Meghan Parnell and Dave Barnes’ band, Bywater Call, first came to our attention with the 2018 Talent Search. Led by Parnell’s magnificent voice and Barnes’ fluid slide guitar, they won rather handily. They’ve also been gigging regularly including at some major blues festivals, building a following large enough to use Hugh’s Room for the CD launch held on Nov. 22. All this gigging has also led to a nomination in the New Artist category for the MBAs. They have two horns and a very impressive set of original songs. Bruce McCarthy plays drums, Mike Meusel plays bass and Alan Zemaitis is on keys. The two horn players are Stephen Dyte on trumpet and Julian Nalli on tenor making for an absolutely superb unit. Drawing on the sounds of the Allman Brothers and Tedeschi Trucks Band and blending that with their version of the Stax sound of Memphis and Muscle Shoals in Alabama, they’ve found a rich vein to explore. Over a muted slide and organ intro, the rest of the band soon kicks in on Parnell’s rousing plea not to be passed over, that she has what he needs, making “Arizona” a tremendous set opener. Label mates Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar are on hand for superb background vocals. “Forgive” finds Parnell on the other side, asking forgiveness for her admitted transgressions, another powerful rocker. A major highlight is “Talking Backwards”, there is an annoying person who just won’t leave and Parnell has decided to talk backwards until he does. The band here just smokes. Somewhat slower is the first single, “Walk on By”, a well-written song rejecting the advances of a potential suitor. The one really slow song is a gem: “Hometown” is a powerful tale of a woman who has decided to stay in her small hometown and marry because she’s unable to leave. Acceptance of her fate comes eventually. The upward trajectory of this band continues with a European tour in the new year. Get on board now, go to www.bywatercall.com.

December 2019 - Emily Burgess
December 2019 - Jackie Washington