Blues, as rendered by Midwestern white people, tends to be a rote exercise of following down the same footpaths of chord structures hollowed out by generations of performers. And lyrically, present-day blues tends to be leaden with its lack of authenticity, which has been replaced with a fake cheer. The challenge for a band like Cherri and the Violators is to reinvent the blues and bring something fresh to the table.
Northern Michigan based Cherri and the Violators recall the glory days of blues rock as practiced by the likes of Foghat, Cream, or more recently Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers. Like those bands the Violators rock hard but have a bluesy edge that keeps blues fans interested. Leading the sonic assault is guitarist Tony Burke who clearly spent as many hours soaking up classic 70's riffs by Robin Trower and Johnny Winter as he spent with the bedrock blues of Albert Collins, Albert King and Buddy Guy.
That's not to say that blues fans won't find familiar sounds here. They will, but they aren't the standard boogies and shuffles that fill all too many regional blues discs. Instead, the blues creeps in by way of the band's self penned lyrics and their terrific guitar work. Bandmates Paul Bendig on vocals/bass, and Hank Cupp on drums/percussion serve up a powerful backdrop for vocalist Cheryl Bendig, never overplaying their hand.
Bendig’s vocals have an addictive flower child quality that recalls the great pop singers of the '60s. She has a knack for vocal phrasing that delivers the songs with the raw power of Janis Joplin but the finesse of Ann Wilson. Bendig is also a fearless songwriter with topics covering everything from the monthly bouts that send men into hiding, PMS Blues, to the struggles of the unemployed, Empty Pockets.
No one can deny that Cherri and the Violators aren't violating the envelope here, creating their own vision of the blues that is pleasantly pop-oriented and unexpectedly romantic. You have to hand it to them: they have succeeded in slapping the paddles on the old zombie blues and reviving it as their own personal creation with songwriting that is exceptionally strong.