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 'Atlanticana' - 'successfully mixing roots and soft rock from both sides of the pond'

 "Phoenix River Band’s music is original, not heavy or pop, but a potent mix of original songs with driving beats and soulful melodies - like cruising in a Cadillac with Chris Rea at the wheel with Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers in the back, and maybe some Eagles flying overhead"


Under the all Seeing Eye - Phoenix River Band - review by Brian Inglis, Jelli Records, Bristol, August 2021
'The Phoenix River Band is a Bristol band that seems to fly under the radar despite having opened for an impressive roster of established bands', so said Listomania’s Charlie Dunlap. I don’t think I could have put it better, this band is consistently good at what they do yet fail to reach the audiences they so richly deserve. We haven’t heard much from the band due mainly to the Covid pandemic so this album should whet your appetites.

It contains fourteen tracks of live performance and all of their most popular songs. For the uninitiated Chris Melhuish is the leader of the band and for the most part writes the material.

He describes the bands style of music as ‘Atlanticana’ which is a mix of Country Rock, Blues and Rock, with influences from Pink Floyd, Chris Rea and the Allman Brothers so a great pedigree.
This is definitely a band you need to see, but if you can’t then do the next best thing and buy this ‘Live Album’. You can do this at and also find out more about them.

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Phoenix River Band @ Bath Fringe, Old Theatre Royal, Bath
Thursday, May 30, 2019

"Six guys with grey, if not white, hair took the stage with two young women at their side in backup singer position — and proceeded to blow the sizeable audience away with their rhythm, drive, soul and perfection. It was a testament to the advantages of experience.

The Phoenix River Band is a Bristol band that seems to fly under the radar despite having opened for an impressive roster of established bands. Perhaps it’s because the genre they inhabit is the somewhat unfashionable land of bluesy country rock.

The Phoenix River Band is led by and centred around Chris Melhuish, who writes the songs, for the most part sings them, and plays some pretty mean blues-infused guitar. He’s a genial front man and, by the look of it, a hell of a bandleader. He has assembled not just a band of veterans, but a band of the best veterans. The rhythm section of drummer Dave Dunster and bassist Mike Pitt are the heart and soul of this outfit, worth the price of admission on their own. Dunster is a dynamic groove machine whose time is so spot-on he’d make a metronome seem sloppy. Mike Pitt’s bass locks in with the drums perfectly, a bit of a lost art, that. The power of these two is greater than the sum of it parts.

Keyboardist Andy Allpass may have been hidden behind a pillar but his organ and piano were definitely integral to the band, his playing, like all of them, tasteful and very expert. Guitarist Syd Riley, in apparently his last gig with the band, turned in some nicely fluid solos that contrasted with Melhuish’s cutting, Albert King-like style. They both played the twin lead guitar thing à la Wishbone Ash flawlessly.

And the girls, Jo Melhuish and Shelley Dunster (yes, daughters of the band), were a great and rare contribution, something you’d usually have to go to a Rolling Stones concert to witness. They blended nicely in harmony and Jo sang lead a few times with a very soulful voice.

But the centre of this was Chris Melhuish. The strength of his songs, rooted in the songwriting ethos of the 60s and 70s, were the lyrics that fit his plaintive tales like a glove. They played almost all the songs from their 2016 album Empty Road and their 2018 ep Lights but a few stood out: 'Pray For Rain',  'Ashes', 'Don’t Do It Again' were some. All were delivered in Chris’ lightly gruff-tinged voice, at times sounding like a milder Joe Cocker… the thing about Chris, you might think he sounds like some singer from that period but, in truth, he doesn’t. He may sound like the period, but like no one but himself.
I’ve listened to the recorded material and liked it very much, but this is a band that shines live. Buy their albums, for sure, but definitely see them live.
Charley Dunlap - Listomania

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