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Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Blues Rock




"T-Model Ford & GravelRoad at the Beachland Tavern, Cleveland, OH, 6.4.11"

Now This Sound Is Brave
Shouting Thomas Torment/T-Model Ford & GravelRoad at the Beachland Tavern, Cleveland, OH, 6.4.11

T-Model Ford & GravelRoad

One of my regrets from the Great Mississippi Sojourn I took last summer with co-blogger Jennifer and our friend Cam Rogers is that I didn’t spend an evening or two in a juke joint. Well, now I feel a little better because James “T-Model” Ford brought the juke to the Beachland. Aside from being about the right size and aesthetic for a Mississippi juke, the tavern also had about the right heat and humidity Saturday night. But it took T-Model to fill it with the right vibe and sound.

GravelRoad – this night being comprised of just guitarist Stefan Zillioux and drummer Martin Reinsel as bass player Jon “Kirby” Newman was under house arrest for undisclosed reasons – took the lead, playing a couple of their own numbers, showing why they make a great complement to Ford with their low, rough, electric blues-drag sound. Then Ford, who drew a crowd that covered a wide variety of ages and classes, took the stage, strapped on Black Mattie (his trusty Peavey guitar) and got hips to rolling in short order.

Best estimates place Ford’s age at 90, he has a pacemaker and has survived a stroke in recent years, but you’d hardly think it from watching him play. While a couple of his songs this night lasted less than 3 minutes, most of them ran well beyond the usual 5-minute mark, playing on the classic blues tradition of not letting a good groove go once you’ve got a hold of it. And groove is what it’s all about. Just fast enough to get your ass to swaying, but not too fast to keep your partner from holding on tight. This is why they call him the Tail/Tale Dragger. (And this is also probably part of why he calls himself the Ladies Man, because you can bet he was taking in as much of the body-grooving females in the audience as he could.)

While Ford was undeniably the star of the show, the support of GravelRoad should not be underestimated. Zillioux stayed tight in Ford’s wake through tunes like “I Love You, Baby”, “Hip Shakin’ Woman”, “Chickenhead Man” and “Train I Ride”, while Reinsel pummeled a tide of heavy beats that were more than a little responsible for the shaking of hips through the night. Not to mention, Reinsel looked like he was having the time of his life. - Now This Is Sound


Seattle is not known as a mecca for dirty alt-blues.
But it is known as a mecca for dirty, raw, music so it stands to reason that what ever comes out of the tarnished but spit-polished Emerald City (originator of the term Skid Row) would be as heavy, grimy, sexy, stoney, fat and frayed as your favorite drug rug or flannel, and containing a relationally strong amount of funque.

Seattle's GravelRoad have been going down on the deep blues for years. These dudes are damn-near Godfathers of the sound (whatever that is). They have their bonafides as good as tattooed on their hides and road-worn bones. You know any other band that has spent the last five + years touring with and wrangling the cipher boss of the blues, nonagenarian T-Model Ford? No. You don't.

Psychedelta is GravelRoad's third, newest and best far.
Their previous albums are good, each one a step forward from the last, but each searching for that special thing that would markedly set them apart. Psychedelta is that album. It's still GravelRoad with their T-Model-based boogie but his time they step around The Master to the dark side of a Mississippi harvest full moon...and invent Psychedelta.

Psychedelic sounds have been used in blues music before, with debatable results. Most notably by or on (depending on the storyteller) Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Others have played with it. Some say GravelRoad took what did work, mixed in textures from their own musical pallet, and greased it with some heavy '70s jam-like slide vibes. They fused it to T-Model's well-boogied carriage, then set it on fire and let it burn down to some nice orange and white coals. They used those coals to start a swamp-fire inside a no-name amp they found abandoned in a dank Seattle basement and used it to power Psychedelta.

As I said, these guys have been humping it cross-country for several years either backing T-Model Ford or going out alone. Often touring as a two-piece with guitarist Stefan Zillouxs and drummer Marty Reinsel with out their star bassist Kirby Newman. Marty toured solo a number of times as T-Model Ford's drummer, as well. I do not envy him. Beside the task of taking care of Mr. T, try and air-drum while listening to T-Model sometime! The hard work has paid off. Not only is the band burlier and tighter, their skills give the production a fat bump as well.

