Kilborn Alley took the stage with a vengeance and got the crowd revved up from the first note as harp player Joe Asselin displayed his unbelievable lung power on “Train To Memphis”. Josh Stimmel tested the strength of his Gibson’s strings with his mighty note bending on some down-home licks on “Foolsville.” Andrew Duncanson’s commanding, soulful vocals, which alternated between the styles of Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Redding, thundered across the room. His show-stopping performance on “Better Off Now” elicited whoo’s and yeah’s from the fans and even had the wait staff stopped in their tracks. That number earned the quintet the award for Best Blues Song, the title track from the band’s CD on Blue Bella.
Linda Cain, Review of 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy’s Legends, Chicago - Chicago Blues Guide (online) • October 29, 2010
The Kilborn Alley Blues Band’s third album, Better Off Now, stakes a claim for the band as among the genre’s elite music-makers. . . .
It’s been a decade now since the Kilborn Alley Blues Band, with several members then barely out of high school, started their slow-but-sure ascent to the top of the pile on the competitive Chicago blues scene. While earlier albums earned them acclaim and award nominations, Better Off Now shoots for all the marbles, scoring with an inspired collection of raucous performances so authentic in their Chicago blues roots that you can smell the smoke and feel the heat.
Keith A. Gordon
Blues Revue • June-July 2010
In the liner notes to the Kilborn Alley Blues Band’s latest disc, Better off Now, vocalist/guitarist Andrew Duncanson recalls the music scene of his hometown, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where people “expected their blues to be Honeyboy, Buddy, B.B., Denise LaSalle, Bobby Rush, and Stan Mosley.” That’s the pedigree of this band’s classic Chess-inspired blues.
The KABB is a sophisticated, R&B-soaked throwback to 1950s Chicago. While their music is vintage, their attitude is defiantly current. They’ve perfected a sinister shuffle a la Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, incorporated savvy, warbling harmonica that ricochets through the mix, and paired Jimmy Rogers-inspired guitar licks with . . . vocalist Duncanson’s deep southern inflected pipes. . . .The title track is a master work of soul, with Eric Michaels providing B-3 organ while Duncanson preaches with Wilson Pickett-inspired vocals.
Mark Uricheck, Living Blues • June 2010
The KABB sound is seamless in a way I rarely hear today. Some bands would create an ensemble by divvying up the solos among their members, making sure each got equal time out front. That's not what these guys do. Solos are rare and spare. They're there and you can pick out the different instruments from time to time, but the real sound of KABB is the way they can meld the harmonica and guitars and bond that to the rhythms being pounded out by Chris Breen and Ed O'Hara. Their sound is thick and muscular, oozing and bloozing without overkill and ego. The pieces don't just fit together, they belong together. It's the way they approach songwriting. . . .
Kilborn Alley Blues Band delivers on the promise of their previous records and reaches new heights. They've broadened their musical horizons without diluting their sound. They confidently move through different components of the blues — shuffles, soulful ballads, and hardboiled blues — and demonstrate mastery of them all. They are also more consistent than they've been on either of the first two records with no weak moments or missteps. Better Off Now is more than just the best album of their young career, it's one of the best blues records of recent memory.
Josh Hathaway, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (online) • 17 March 2010