Few things foreshadow raising a little hell as effectively as an open flame in a crowded room.
Dorothy Martin burned an out-sized lighter over her head, literally stoking and firing up the 9:30 Club crowd on February 12th.
Dorothy and her blues rock band kicked off the jam-packed evening with “Naked Eye”, a song from the film Served Like a Girl, and then she asked the expectant crowd if we wanted to ‘raise a little hell?’ before delving into one their best rock anthems, “Raise Hell”.
They are touring for their second album, 28 Days in the Valley, and the stage was adorned with faint hints of this valley, an image of giant palm trees and mountains in the background and two potted cacti resting discreetly on a speaker. They played their hearts out throughout the night, and in total played 15 songs, including six from Valley.
A truly soulful rendition of “After Midnight” gave Dorothy the chance to confide that many of her songs exist to explore things that maybe we can relate to, like small people who ruin your opportunities. Or a song can simply be about weed, like “Pretty When You’re High”.
The band formed in LA in 2014, and besides Dorothy, is Jason Ganberg (drums), Owen Barry (guitar), Eli Wulfmeier (guitar), and Eliot Lorango (bass).
Midway through their set, they gave us “Medicine Man”, a great slow burning ballad that ended explosively, ratcheting up the guitar riffs and beats for a fiery finish.
So much so, that Dorothy stepped off stage to let the rest of the band shine for a song, taking us on an instrumental journey that Van Halen would have been proud of, where both guitar players, the bassist and the drummer went to town.
Later they performed the ultra-blues “Who Do You Love”, and maybe the crowd blinked because Dorothy wanted us ‘to wake the fuck up’ before melting our faces off with blistering waves of driving bass and drums undergirding her emphatically drawn out lyrics.
Next, the single “Flawless” proved to be a chill-inducing blues meditation, snaking through the themes of redemption and loving yourself ‘when coming out of the darkness’ after dealing with one of those aforementioned small people.
Everything works well when the five band members are in sync, but the appeal of their sound, and that of this particular show, is Dorothy’s deep, resonant voice that carried across the club, burning bright spots in our hearts and minds.
They are about two-thirds of the way through 2019’s The Freedom Tour, which they will conclude at the end of the month. The only other time I caught them live, was also at the 9:30 Club, when they opened for The Struts in 2016, and I thought ‘oh wow, I need more of this’. Sadly, it’s been 2-1/2 years in between live shows, but I did put their first album Rockisdead to good listening use.
After they returned for the encore, Dorothy asked us to ‘manifest a new you’ and ended the excellent evening with the ballad “Shelter”, decrying she’s ‘a world of pain’ and we are ‘a safe place’.
Keep the fires burning, by picking up a copy of 28 Days in the Valley, it will do you some good.
Ain’t Our Time to Die
Pretty When You’re High
Who Do You Love
Down To The Bottom