The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea Play At Sullivan’s Cove

A close look into Severna Park’s jazziest band.


The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea at Sullivan’s Cove Feb. 17, 2023. “I think we all had a lot of fun.” Jack Slote said.

Colten Billings, Staff Writer

The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is a jazz/funk band consisting of five Severna Park High School students. Starting off as merely an idea in early 2022, the band recently played their first restaurant gig at Sullivan’s Cove on Feb. 17, 2023, with great support from their family, friends and fans.

Bassist Jack Slote and saxophonist Owen Blackburn began talks of a jazz band in the beginning of 2022, however, the idea didn’t go anywhere until much later. Blackburn commented on how difficult it was to find musicians also interested in playing jazz. Soon, Blackburn would meet keyboardist Keith Ivey and guitarist Nicholas Stohler through Cameron Blackburn, Owen Blackburn’s brother and a drummer of six years. Together, they would have their first practice the summer of that same year. Members of the band have also been involved in other notable local bands including Lopsided Chickens, Bastola, and more recently, Ivy League.

The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’s first performance was for SP Cares in October of 2022, in which Page Judge, a senior at Severna Park High School, subbed in for bass guitar when Slote couldn’t make the performance. Soon after, the band would take a short hiatus for the recording of Ivy League’s debut album, “Homecoming.” The jazz group resumed activity again in December, posting clips of their practices on their band’s Instagram account. On Feb. 17 of this year, they played their first restaurant gig at Sullivan’s Cove. The performance lasted three hours with a setlist of 26 songs including their noteworthy covers of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, “Creep” by Radiohead, and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” from the classic children’s show, Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, as well as some of their original songs. The band members all agreed that the show was a great experience.

Though all members of the group have distinct musical backgrounds and influences, they can agree on American jazz artists Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock as influences for The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’s music and sound. Owen Blackburn added American funk band Vulfpeck to the list and Slote jokingly mentioned Canadian rapper Drake.

On the topic of actually playing jazz, the five bandmates gave very distinct perspectives of playing the genre and how they enjoy it.

“I like how harmonically dense jazz is,” Ivey said. “Sometimes the songs are hard to play but I think that’s part of the cool part of it, y’know?

Stohler agreed with Ivey about the difficulty of jazz.

“I think it’s made me a much better guitarist because jazz is really hard on guitar.”

Cameron Blackburn and Slote had a more relaxed stance on playing jazz; Blackburn stated how easy his job is and how he enjoys watching what everyone else does while Slote said he likes to groove.

“Jazz is the coolest genre I think when it comes to saxophone,” Owen Blackburn said. “There’s no other genre that really creates the synergy between the players that jazz does.”

The five of them plan on doing more gigs in the future and in the meantime will continue practicing for future shows.