CD Reviews: 5 Hot Releases Just Made For Summertime

Well the temp hit the 90 degree mark here in balmy Rochester, NY – the official end of winter and unofficial start of summer. With summer comes travel, relaxing, hanging out with old friends and making new ones. With that in mind this I offer a fairly substantial collection of releases that should be on your summer music list. There’s quite a few so take your time and digest them as you will, remember they are always here for your pleasure.

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R Adventures)

With the first cut ‘Slow Train’ Mr. Bonamassa sets the stage for a cloyingly hot and beautifully descriptive release. As the recreated chugging of the train picks up pace and moves down the line, picking up hitchhikers in the form of deep soulful vocals and eloquent guitar work, we chug along to the final stop where we encounter the ‘new world’ of the ‘Dust Bowl’.
Wonderful ‘spaghetti western’ guitar tones announce our arrival – here we are treated to an empty world where all we “get is indecision – the classic run around”. Layers of sound created by hand percussion, keyboard, drums and guitar fills the space with an amazing understanding of the subject matter.

Joe does not do it alone – he features John Hiatt (Tennessee Plates), Vince Gill (Sweet Rowena), and Glenn Hughes (Heartbreaker). His work with Mr. Hiatt is especially joyful, it seems almost at odds to the feel of the release, yet it has it’s place in the overall picture. Fun, rocking and gotta get away feel takes us on the joy ride on this Cadillac with Tennessee plates. ‘Sweet Rowena’ is a solid blues shuffle that Mr.’s Gill and Bonamassa trade vocals and guitar licks that shows both their versatility and urges us to re-think the industry imposed ‘genres’ or categories of music that seem to keep us apart more than bring us together. Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze and Deep Purple, is now part of Black Country Communion, Mr. Bonamassa’s other musical band. They keep alive the heavy guitar, head banging tradition of their roots with a stinging cover of the Paul Rodgers/Free song ‘Heartbreaker’

This is another fine album by Joe and in it he shows his absolute mastery of the guitar. There is not a current style that he cannot get his head and hands around – and make it his own. I wonder why he is seemingly not as well know as some other guitar players. His playing, technique and understanding of the sound and art of his instrument is unparalleled, and I urge you to take another (or first) listen to this young man.

JP Soars: More Bees with Honey (Soars High Productions)

I firmly believe that the first cut on a release should set the stage for what follows – so it better be a grabber. Mr. Soars understands this, ‘More Bees With Honey’ does just that, featuring Ms. Robin Rogers working the vocal hive with JP in an up-tempo swinging rollick thru the old adage that our parents, no doubt, told us repeatedly.
Mr. Soars vocals are certainly unique. Gritty, coarse but spot on, they hold a certain throw-back feel that the blues has always had, and at times forgets. On ‘So Many Times’ Mr. Soars sings of tears gone dry and the release of a, yet again, unfaithful lover. This is set up in a standard slow blues format featuring some nicely constructed guitar work over the backdrop of Travis Colby’s keyboard work.

JP covers a wide range of styles here, from a funky, wah-wah laced ‘Doggin’ , to a west coast swing, tempo shifting burner ‘Hot Little Woman’, that extols the virtues of this special type of woman. I am not quite sure if the tongue is in the cheek or not, but it’s cool either way !
An interesting cover of Louisiana Red’s ‘Sweet Blood Call’ reminds us that the Blues was created in a less than perfect life, and that some of the lyrics are not as PC as we may like. JP does some nasty guitar work as he drives us around the back roads of the Blues as they used to be. I think this song shows us the link between hip-hop, rap and the Blues quite nicely. Listen to the lyrics, and then maybe listen to some Muddy Waters and others to realize the propinquity of these seemingly unrelated styles. The final cut here is ‘Where’d You Stay Last Night’ a great adaption of ‘Baby Face’ Leroy Foster lyrics, and music by JP. This one takes us home and leaves us wanting more.

On this release Mr. Soars selects from his hive of influences including Johnny Guitar Watson, Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, Stax and Hill Country Blues – and throw in a little bit of heavy metal for spice. JP is one of the exciting young artists in the Blues. He applies modern touches to classic, traditional blues music and is doing a damn good job of it. Oh yeh, go see him if you get the chance, he won’t disappoint.

