The Jeff Roberts Band
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The Jeff Roberts Band

Band Blues Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Getting Into the Act: The Jeff Roberts Band"

April 15, 2004
by Jodi Duckett

The Jeff Roberts Band has been together only about six months, but they're a tight trio, and it's not suprising. For years, they played back-up together to Rick "Mad Dog" Moyer in Blues Night Out.

But this band has its own sound -- a swing blues led not by harmonica but by guitar and drums. Roberts and company are especially passionate about the smooth swing of the '40's and '50's , but they want the band's catalogue to be as stylistically diverse as possible.

That was evident in a gig Friday at Allentown's Susquehanna Bar & Grill. The band's first set included a blazing "Rockin' Daddy" by Howlin' Wolf, with Jeff Roberts' impassioned vocals; a swinging "Lipstick, Powder and Paint" by Big Joe Turner, with Fritchman offering spirited lead vocals, and the Albert King ballad "I'll Play the Blues for You," led soulfully by Roberts. The vocals seem seasoned, but Roberts says they're all new to singing. Bassist Stephen Harvilla offers harmonies, but tends to stay in the background.

Shaken up by the end of a relationship and shaking things up by ditching an old job, Roberts got the band going at the urging of his mentor, local bluesman Craig Thatcher. A good response to a first gig at a blues benefit got them jazzed and a lucky break filling in for Thatcher at The Shandy in Allentown got them exposure. Now the band has several more dates at The Shanty and a coveted spot at Musikfest.
- The Morning Call, Allentown, PA




Feeling a bit camera shy


The Jeff Roberts Band is heavily influenced and rooted to the Blues. Though the group crosses many stylistic boundaries their sound borrows from such late greats as:

Billy Boy Arnold, Howlin Wolf, Otis Rush, Hollywood Fats, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lowell Fullson, T-Bone Walker and the like. In addition, the group delivers contemporary blues styles as performed by: Duke Robillard, John Hammond, Jimmie Vaughan, Sonny Landreth, Ronnie Earl and Melvin Taylor.

The band is also known for its mix of old swing (Big Joe Turner, Nat King Cole), Rock-n-Roll (Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins), Contemporary Folk (Monte Montgomery, Chris Smither) and all that share in the heritage of the Blues.

The Jeff Roberts Band is: Jeff Roberts on Guitar, Michael Fritchman on Drums, and Stephen Harvilla on Bass. The group shares lead and backing vocals drawing attention from one side of the stage to the other. The bond of prior band-mate experience shines creating a comfort the audience can feel and enjoy.

The trio has worked and traveled clubs covering the entire east coast for over five years as a backing group. Now with Jeff - Mike and Stephen have stepped forward to create a new group that delivers like never before.

Jeff Roberts has garnered considerable experience over the last eight years of his playing. He has performed and still performs at times with

Lonnie Shields - (Rooster Blues, JSP)
Big Jack Johnson- (MC Records)
WC Clark Band- (Black Top Records)
The Nighthawks- (Big Mo, Varrick, Adelphi and Ruf Records)
Sam Carr- (Legendary Blues Drummer w/ The Jelly Roll Kings-Little Walter- Buddy Guy-Eric Anderson and more)
Eddie Kirkland- (RPM Records w/John Lee Hooker- Stax Records w/ Otis Redding- Telarc, JSP, Evidence and more)
Keisa Brown- (Malaco Records)

In addition, Jeff and Lehigh Valley guitarist Craig Thatcher have recorded and performed for Bethlehem's holiday festival, Christkindlmarkt. The guitarists also share a passion for Jazz and are crafting a duo to perform in 2004.