Rough, rugged and raw

First the guitar comes in, forcing your foot to subconsciously tap to the beat. Then the drums kick in, followed by bass and a harmonica.

But this is not a recording from the 1950s or a radio station tuned to “the best of the ’60s.”

The album is Rattlebag, the self-proclaimed and well-stated “hard blues for modern times,” by Paul Reddick and the Sidemen.

The Toronto quartet makes a stop at the Ringside Cafe tonight in St. Petersburg.

Reddick provides lead vocals and harmonica on Rattlebag. Greg Marshak (bass), Kyle Ferguson (guitar) and Colin Linden (guitar) play both acoustic and electric instruments.

The addition of electric instruments is not the only modern influence on the album. It is also the band members’ personal inspirations that show.

“Most musicians hear all kinds of music and it seeps into what you do,” Reddick said. “Our bass player really likes Zeppelin and the guitar player on the CD loves the [Rolling] Stones.”

Reddick states in the liner notes that Rattlebag was greatly influenced by traditional blues and folk music. He credits the traditional sound to the Alan Lomax Library of Congress field recordings of non-professional musicians, which Reddick considers to have “defined the blues as we know it.”

“I draw upon the earliest, oldest types of blues for musical inspiration,” Reddick said. “But I try to flip things around and backwards and upside down. I like to go through its pockets and look for change. There is so much to explore in blues.”

Rattlebag captures a gritty, under-produced sound that a pop music addict would need therapy to handle.

The album contains no overdubs or changes to the songs. Rattlebag is a completely live recording, including “Pearl River Blues,” which was written three days before recording and was the band’s first performance of the song.

“When we made Rattlebag we used a lot of interesting studio techniques to catch the songs in the wild,” Reddick said. “Old mics, slow tape, good food, tube amps, a bottle of rum. Colin Linden, the fellow who produced the album, is a genius of the wild sound.”

The band takes pride in its live performances and believes that it is the best publicity.

Enjoying life and touring as much as possible, Paul Reddick and the Sidemen hit the road to perform and to develop fans.

The fanbase for blues is getting smaller, older and harder to find, but Reddick is up for the challenge.

“I believe songs may be the key to attracting a wider audience,” Reddick said. “The main way we get the songs out there is to play them live, as much as we can. We hope to catch their ears, make them dance, take them on a trip.”

If you are looking for a way to calm down after spring break or an escape from the quickly-approaching finals week, Paul Reddick and the Sidemen might be the remedy for you.

Contact Andrea Papadopoulos at