Few women have played lead guitar in blues bands, and even fewer African-American women have, so Deborah Coleman's success is noteworthy for demographic reasons alone. On her third album, "Where Blue Begins," the Virginia Beach bandleader proves her respectable command of all three facets of her career -- guitar playing, songwriting and singing. She's exceptional in none of the three, however, and there's little in the music to distinguish her from dozens of similar blues-rock, bar-band singers.
On "Where Blue Begins," Coleman is backed by the late Luther Allison's studio and touring band. This quartet lends a crisp, clean backing to Coleman's smoky alto and her Buddy Guy-influenced solos. Those solos, though, never achieve much speed or invention, and the only song to rise above the generic is Louis Jordan's vintage jump-blues number, "They Raided the Joint." When Coleman tries to blend blues and funk, as on the opening track "Love Moves Me," she matches cliches from each camp rather than crafting something new.
Appearing Friday at Lewie's with the Thrillseekers. To hear a free Sound Bite from Deborah Coleman, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8121. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)