Psychedelta was produced by G.R. and mixed with Jim Diamond out of Detroit's Ghetto Recorders. Diamond has worked for a whoswho of early dirty punk-ass American music combos like The Dirtbombs, The Legendary Tigerman, Mooney Suzukis, and White Stripes. He worked closely with the band, bringing a out a deeper, heavier, and fatter sonic pallette and simply augmenting where they were headed in the first place, without detracting from where they'd been.

This is post-grunge psyche-punk blues played by Tejas/Fandango-era ZZ Top fans through the surround-sound speakers of T-Model Ford's plush-carpeted whitecloud Lincoln Continental Mark V as it drives north of Tacoma by way of Indianola. The porch-dog summer, the windows down, the smell of dirt in the air...reach down between my legs, ease the seat back...the monster eyes of cotton harvesters in the dusky dusty distance, the sun searing the thinnest thread of orange technicolor onto the great citys dark horizon. It's Psychedelta Time! ...and That's For Damn Sure! The new album is currently streaming at KnickKnack Records. Go HERE.

So what's new with GravelRoad now that Psychedelta is out? Guitarist Stefan Z tells me they have two new babies: Marty's family has a new one, and the band has a new single coming out on KnickKnack Records that was recorded under a full moon at Willie Nelson's studio in Pedernales, TX. They'll be doing the Deep Blues NW Fest this year, and are plotting a European tour for next summer. Meanwhile, they're working on the next album. I heard a rough mix of the new single and it's a two-headed trip. I'll let you know when it's ready. - Deep Blues Blog

"GravelRoad: Psychedelta"

“Since the release of their last album (2008’s Shot The Devil), this Seattle band has toured and recorded two albums with primal Mississippi blues artist T-Model Ford. Some of his raw energy might’ve rubbed off on them because they’re now back with their third and strongest album to date, a hard-driving set of raw, gritty blues-rock steeped in Mississippi hill country blues, featuring a variety of rocked-up deep, primal blues songs combining rumbling electric guitar riffs and some sweet slide along with hypnotic rhythms and husky vocals.” - KEXP - Don Yates Review

"Psychedelta - Album of the Year?"

2. GravelRoad – Psychedelta (Knick Knack)

I recently found myself nodding like a dashboard-mounted novelty dog as GravelRoad’s Stefan Zillioux attacked the “predictable twelve-bar” format of modern blues and its “fannypack-wearing” fanbase. Psychedelta feels like the antidote.

The Seattle trio have spent recent times supporting venerable Fat Possum nutcase T-Model Ford, and they’ve carried his spirit into this album, shaking up the perfect cocktail of deference and anarchy on cuts like Keep On Movin’, where they fuse the lyrics of a chain-gang chant to a dirty-fingernailed furball groove.

It’s an album you’d gladly pay for, but ironically, the band gave Classic Rock a link allowing our website visitors to stream it for free. Head to: - Classic Rock Magazine (UK)

"“The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin” by GravelRoad – a superb album by an outstanding band. Definitely worth one’s while."

Knick Knack Records, a small independent label out of Seattle, has recently seen blues rock trio GravelRoad’s new album “The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin” released on LP and CD. While GravelRoad isn’t the most well-known band in the blues scene, their musical worth was assessed by contemporary blues legend T-Model Ford and found of sufficient quality to act as his backing band for a time. Now, since the regrettable passing of T-Model Ford, GravelRoad have been strictly concerned with the writing and recording of their own material, and in that regard they have been tremendously successful.

“The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin,” GravelRoad’s fourth full-length album, is an exercise in raw, dirty blues rock, with big distorted riffs, solid low-end accompaniment, and heavy, driving rhythms. But there is another side to GravelRoad’s repertoire, one which consists of slightly cleaner slide guitar and drumbeats that are decidedly less grand but equally effective as a means to punctuate key points in the progressions. On top it all, there is Stefan Zillioux’s voice, deep, smoky vocals which further augment the sound structures built by the members’ collectively impressive musicianship, all coming together in great cohesive compositions. And this is evidenced in all ten songs on the GravelRoad album, from the blues rock of the first three tracks, to the more traditional-sounding songs toward the middle, and then a couple of measured and organic roots compositions to close it all out.

GravelRoad’s “The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin” is one of those rare albums from whose wholly exceptional songs it proves more than a little difficult to chose favorites. Still, if pressed to do so, I would most certainly chose slide guitar and handclaps and cleverly uneven vocal delivery of Maybe the Wind, the brief yet wild all-out rocker Med Pass!, the fevered Hill Country blues of Death Bed Blues, and the classic rock and country blues fusion of Bring Me Back.

