Blind Owl is very pleased to announce that Chest Fever - keyboardist Jody Bagley, guitarist Dan Cervantes, and bassist Blake Dean of the San Diego Music Award winning rock band Mrs. Henry, organist Doug Organ, and drummer Allan Ritter - are releasing a full live recording of the iconic LP Rock Of Ages on July 7th, capturing the magic of their 2022 tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release.
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The Band left behind a timeless legacy of unforgettable music and a vast catalog of fabled songs. Band members Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson embodied a musical alchemy that has been firmly cemented in myth and legend. Their impact on rock music and culture is permanently etched in the hallowed halls of American history.
Officially approved by Robbie Robertson, Chest Fever is comprised of keyboardist Jody Bagley, guitarist Dan Cervantes, and bassist Blake Dean of the San Diego Music Award winning rock band Mrs. Henry, rounded out with organist Doug Organ, drummer Allan Ritter, are releasing a full live recording of the iconic LP Rock Of Ages in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the seminal release.
“We set out from the get-go to interpret these songs rather than recreate or pay tribute” explains Bagley. Dean continues, “Like Leonard Bernstein, the goal is to bring to life compositions from one of the great catalogs in the history of music. We like to say at every show: “We are a band playing the Band’s music.” Our band is Mrs. Henry, performing as Chest Fever. It’s like Bruce Wayne by day and Batman by night.”
The shows, from which the performances featured on Rock Of Ages were taken, took place towards the end of a long tour. “Every show was different and had its own life force to it” says Cervantes. The final show of the three-week US/Canadian tour was in Brooklyn, NY on August 15th - the actual 50th anniversary release of Rock Of Ages. After two months of last-minute bookings, routings, Covid positives, Bus breakdowns, organ breakdowns and everything else in the book of a 21st century rock n roll band, the fates smiled and gave the band a day off at a family lake house. Cold water by day and a campfire by night recharged the band, and the chemistry for the New York show was dialed. Or as Canada’s favorite organist / drummer Doug Organ puts it, “the band was really cookin’!”
To be clear, while Chest Fever is reinterpreting another group's songbook, they are far from a cover band. “We consider it an honor to be performing this music live and having the opportunity to carry the torch of The Band” tells Cervantes. “Rock Of Ages is by many considered to be the definitive live album by the group. This is for the actual fans and diehards.” While The Band often gets put into the jam-band “crunchy” category along with the likes of The Grateful Dead or The Allman Brothers, there was certainly a sense of fluidity that permeated their live performances. “The way the songs themselves are played is interpreted on a night-to-night basis” says Ritter. “The parts are all there, but the way they come together fits into this cosmic space of melodies talking to one another and moving in and out of the music.” Indeed, even the famous horn arrangements originally done by Allan Toussaint were reinterpreted by Chest Fever’s orchestral horn/string arranger Jesse Audelo.
While we can no longer vibe to Robertson and crew through a haze of smoke and the cheer of the crowd, through the inspired work of this modern band of brothers we can still drink deep from the well of cosmic creativity that opened to us all. These recordings capture the magic of gifted players locked deep in the groove, magic crackling through the hot summer night. As Organ puts it, “turn it up loud when you’re listening, and it’s like being there. ;)”
Recently featured on an episode of The Band: A History podcast, members of Chest Fever were interviewed about the origins for the project. The seed for Chest Fever was born out of Mrs. Henry’s sold-out November 2021 show "Mrs. Henry Presents The Last Waltz" at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA. It was there, playing alongside legendary musicians such as Eagles collaborator and hit songwriter Jack Tempchin, violinist Scarlet Rivera of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, solo artist/Black Crowes member Marc Ford, and local hero Isaiah Mitchell, that the idea took flight.
Chest Fever is a melting pot of rock and roll, a deep musical exploration of a vast catalog steeped in storytelling, told through the prism of the American Mythos and the cosmic spirit of the West Coast. From The Band and Bob Dylan’s collaborative home recordings, The Basement Tapes, through Music From Big Pink and The Last Waltz. The thread connecting all of this music is a storytelling tradition that runs through all the known corners of an “old weird America”, as noted by scholar Greil Marcus. Chest Fever is the next step in this tradition, moving the legacy of The Band forward into the 21st century. The stories, legend and community of The Band live on through the passion and magic of Chest Fever, newly embodied in the live performance and burning energy they bring to every stage.