“Hailing from Lansing, MI, Root Doctor plays with an unbridled, soulful passion that
justifies the title of their latest album. A 20-year fixture on the underappreciated Lansing
music scene, Root Doctor is headed up by big-voiced frontman Freddie Cunningham,
who sings for the audience, not at them; the man can flat-out deliver a song. However,
Freddie is not the only major talent in Root Doctor: bassist James Williams (whose late
brother Lamar played with the Allman Brothers and Sea Level), is a master of booming
bass lines, while drummer Bobby Gardner lays down a groove a mile wide. Keyboardist Mike Skory’s playing is pure sweetness, while Bill Malone adds a perfect balance with
his gritty, aggressive guitar work. These guys are consummate pros for sure.
....If you enjoy music with a big-sounding combo of R&B, funk and old school rock, then Joy is right up your alley.”
"Joy" is filled with groovy, soul-styled workouts. "Dark Eyes," launches off with a rocking, electrifying jam that leads into a catchy chorus and Cunningham querying, "Dark Eyes, why you chasing me?"
From the raring and rollicking "Last Call" to the plaintive "Live for Yourself," Cunningham's gritty and confident voice - able to wrangle every nuance from any lyric - couples perfectly with Root Doctor's fiery instrumentation. Layers of horns, keyboards and guitars dance with his vocals, thanks to an A-list band of players that includes James Williams (bass), Bill Malone (guitar), Mike Skory (keyboards) and Bob Gardner (drums). Malone's six-string work is sugary smooth, Skory's keys personality-packed and Gardner and Williams' rhythm section groovin'.
One album highlight - and there are many - is the hidden track "It's Cold Outside (And You Ain't Going Nowhere)," which features strong alto vocals from Lansing-based folk singer Jen Sygit and a 1920s sound.
“James Williams is the consummate "big note" bass player. You won't find him diddling away up on the neck looking for attention, he knows he has a higher calling, making people MOVE.
Freddie Cunningham is a true ambassador of Lansing's untouchable vibe. The combination of pain and joy delivered with deep commitment is what people can't get enough of.
Mike Skory's keyboard playing always had a relaxed intensity to it. Check his piano playing on "Use This Love." Listen to his B3 playing on "Detroit City," what a beautiful gospel feel he lays down.
Bobby Gardner is a particularly tasty drummer who still retains a "take no prisoners" mentality.
Bill Malone brings a little Detroit grit to the band. His guitar playing is syrupy smooth, but don't be fooled, he can tear it up at a moment's notice. Check him out on "Heavenly Love" or "Live for Yourself," what a tone!
Root Doctor is the real deal. Enjoy.
Abridged version of liner notes on "Joy"
“Review of Joy-
Thoughtful experience and expression mixed with great musicians is what you get from these Root Doctor tracks. If perfection of capturing all of the influences from seasoned musicians is what you understand then you will understand this recording. It definitely came together!”
Folks, if you love good R&B with a great soul singer and a top notch road tested band, get this record. No silly over-the-top posturing here, just GOOD blues and soul, the kind that made you love it in the first place.”
CD baby review of Change our Ways
“Root Dr is COOL
This is some of the best listening music you will find Combining covers and well written Original songs. Crafty guitar sounds, B3 you will love and warm meaning full vocals The real soul comes from a dynamic duo bass and drums always doing it correctly and a dance able groove These young people can swing cook and rock I thoroughly both of there CD offerings
CD baby review
“...But the real story here is Freddie Cunningham. Anyone who thinks old
school soul died with Otis Redding need only give a listen to
Freddie's cover of the Temptation's "I Wish it Would Rain." Freddie's
vocals, combined with Jim Alfredson's arrangement, discover the
despairing emotional content of the lyrics only hinted at in the
original. Feeling bad never sounded so good.
"Change Our Ways" is one of my favorite releases of 2007 and should go
a long way toward bringing Root Doctor the national recognition the
band so richly deserves.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands”
Host of the Blues Blowout Pirate Radio WIVI 96.1 FM
“Root Doctor has a sterling soul-blues entry with Change Our Ways (Big O 2407).