“The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin” by GravelRoad – a superb album by an outstanding band. Definitely worth one’s while. - No Depression

"GravelRoad - The Bloody Scalp Of Burt Merlin"

On their latest release – The Bloody Scalp Of Burt Merlin (don’t be scared to touch the cover) – Seattle’s GravelRoad continues to do all the stuff they do so well while adding new textures and depth to the mix. Bloody Scalp finds drummer Martin Reinsel, guitarist/vocalist Stefan Zillioux, and doer-of-what-needs-doin’ Jon Kirby Newman (guitar, bass, drums, vox) offering ZZ Top-style grease and Jon Spencer-style gristle, boiled up in a battered #3 galvanized washtub full of Delta hoodoo and Hendrixian vapors.

Consider the opener “The Run”, which comes barrel-assing out of the speakers with a killer one-chord groove foundation that might’ve been something John Lee Hooker would’ve laid down while playing a roadhouse in Electric Ladyland. Rather than breaking the tension, the chorus change-ups serve to ratchet up the darkness – and the Bo Diddleyness of the final wind-up before the outro is fair warning: either shake your butt or get out of the way, cuz GravelRoad’s a’comin’.

“Cocaine Baby” combines blistering tattered-speaker geetar skwonk and a growled-out vocal with little bits of psychedelic seasonings (the jury’s still out on whether the laugh at the very end is reassuring or the album’s most frightening moment); somewhere Slim Harpo’s ghost is grinning and stomping his feet to “Death Bed Blues”; “Maybe The Wind” is saturated with fine slide guitar and multi-purpose groove; and “Monkey With A Wig” should be required listening when it comes to the art of getting as nasty as nasty gets in one minute and fifty-one seconds.

But wait – what do you call the high-speed romp of “Med Pass!” – punk blues? (Dig the locomotive bass of guest Joe Johnson, who also adds low-end womp to “Cocaine Baby”.) Or how about “Last Night’s Dream”, which blends GravelRoad’s natural raunch with a Canned Heat-flavored sweetness? (Talking about ghosts: Bob “The Bear” Hite would’ve loved these crazy bastards.) And what’s the deal with “Space”, a nearly-eight-minute epic that morphs visions of tumbleweeds blowing across post-apocalyptic prairies with pockets of churning, twisted, rusty metal? Try to slap a label on that and make it stick, my friend.

The key to it all may lie in the album closer, “Bring Me Back”: for all the darkness; for all the explosions of tie-dyed light; for all the extra planets, three-horned devils, gris-gris, black cat bones, and midnights at the crossroads that exist in GravelRoad’s world, they really are just three good ol’ boys who wanna play the blues. Guest buddy Paul Hutzler’s pedal steel brings a little bit of sweetness to “Bring Me Back”, while Zillioux’ and Newman’s guitars hang back with just enough teeth showing so you won’t forget their presence. The result might put you in mind of The Black Crowes at their rootsiest; the fact of the matter is, it’s simply GravelRoad being GravelRoad.

Which is a damn fine thang. -

""Shot the Devil" Review"


Shot The Devil

Uncle Larry's

Not too many Blues-rock bands would open a studio CD with an instrumental, no matter how raunchy and driving - but 'Fred #3' certainly merits those adjectives, and GravelRoad are no ordinary outfit. This Seattle based trio actually kill the devil on the title number, and not even Robert Johnson could claim that! Then there's another short instrumental, 'Hair Of The Dog', the title of which tips the listener to the fact this is the mutant offspring of Hound Dog Taylor, an influence on the raw, distorted, dirty and sometimes spooky guitar sound. The band's scratchy, mean, punky RL Burnside/Fred McDowell inspired sound is complemented on a few numbers by some forthright lyrics - no parental guidance warning, though there should be. The numbers are all originals, even the brooding, droning 'Taildragger', which is certainly not the Howlin’ Wolf song, and the CD closes with a successful remix - and I am no great fan of remixes. It is not all blood and thunder, though, as bandleader Stefan Zillioux's solo acoustic interlude 'Sammy' bears witness. This is Blues without the blinkers, but definitely with attitude.

Norman Darwen

- Blues Matters!

