Getting those Riverhead Blues

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Roomful of Blues. Sonja Lemoi photo.

Roomful of Blues, the world-renowned, horn-powered, house-rocking blues band, will perform live at The Suffolk Theater in Riverhead on Sunday, November 21, at 8 p.m.

The Rhode Island-based group has been delighting audiences for over 50 years and earned five Grammy Award nominations and a slew of other accolades, including seven Blues Music Awards. Twice, the prestigious DownBeat International Critics Poll selected them as Best Blues Band. The band’s latest album release is “In A Roomful Of Blues.”

“In A Roomful Of Blues,” the band’s sixth release on Alligator Records (and 19th overall), was produced by guitarist and bandleader Chris Vachon and features 13 wide-ranging songs, including 10 band-composed originals — more than on any previous Roomful album.

Eight songs were written or co-written by Vachon (including one authored with vocalist Phil Pemberton), plus one each by sax player Alek Razdan and keyboardist Rusty Scott. From the rocking “We’d Have A Love Sublime” to the funkified “You Move Me” to the closing-time lament “She Quit Me Again” to the up-to-the-minute “Phone Zombies,” “In A Roomful Of Blues” is filled with soaring blues, zydeco twists, late-night ballads, Latin-tinged funk and a touch of vintage, fifth-gear rock ‘n’ roll.

Vachon first joined Roomful in 1990, and has been leading the band since 1998. The band has maintained its signature sound and a stellar horn section — featuring tenor and alto saxophonist Rich Lataille, who first joined the band in 1970. Lataille’s masterful playing can evoke either the fat-toned, honking sax of the glory days of early rock or the cool elegance of big band swing jazz.

Along with Vachon and Lataille, the band includes vocalist Phil Pemberton, baritone and tenor saxophonist Alek Razdan, trumpeter Carl “Geerz” Gerhard, bassist John Turner, drummer Chris Anzalone and keyboardist Rusty Scott.

With “In A Roomful Of Blues,” the band has once again captured all of their frenetic energy and musical power in the studio, proving without doubt that this is a band built to stand the test of time. While keenly aware of the group’s half-century of history, Vachon is quick to note, however, that they are constantly looking forward.

“We always keep things fresh and we keep the excitement level high. Playing this music is an immense amount of fun for us,” he says. “And it’s just as much fun for our audience.”

Roomful of Blues began in 1967 when a group of southern Rhode Island teenagers with a shared passion for the blues formed a straight-ahead Chicago-style electric blues band to explore the music of their heroes. They added a horn section (including Rich Lataille) in 1970 and released their self-titled debut album in 1977 on Island Records (reissued on Hyena Records), which brought them to the attention of fans and critics from coast to coast. The band has performed around the world, including Lebanon, Poland, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey and Russia.

Roomful of Blues plays The Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 21. Tickets are $49 at suffolktheater.com or 631-727-4343.

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