Sounds like Brother Duane wandered back into the building to jam with the Funky Meters. But the guys making these sounds are not from out of this world, nor even from out of town. Local talent is the backbone of guitarist Cyril Lance’s band, The Outskirts. Lance, drummer Kelly Pace and bassist Chris Carroll are familiar to locals as former members of the Wicked Mojos, Mel Melton’s band. But it’s Lance’s show now, and he leads it along the boundaries of Allman territory with the hands of Duane and the voice of Gregg. To give it more of that Allman/Meters feel, Lance enlisted the help of former Allman B-3/piano man Johnny Neel and Boston-based ex-Ronnie Earl pianist Matt Jenson. This offering is from a live set at Greensboro’s Blind Tiger over three nights in December of last year.
Though Lance slides around like Duane on the opening cut, “I Want the Real Thing,” he doesn’t stay locked in the Allman groove for the rest of the disc. He digs up some Hendrix-style blues for “I Went Down” and demonstrates some fluid, celestial string pulling on “Remembering Jon.” All three are Lance originals.
Lance lets Neel tear things up with his composition “Blues Ain’t Nothing,” a 10-minute boogie-woogie blast furnace that gives everybody a chance to stretch out. The cut features the pianist doing one of his stream of consciousness monologues, wailing like a lost soul while pounding away like a man possessed. Willie Dixon’s “Same Thing” is presented in slo-mo creep mode with a backbeat funky enough to encourage the women in the audience to do the same thing that causes a man to get into the same trouble that Dixon wrote about.
Improvisational jazz guitarist John Scofield’s “Chank” has enough meandering, trance-like guitar mixed with thick, chunky riffs to satisfy any jam band fan. “I don’t consider myself a great guitar player when it comes to technique or knowledge of gear,” Lance says, “but people really respond when you have something to say musically that transcends all of that. And that’s where the power is.” When Cyril Lance is in the house, the power is always on.