"GravelRoad Plays the Dirt Floor Basement Blues"


Imagine how you like yr blues. Do you like 'em traditional (whatever that is)? Creepy and slidin'? Sweet? Heavy? Tough and shiny? Weird and wiggy? Brilliant and stoney? That's how GravelRoad likes 'em too. Seattle's GravelRoad are deep blues fiends who have crawled through the vast black hole left by the deaths of Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, been absorbed into the razor light shining from the ancient beacon of Mr.Fred McDowell and have smelt the bleached burnt rubber black top left in the shadow of ZZ Top's last ride through and back to Greenville and in turn fashioned their own entity and identity out of Mississippi rain, dirty warehouses, downtown last calls, beer stank basements and Capitol Hill Country Hi-Rises. Songs, freakouts, grooves, stomps, humps, knuckle draggers and dirty remixes about bad women, worse men, brand new babies, and trouble. Plenty of trouble. How do I like my blues? GravelRoad Style. - Rick Saunders Deep Blues Blog

"Gravel Road - Gravel Road Album Review (UK: Winter 2005)"

GRAVEL ROAD: Gravel Road Independent Release. 9 tracks. First of all I need to say a big thank you to Joe Cushley and his Resonance show for turning me onto this skillfully brute offering, secondly to Fat Possum, and in particular the music of Junior Kimbrough, for inspiring an artist to release one of the most significant blues albums in a long time. This is one of those releases you just can’t stop listening to, from the opening ‘Baby I Love You’ to closer ‘Sad Days’ (aptly dedicated to Fat Possums Junior Kimbrough), the music comes straight ahead, drawing the listener in through the incessant guitar drawl, solid drums and interlacing saccharine guitar riffs. In an issue where the music of Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and George Thorogood served to showcase how out of focus the Blues can be, it’s reassuring to hear modern music in keeping with the core sensibilities of the genre that can move and excite the listener with uninhibited ease. The roads are paved in gold on this listening journey. Flawless. Darren Howells - Blues Matters!

"Review of 1st EP (UK: Fall 2003)"

"Equally elemental are Gravel Road. Those who remember the hag-ridden, punk-blues of The Gun Club will enjoy this duo’s six-track debut. Wide-eyed and pared-down, it crawls and gushes with slide-powered life. They have obviously listened to plenty of Fat Possum artists, including incomprehensible hillbilly oracle Hasil Adkins.

This is powerful ju-ju."

by Joe Cushley - Blues Matters!

"One of the ten better releases in the blues genre (Belgium: 2005)"

REVIEW of the NEW ALBUM by FREDDY CELIS at, an online Magazine. Rootstime also played a few tracks from the album.

“Without a doubt, one of the ten better releases in the blues genre that I heard this past year. If you buy only one album per year, you immediately know where your money can now be spent during the holidays.” -

"Dark Blues (US: 2005)"

RE'Presentin' the Dark Blues and lettin' it roll straight and low outta the bad side of Seattle! Like if when the pressed the button to blow the dome a GRAVEL ROAD song played instead. BOOM! - Rick Saunders

"Podcast Review (US: 2005)"

Take a little bit of the blues, add in a dash of the nastiest rock you can find and a heaping spoonful of raunchy punk and you get Gravel Road. It's like sneaking a ride in your old-man's '57, barreling down the highway at midnight while your lady gives you that "come to butthead" look from the back seat. You know your a busted and maybe a little afraid, but who gives a f#(k!?!?! Yeah... It's just like that! The song I chose from Gravel Road is Jesus on the Ward. If you want to find out more about them, you can check out their website

- - The Independent Anthem


- 2013: "The Bloody Scalp of Burt Merlin" (Knick Knack Records) - Full length LP/CD
- 2012: "Pedernales" (Knick Knack Records) - 7" Vinyl
- 2012:"Psychedelta" (Knick Knack Records) - Full Length LP/CD
- 2008: "Shot The Devil" (Uncle Larry's Records) - Full Length CD
- 2004: "Gravel Road" (self-released) - Full Length CD
- 2011: "Taledragger" (Alive Natural Sound Records)
- 2010: "The Ladies Man" (Alive Natural Sound Records)



Three friends form the core of GravelRoad, a group that has been together for over a decade.

The group combines influences from Rock-n-Roll and Mississippi Hill Country Blues and produces a sound that is both familiar and new.

With musical roots well-established, GravelRoad channels rough and rugged music through a bizarre lens to produce a mosiac of sound and live energy that is both odd and inviting.