeast, from New Englad to the gulf coast.