Sandoz - “Road to Your Heart”
Best of the Blues, Volume 2
Song released in 1990. Compilation released in 1997.
Electric Blues / Harmonica Blues
From the liner notes of Sandoz’s second album, Unfamiliar Territory:
Sandoz is the musical link between Pittsburgh’s three rivers and the improvisational tradition of the San Francisco Bay area. The core of Sandoz formed acoustically in 1983 and went electric soon afterwards, becoming a favorite attraction at area clubs.
Obviously, “improvisational tradition of the San Francisco Bay area” is a sophisticated way of saying “jam band,” and that’s primarily what Sandoz has been all these years. But what’s allowed them to kick around for over three and a half decades is their versatility. They can play great combos of rock, folk, and blues, all with that fun-night-out-bar-band kind of vibe.
Sandoz initially started out like any other aspiring jam band by playing Grateful Dead covers, but soon they would expand their repertoire to include Dylan, Steely Dan, Little Feat, Van Morrison, and more. After self-releasing a cassette album of original material in 1988, they would find a seemingly perfect label fit with Relix Records for their second album, 1990’s Unfamiliar Territory. Featured on that album is a blues number called “Road to Your Heart,” which Relix would dig up when piecing together compilations of blues songs from their own back catalogue. In 1997, “Road to Your Heart” would land on Relix’s Best of the Blues, Volume 2.
Another thing that has enabled Sandoz to maintain their high level of versatility for so long is the fact that most of their members are capable of playing more than one instrument. At the time of this song’s recording, three out of five members were guitar players, including Mark Browning, who also plays the harmonica, and Bill Maruca, who also plays the keyboards. And while “Road to Your Heart” has the same rhythmic sway as any other old piece of electric delta blues, it’s Browning’s harmonica and Maruca’s keyboard work that make it more than just a good song. Browning adds nice bits of creaky blues harp passion to the end of each lyric, but it’s his solo where he shines especially. The same goes for Maruca, too. He switches between piano and organ presets throughout by intermittently providing backing notes and chords, but his improvised solo on the back half of the song is his most remarkable contribution. Plus, the instrumental parts where each member plays simultaneously produce some sweet blues as well.
A sweet blues tune from this veteran Pittsburgh-based band.