Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Coupe Deville Band - Live

It was just one of those nights when all I wanted to do was just stay inside and curl up with a nice bottle of Jamesons and listen to Robert Belfour over and over again. But a promise was a promise, and I didn’t want to go back on my word to “Johnny B” so I set out for The Roma to catch The Coupe Deville Band live.

And, I’m damn glad I did. Based on the turn out on a rainy Saturday night, it is pretty clear why The Coupe Deville Band is a well-respected band within the Merrimack Valley.

The Coupe Deville Band goes back some 30 years. Started by Dale Stubbs & some friends/coworkers from Hewlet Packard, with an ever evolving line-up The Coup DeVille Band continues to play to full houses throughout the Merrimack Valley. Keeping a band together for any length of time is an impressive accomplishment. Playing music at a semipro to professional level requires passion, dedication, commitment and humility. For every “packed house” story there are several stories of “long hours for short money”. What makes The Coupe Deville band so much fun is all five guys enjoy just about everything to do with playing music live. They are often at the venue early, chatting up old and new friends and their enjoyment of playing live is infectious.

The bar at The Roma bar is a local watering hole where the drafts beers are tall and reasonably priced and the cheeseburgers are cooked to perfection. A medium rare burger is medium rare, nicely red and juicy, not medium well. Patrons come to the bar at The Roma to drink, eat and gamble. Expect to catch a ration of shit for ordering an Apple-tini from the bar staff and expect to sit next to a stranger at the bar and leave strangers. It is about as perfect a setting for blues music as we get in the Merrimack Valley. Since relocating their Tuesday night blues jam to The Roma ( it made sense to catch a live show at Coupe DeVille’s unofficial home base.

Before the gig I had a chance to catch-up with both “Johhny B” Schiavoni and Matt Stubbs. Johnny B was beaming over the positive response their tuesday night blues jam was receiving and Matt was continuing to spend time as Charlie Musselwhite’s road guitarist, taking some spot gigs with Coup DeVille while also prepping for the March release for Medford & Main, Matt’s solo release scheduled to drop in March of 2010. Blue Bella Records, out of Chicago Illinois, will be releasing Medford & Main and Matt was planning several CD release parties for February 2010. After catching up with some of the guys I headed to the bar, placed my order and prepared myself to be entertained.

Coupe DeVille has a bar friendly and danceable blues rock sound by five guys with superior chops. This is not your average bar band. There may not be a lot of deep tracks in their encyclopedic catalog of cover tunes, but the execution is near flawless. Though the line-up has changed throughout the 30 years of the band, signals, communication and cues improve over time. This superior communication is key, especially since Dale & the band often like to jam out instrumentals when the moment suits them.

A standard Coup DeVille line-up features the father and son team of Dale & Matt Stubbs on guitar, with “Johnny B” Schiavoni on vocals. Watching and listening to Matt & Dale play off each other it is easy to see that while other fathers and sons spent countless hours tossing a ball back and forth, these two spent countless hours tossing phrygian scales back and forth. Schiavoni with Dale Carnegie inspired front man skills, delivers smooth vocals sounding somewhere between a cross of Paul Butterfield and Stevie Ray Vaughn. None of this firepower is possible without a rock solid and airtight rhythm section capable of pushing the tempo when necessary to keep people dancing, or keep rock solid time if a six string guitar player decides to play over the bar line. Coupe Deville’s current rhythm section of Steve Tatarunis on bass and Phil DeLaine on drums are just that section. Tatarunis and DeLaine obviously have more chops than on display, however they propel the band by locking in an airtight groove.

The Coupe Deville Band hosts the Tuesday Night Blues Jam at The Roma every week, starting at 9PM and play throughout the Merrimack Valley several times a month. For more info on The Coupe Deville Band check out their schedule at or keep posted with Matt’s solo project at . As with all live shows recommended here, please tell them Georgetown Fats sent you.