For, like all truly great singers, Tufo has a style, a real style, that incorporates actual singing techniques like phrasing, voice placement, and dynamics. Beyond that, God gifted her with a very rare instrument - which over the years, she has learned to command with perfect precision. A rare musician in a world of image uber alles and overnight success.
Each of the accomplished members of the band gets a shot at an extended solo, and each proves his mettle with understated artistry. Margo enters on the following tune, “Tell Mama”, her smoky contralto sounding as warm and fuzzy as a favored sweater. She migrates through the funky number with facile savvy. But check out her bluesy, ballsy delivery on Tom McFarland’s “Just Got In From Portland”, where following an extended trebly guitar solo by Robbie Laws, she digs in, moaning like Paul Desmond playing sax with The Dave Brubeck Quartet of the 60’s. Her intonation begins at her lips and courses through entire body, vibrating like a reed. The proceedings segue into Bobby Troupe’s 50’s classic “Route 66”. Tufo growls out the vocals in a nasal blues style. But her phrasing betrays a familiarity with the works of jazz-torch singer Peggy Lee as well. Ray Charles’ bluesy gospel-tinged ballad, “Hard Times” fits Margo’s voice like a glove, as does the sprightly funky soul of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” She pulls at her voice in the upper chest in exactly the same way as Reverend Al. Side two features a “be-bobby swang thing” instrumental - “Friday Night at The Cadillac Club,” a fine duet between tenor saxophonist Renato Caranto and alto saxophonist Ben Fowler. But catch Margo on the following cut “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In.” She utilizes every vocal trick in her bag, cajoling the words, as if each were individual yo-yo walking the dog. “747” is a big ol’ jet of an R & B tune that hints at the feel of B.B. King; as does the following tune, his signature song, “The Thrill Is Gone.” The skipping reggae of “Giving It Up For Your Love” comes as a welcome change from the mostly blues setting of the recording - and affords Margo the opportunity to stretch out into a little different direction, her sounding like Mavis Staples. For those of you who are blues fans, “Live at The Candlelight” is a must have. But for those of you who are, like myself, dubious at best about the whole genre, you will find no better purveyor of the stuff than Margo Tufo.
She should be considered a state treasure.
S.P. Clarke, Two Louies Music Magazine
If you don’t know Margo Tufo, you’re in for a treat. If you do know here, you’re in for a surprise.
This is the CD you’ve been waiting for, the blues your momma promised. It’ll exalt and assault you, pick you up and lay you down, play your angst like a harp, nibble your ear ‘til you scream “uncle”, and make you fall in love again.
Some bands take no prisoners, this one flat out frees them. No fluffs or cliches, just loose knit, tight wrapped rhythm & blues played from the inside out by those who have been around long enough to know better.
As for Madame Tufo, she doesn’t just roll your socks down here, she unravels them in front of your eyes. A lot of singers cook, but La Tufo is a gourmet, and what she whomps up at The Candlelight is ten pounds of blues in a five-pound velvet bag.
It’s no accident that she received the Muddy Waters Award for Outstanding Female Blues Vocalist in the Northwest, or that her debut album, “STILL CRAZY”, was nominated for Best
In a genre too honest for crowns, Margo Tufo is a jewel in the crushed fedora of the blues. Sit back and listen to one of the real ones".
This Week Magazine
Margo Tufo, Portland’s foremost interpreter of Soul and Blues, sets forth a live collection of
dynamic and expressive styles of music in her latest release simply called The Margo Tufo
Band - Live at The Candlelight. Just how special this release is, is noted in the fact that it
was recorded at on of Portland’s “hottest” nightclubs, The Candlelight Cafe & Bar. This
certainly is one of Margo’s favorite spots as she and the band play there regularly to a full
A remote recording, done by Dogfish Studios here in Portland, this live recording sounds
fantastic! It’s mixed exceptionally well (by Drew Canulette & Margo Tufo). I was there the
Candlelight was packed and it was “party time.” Margo comes through on this recording with
the energy that she prolifically produced those evenings.
What a band! Margo has always surrounded herself with outstanding musicians. This is a
first-rate band - the bottom is so solid with Phil Haxton on bass and Brian Foxworth on drums.
The horns are really a highlight, with Ben Fowler on alto sax, Renato Caranto on tenor sax,
and John Morrell on trumpet -they fill out the sound making it full and robust (reminds me of
the Crusaders in the early days). Benny Wilson’s Hammond B3 work is pure toned, a true
sound that just can’t be synthesized (no way!) Then there’s Robbie Laws, his guitar work is
spectacular at times. Robbie is one of Portland’s “best axemen” - he lays it down and
“punches” it out leaving no mistake as to his talent.
There’s a lot of variety on this recording and that’s what’s so appealing and refreshing about
it. The band has room to breathe on the instrumental “Friday Night at The Cadillac Club”. It
sounds sooooooo good! The cut that stands up and begs to be noticed is the last cut on the
album, “Giving It Up For Your Love”, a “funky thang” with those hearty vocal licks by
Margo. It’s sixty (plus) minutes of great music - everybody shines!! Margo and the band
work together really well on the Ray Charles classic, “Hard Times”.
I suggest you pick up a CD or cassette and find out just how good each track is. You won’t be
Editor Blues Notes (Cascade Blues Association Newspaper)
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