FORT SMITH — Has your mojo left you in the lurch trudging through the drudgery of another dull work week? If so, you’re in luck.
Leah & the Mojo Doctors will practice rarified healing arts Saturday (June 30) at Webby D’s.
When lead vocal vocalist/shaman Leah Spears raises her arms toward heaven and calls upon the divine spirits of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues, her commanding voice infuses the soul with just the cure for those mojo blues. Even Spears freely admits that she “gets lost in the magic” of it all.
The powers of this band have been duly noted — and rewarded. At this year’s Northwest Arkansas Music Awards (also known as the NAMAs), Leah & the Mojo Doctors was named to the NAMA Hall of Fame in multiple categories, and Spears received her second nod for Best Female Vocalist (she won the award for the first time in 2008). In 2011, the band received the NAMA for Best Cover Band, and they were named Best Blues Band in 2009 and 2010.
Clearly, this is not your typical cover band. Leah & the Mojo Doctors takes popular originals such as “American Girl” by Tom Petty and “Every Day is a Winding Road” by Cheryl Crow and re-stylizes them. Spears says they like to “mojo-fi” whatever they cover. They inject otherwise familiar tunes with the blues and then transcend them.
Their cover of Ray LaMontagne’s “Repo Man” for example, is one of Spears’ favorites — “It’s tribal,” she says — and yes, it will inspire you to get up and dance.
The band in its current lineup: Matt Perrine on lead guitar, Sev Myers on bass/vocals, Bill Hynes on drums/vocal and the most recent addition, one of Fort Smith’s most popular musicians, Jody Andrews who joined the band last summer.
Spears recalls her first encounter with Andrews encounter: “The first thing Jody said to me was ‘Hi, my name’s Jody and we’re going to be friends.’”
And what a friendship they have.
Andrews’ guitar and back-up vocals add a depth and range to the band that now projects a full-frontal wall of sound that envelopes the audience in the comforting womb of blues.
The thunderous power of Spears’ voice is signaled by the lightning strikes of Perrine on lead guitar. Perrine will make your head snap to attention with powerfully bolting riffs that put so much electricity in the air it makes one believe in the second coming of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Sacrilege!?
How about Robert Plant and Jimmy Paige or Stevie Nicks? Yes, the perfect-storm of Perrine’s steel strings and Spears’ steely voice invites such comparisons.
This is one Doctor’s appointment you should look forward to.