Jeni Grouws, lead singer of the QC’s Avey Grouws Band, was on Cloud 10 Tuesday morning when she found out her new record, “Tell Tale Heart,” has already debuted in the Top Ten of the Billboard Blues Album Chart, the industry’s gold standard.
“We couldn’t be more surprised and excited to see that ‘Tell Tale Heart’ has debuted at #7 on this week’s Billboard Blues Album Chart!” she posted on Facebook. They placed higher than the latest from legendary artists Van Morrison and Lucinda Williams.
“This is just huge for us! We couldn’t have done it without the help of the DJs across the globe spinning our album, the hard work of Karen Leipziger and Michelle Castiglia and, most especially, because you went out and streamed and purchased our new album,” she wrote to Avey Grouws Band fans. “You are part of this moment!
“Keep those streams and downloads coming this week and tell your friends, too,” the Facebook post says.
“And if you’re still thinking about picking up ‘Tell Tale Heart,’ this is your sign! aveygrouwsband.com or wherever you get your music. It’s there.”
The current Billboard Blues chart top 10 are:
#1 Joanne Shaw Taylor – “The Blues Album”
#2 Tedeschi Trucks Band Featuring Trey Anastasio – “Layla Revisited (Live At Lockn’)”
#3 Ronnie Wood And The Ronnie Wood Band – “Mr. Luck: A Tribute To Jimmy Reed Live At The Royal Albert Hall”
#4 The Black Keys – “Delta Kream”
#5 Samantha Fish – “Faster”
#6 Tommy Castro – “Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town: A Blues Odyssey”
#7 Avey Grouws Band – “Tell Tale Heart”
#8 Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – “662”
#9 Mike Zito – “Resurrection”
#10 Van Morrison – “Latest Record Project, Volume 1”
A Sept. 23 review of AGB at rockandbluesmuse.com enthused:
“There’s nothing like listening to a new album where the first song grabs you by the collar and the winners keep coming the whole way through the 10 tracks. This is Avey Grouws Band and their new album, Tell Tale Heart, out September 24 on Navy House Records, recorded in Nashville at East Iris Studios and Purple House with Grammy-winning producer/engineer Casey Wasner at the helm.
“A unique blend of groove-based blues/rock, rock & roll and R&B, Avey Grouws Band is led by one helluva vocalist (Jeni Grouws) and superb guitar player (Chris Avey), with their top-tier band of Bryan West on drums, Randy Leasman on bass and Nick Vasquez on keys. Tell Tale Heart demonstrates that Avey Grouws Band is a group to be reckoned with and that Tell Tale Heart deserves to be heard.”
A Goldmine review said: “Jeni Grouws is a remarkably demonstrative vocalist, fully capable of delivering sturdy rockers, blustery blues, or…a tender heartfelt ballad. For his part, Chris Avey comes across as a prototypical guitar ace, one whose searing fretwork is both dazzling and decisive.
“Together with bassist Randy Leasman, drummer Bryan West and keyboard player Nick Vasquez, they make for a formidable ensemble…Many of these songs could easily be mistaken for standards given the band’s adept arrangements, clear confidence and a decidedly agile approach as far as the shift in styles…an explosive offering indeed.”
“It’s just mind blowing,” Grouws said later Tuesday of the chart debut. “This placement on Billboard is a reflection of the strength of the album. But more than that, it’s a reflection of the support we’ve been given from the DJs, the reviewers, our wildly loyal fans and from the greater music community, and we are so grateful.”
Their Covid-year debut release, “The Devil May Care” debuted at 13 and peaked at 10 on Billboard, in April 2020. Now, starting at #7?
“It’s huge…But I’m realistic about it,” she said. “Can we hang on for a second week? It’s really hard to do;, you have to sell a lot, get a lot of airplay to do it.”
People can also help them climb the chart by streaming “Tell Tale Heart,” since services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple play a role in the rankings.
Grouws was especially pumped to hit the chart high with the likes of Van Morrison, 76, who’s one of her childhood heroes.
“My first non-country concert was Van Morrison, when I was 8 years old. My dad put me on his shoulders,” she recalled. “It was in the ‘80s. I’d sing along and watch the backup girls. They looked like flight attendants, with bright colors, and I thought, I want to be like those guys someday.”
While AGB had their “Tell Tale” album release party Sept. 24 in Des Moines (to attract more national attention), they played for hometown fans Oct. 1 at Gypsy Highway, Davenport, attended by many friends and family.
“I loved that we had people come up on stage, like Reggie Webster, Levi Craft, and Matt Fuller,” Grouws said. “That’s the way I met these guys in the band – sharing the stage at a blues jam. It’s all about friends coming together, to support and enjoy music together. There’s nothing like the Quad Cities, people rallying around musicians they’re proud of.”
The band is performing Friday night in Cedar Rapids on a bill with Joanna Connor, but will be the main act Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. at The Whiskey Stop in East Moline, and Oct. 24 at The V’ue in Clinton, Iowa. AGB also will perform at Davenport’s Redstone Room on Nov. 12.
For more information, visit their website.