Freddie Cunningham's faultless vocals are at the center of the songs awash
in Jim Alfredson's piano and Hammond Organ, seasoned with Greg Nagy's crisp
guitar, and buoyed by the right-on rhythms of James Williams and Rick Bole.
The band energizes well-selected material by the Meters, the Allman Brothers Band,
the Temptations, and Roy Hytower ("Root Doctor"), and pens excellent originals
such as "Big Blue Cadillac," the funky, upbeat "Blues Will Take Good Care Of You,"
the Delbert McClinton-esque "Give Me Love," and the deep soul ballad "Lucky One."
Terrific performances and production bring it all to life.
"...I really like it [Change Our Ways]. The musical setting is really tasty and better than just solid, a sweet churchy/bluesy R & B sound. I especially like the title tune...It's an excellent CD..."
Producer and Historian
"Been A Long Time Coming"--the New CD by Root Doctor was worth the wait! Root Doctor propels the listener into that steamy realm of the Great Blues/Soul/Funk Sound of the 60's and 70's. It's drenched in Deep Groove and Inspiration. Solid Vocals by Freddie Cunningham with Greg Nagy's fine guitarwork is propelled even further by the "funky as hell" Hammond and Keyboard work from Jim Alfredson. Greg even shows his vocal talent on one tune. Terrific voice, indeed. Thick, Thumpin' Bass from James Williams with Matt Hayes workin' the Drumkit drives Root Doctor through 12 tracks of Smokey Soul-Blues & Flat Gettin' Down. Pulling the Mojo from Root Doctor's bag----is just the right prescription for all your CD ills ! Really Good CD ! Great release!
Oldies Unlimited and Blues Rocket Music
“Been a Long Time Coming CD review...
A Real Band!
Something that is sorely missing into soul and blues music today: a real band with a creative and unique sound. The samples here don't do this cd justice. Amazing interplay among the musicians, stellar arrangements, tremendously genuine vocals, and a warm recorded sound. I heard these guys on the radio while driving home from work. They were doing a live in studio appearance on Mitch Albom's show (the Tuesdays With Morrie guy). Mitch seemed blown away by these guys.. he said something along the lines of "we get a lot of bands in here, and to be honest most times it is just business as usually...but these guys are amazing!" Highly recommended!!”
CD baby review
“Been a Long Time Coming
I have a lot of Blues CD's. This CD is my favorite. I've seen and heard Root Doctor several times and never tire of their awesome sound. Everyone should buy this CD and add it to their Blues collection. I'm looking forward to getting Root Doctor's next CD - "Change Our Ways". I heard their version of "Soul Shine" at the Eastwood Mall this summer and just for that song, I will buy this CD.
CD baby review
“I was impressed with this disc the first time I heard it and my listeners apparently agree. Been getting calls for Last Two Dollars and Too Late to Try to do Right since the first time I played them on the air. Solid groove, soulful vocals and great songs. This disc has it all. Freddie Cunningham may be the best soul blues vocalist working today.
Pirate Radio WIVI 96.1 FM
“... Been A Long Time Coming is a beautifully executed project, from the performances to the repertoire and production. Balancing traditional blues with soul and even prewar country blues material (Greg Nagy's John Hammond–inspired reading of Willie Brown's Mississippi Blues), Root Doctor emerges here as the consummate working band, worthy of any festival or club audiences' attention.
Freddie Cunningham is an authoritative blues singer whose voice wavers and perforates like a hard-nosed version of Bobby Bland. This is delightfully apparent during straight soul numbers like the Brook Benton hit Rainy Night In Georgia and a powerhouse read-through of Leo Graham's Turning Point, a strong composition made popular in 1975 by Tyrone Davis. On the latter track, as with most of the R&B material, the Sofa King Horns form a brass stronghold as robust as any performing traditional soul today.
Living Blues Magazine
"...Fun, energetic, and soulful, their music is a promise to rhythm and blues that what is past is as close as the present: traditional does not have to be complacent.