The Skyla Burrell Blues Band, by Virginiabluesman

Posted on 7/11/2010 by Virginiabluesman

(Washington DC) I recently had the opportunity to check out a blues band from Pennsylvania. I've been following this band online thru videos on Youtube and their website, and grabbed the chance to see them at Madam's Organ in D.C. I had the feeling this band had the potential to be something special, but seeing as how there seemed to be limited information about them on the Internet, I had to go on bits and pieces of things I had heard about them. All the reports and word of mouth about Skyla Burrell were positive, but I was going to find out for myself.

Pulling up to the venue and finding a parking place was an adventure. The streets were filled with people starting their weekend off in a good way. The first thing I noticed is that there are many clubs to party at in this area of D.C. I drove around for a good 15 minutes or so, and finally found a parking garage that actually let me park in free. I'm not sure WHY the the parking attendent didn't charge me, but I wasn't going to question his offer.

Sign Above The Bar

The crowd at the start of the show was a good crowd, but there were empty seats in the house. It was an enthusiastic group of people, but it didn't appear that many knew who the band was. Madams Organ is known for being a party place with a built-in audience for bands who play the venue, and I'm sure Skyla and her band appreciated that. The built-in crowd can be a good thing, but it can also expose a weak band. This was not the case with The Skyla Burrell Blues Band this night.

Skyla Burrell

The band played exlusively songs that they had written themselves. This can be a definite turn-off to me if the tunes are weak, but the musicianship displayed by all the members of The Skyla Burrell Blues Band was so strong that nobody missed hearing "blasts from the past." Skyla displayed an incredible amount of confidence with her guitar slashing, but maybe what was even more impressive than her guitar playing was her strong vocals. One thing that I have noticed about female blues vocalists, whether its fair or not to feel this way, is that the vocals aren't generally as strong as the guitar playing. The blues are different. The lyrics have to be belted out with feeling. Of course there ARE female blues vocalists like Susan Tedeschi, Janiva Magness, Gina Sicilia, and D.C. up and comer Stacy Brooks who know how to belt out a blues tune, and I would absolutely put Skyla in this group of vocalists.

Mark Tomlinson

The "other" lead guitarist is Mark Tomlinson, and he shared lead guitar licks with Skyla all evening. Mark's style of play had a different feel than Skyla's. His guitar playing seemed more in the vain of rock music, while Skyla's had more of a genuine blues feel to it. This is not to say that Mr Tomlinson's guitar solos weren't up to the level of Ms Burrell's. The two different styles of play added versatility to their sound, and the other band members held their own with the incredible musicianship of Skyla Burrell and Mark Tomlinson.

As the show went on, the crowd got closer to the stage. I talked to and met many of the people who came to the front of the stage to get closer to the band, and the majority of them took great pleasure in watching Skyla's magic fingers run across the fret board. I am a huge fan of the blues, and the chance to view a musician of Skyla's talents that up close is a very special thing indeed. While the crowd was more of a younger crowd, there was also a sprinkling of the older folk (ME for one), but the one thing that everyone seemed to share that evening was a love for good rockin' blues. I am not convinced that the crowd was a blues loving crowd necesarily, but The Skyla Burrell Band had the crowd on their feet most of the evening.

View From The Stage

I am looking forward to a live CD from this band, but I got the feeling from talking to Skyla that the wait might be a long one. In the mean time, if this band comes anywhere close to your area, put on your blues shoes and hit their show. It will be well worth your time, and you will be treated to a great evening of rockin' blues.


Skyla Burrell - Lead Vocals & Lead Guitar

Mark Tomlinson - Lead Guitar

Chris Sellman - Bass

Ezell Jones - Drums


Working Girl Blues - 2004 (12 Original Tracks)

Livin' Day to Day - 2006 (14 Original Tracks)

Tough Luck - 2008 (15 Original Tracks)


Skyla Burrell Blues Band Video - Digital Cafe Tour

Show Rating : 5 bluesmen (out of five)
Venue : 4 bluesmen (out of five)

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