So Long, Sisters: Valley blues group Sistah Blue to play its last show May 22

By Niki D'Andrea

After 13 years together, the ladies of Phoenix blues group Sistah Blue have announced they will play their last show on Thursday, May 22, at the Rhythm Room.

Sistah Blue

Known for doing a mix of funk and soul-inflected blues originals and covers of blues classics during shows, Sistah Blue always had a smooth sound -- they played the kind of blues not borne of raw emotion or vagabond destitution, but eloquent soul and mature musicianship. Pieces of the group's eclectic influences -- James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters, Etta James, War -- are audible in its songs, but as more of a melded musical patchwork, rather than a straight-up sonic imitation.

Over the years, Sistah Blue has garnered many accolades. The group is a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, and took second place in the International Blues Competitions in Memphis -- twice. The individual members of the band -- vocalist/harmonica player Rochelle Raya, guitarist Nancy Dalessandro (formerly of local barn burners Rocket 88s), drummer Janet Daniels, and singer Lila Sherman -- have all played with various local blues and soul outfits over the years, and in the case of Sherman, become solo divas on the side. The group's sole male member, bassist Terry Davis, joined within the past year -- just in time to say goodbye, it seems.

"We have been together for 13 years, gone through many changes, and still managed to keep going strong," the band writes on its Web site. "Now it seems that we as individuals have less time and energy to devote to the band and to keep things fresh. It's not fair to our fans nor good for ourselves to not keep growing and inspired. Some of us may go on with other bands or put together something new. We each will probably continue to perform in some capacity, but there are no definite plans right now."

Sistah Blue's farewell performance takes place Thursday, May 22, at the Rhythm Room. The show starts at 8 p.m., and admission costs $15. The show will also be recorded, and fans can pre-order the live CD at the farewell show.

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