Roman Street Wednesdays

During this period of staying at home and changing habits, new habits emerge. For example, on Wednesday morning for the past few weeks, I have awakened with the song “Rio San Juan” from the Roman Street album, Caravan, playing in my head (http://www.romanstreet.com). Roman Street, the Mobile Bay-based jazz guitar duo of brothers Josh and Noah Thompson, has commenced a series of “Quarantine Jams” from Josh’s dining room every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. CDT on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Roman-Street).

I have followed Roman Street for several years now. I first learned about the band through a chance meeting in the Quiet Room at the Grand Hotel spa in Point Clear. When Noah went back for his spa treatment, Josh and I struck up a conversation in which he told me that they were locally-based musicians. He had an infectious enthusiasm and I was inspired to check out the band.

Later that day, I looked up Roman Street’s website and discography and realized that Roman Street has performed around the world, got part of their musical training in Europe, and have had singles on the Billboard charts over the years. The next night, at a dinner party in Fairhope, I asked a local musician about Roman Street and he assured me that they are “the real deal.” I was embarrassed that I was just learning about them.

Since then, I have seen the band in concert a couple of times and have followed their progression through guitar-based albums with an impressive cast of guest and semi-regular musicians. Roman Street is comfortable in a variety of styles and defies categories, although ‘smooth jazz” and “jazz fusion” often come to mind. Their music is dominated by original compositions along with an occasional cover. Like most performers, their live performance schedule is currently on hold due to the pandemic.

I have caught most of the “Quarantine Jams.” So far, Roman Street has devoted each program to playing through their albums in order, commenting as they go and bantering with the comments of their audience on texts and the Facebook page. This week (May 13), they completed their discography tour with the freshly released album Balcony of the World. Even though they have caught up with their albums, the jams will continue over the next several weeks with a session of audience-requested cover arrangements scheduled for Wednesday, May 20.

I plan to be watching and listening.

The weekly Wednesday jams have become appointment listening for me. Roman Street’s brand of music that is both energetic and mellow has become my companion on frequent drives between north Alabama and Birmingham.

They are, indeed, the “real deal.”

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