For my money it’s the side stages at any festival that present the most surprise. Such was the case at this year’s Hot August Blues Festival. Annapolis, MD based band, Sweet Leda, rocked the crowd from the get go of their set. Just as last year’s festival provided for me the discovery of heavy funksters Higher Hands [also from Annapolis], Sweet Leda was this year’s delightful find for me. I am convinced now that the Maryland state capitol and venerable home of the Naval Academy has become the breeding ground for bands that lay down deep grooves and play with much soul. Something in the water perhaps? In any case Sweet Leda led by vocalist Julie Cymek’s distinctive voice brought it strong on Saturday. Distinctive? Think Adele mixed with Mary J. Blige with a certain South Of The Mason-Dixon Line ache that’s all her own.

”Juls” led the band through a tight set that featured songs off the band’s inaugural CD  Need The Music. Highlights tracks for me were “What I Need” which leads off the record and “Let Her Love Her”. ”Let Her Love Her” is a specifically meaningful piece that deals with the difficulty  in being a same sex couple. On the CD the song features an excellent rap interlude provided by Jason Crawford, the lead singer of the aforementioned Higher Hands. During the live performance on Saturday the rap was excellently performed by Julie’s husband and Sweet Leda bassist, Jaime Horrigan. Yes folks, TedeschiTrucks was not the only husband wife duo laying it down at the festival on Saturday. Omar El Dieahy on guitar and Don Bayette on drums make up the rest of Sweet Leda. For their set on Saturday the band was augmented by a horn section and keyboards.

I listened to the CD in the car on the way home and it made my trip north on 83 quite the funky ride. There is not a bad song on it. I recommend you get one for your own ride, house party or whatever. You will not be disappointed. Look for Sweet Leda at a club near you and oh, by the way, Lovely Molly the new film by Blair Witch creator Eduardo Sanchez, Sweet Leda is on the closing credits performing the title song “Lovely Molly”. Very cool.