 To find out more about Leroy Foster –

Lightin’ Malcolm (featuring Cameron Kimbrough): Renegade (Ruf Records)

Here is another fine young Bluesman, and his aptly named new release ‘Renegade’ pretty much sums up his approach and life. As Malcolm says “The songs on this album are definitely the result of years livin’ the renegade lifestyle. The renegade cuts against the grain, doin’ things his own way on his own terms. I’ve always tried to be a right doin’ person, to help people around me…I follow the laws of the universe, not the laws of man…I know right from wrong. Most times your on your own, movin’ from place to place with your guitar and your music..”at the same time interacting, entertaining, jamming, working, helping, teaching, learning, singing, dancing, sleeping, and living with all the people that come through your life. You are what you’ve done and the legacy you leave behind is the life you live everyday.”
Raw, passionate, straight forward blues is what we have here. This release is basically a guitar and drum duo recording featuring Malcolm and Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of of Junior Kimbrough.

Starting with “Ain’t Even Worried’ we hear the truth spoken over a retro-groove/trance feel that demonstrates the variety of what can be done inside the blues. Title track ‘Renegade’ re-establishes the Blues as a visceral genre. Boldly emerging from years of neglect and gentrification, this cut has the pure power to remind us that the jook joints are still alive and thriving, and that we need to frequent them.
There seems to be a deeper understanding of life contained in this release. ‘Guilty Man’ details the trespasses on the road of life. The addition of horns give this cut a groove without overshadowing it’s baser instincts, a very nice job here. Got to mention ‘My Lyin’ Ass’ – a killer cut, funny yet educational as it refers to the simple truth about – his lyin’ ass !

North Mississippi’ is a homage to where he found his true love for the blues. Featuring a catchy rhythm and punctuated by the horn section it also incorporates a rap vocal overlay by Mr. J Grubbz. I believe Mr. Malcolm has gone a long way to bring the Hill Country music into the twenty-first century, making it vital to a new generation of artists and fans alike. It’s unique, contemporary, minimalist with overtones of surf music but still harkening back to the traditional never losing sight of it’s roots.

Better Off Dead: Girls Guns and Money (GarageLand)

With a release cover that takes me back to the tawdry twenty-five cent detective novels of my childhood, how could I NOT like this release. Well, I still haven’t gotten tired of it, and it’s got 28 cuts on the disc ! Only one cover here, that is ‘God Will‘ by Lyle Lovett, the rest are from the prolific fingers and somewhat bent mind of Mr. V.D. King.

First out of the box we are treated to ‘Twister In A Trailer Park’ which equates love to the headlines that we have come to know and love concerning the usual
occurrences of just that, twisters in a trailer park, one would think that they might build them elsewhere, or maybe it’s cause they are there that the twisters find them???  Next up is ‘Bad Credit’,this Tex-Mex romp paints an all too familiar story of our current dilemma. And so it goes, taking us on a road trip thru American Roots Music from ‘Louisiana Hot Sauce’ and ‘Back To Memphis’ stopping at all points in between. As we ride in their ‘Yellow Cadillac’ and head to ‘San Antone’ only to fall in love with a ‘Porn Star’ and have a ‘Chicken Pickin’ Good Time’. Yet ‘One More Time ‘ we are faced with the eternal question ‘What Happened?’. In the end it’s asked ‘If I Can Quit Drinkin’ (Why Can’t I Quit You)’ yet it’s your ‘Rockin’ Daddy’ that will ‘Never Let You Down’ because ‘I Ain’t Gonna Change’ . Even if they claim to be from a ‘Broken Home’, and scream ‘Kaboodle Cock-A-Lulu’ at inappropriate times just ‘Let Your Heart Be The Judge’ on this fun filled romp that should be on your summer music list.

My apologies to Mr. King for paraphrasing some of his brilliant work here, but why try to recreate perfection, and as is the rules in the Blues copying is bad thing, but stealing is accepted. Peace V.D. !

Davina & The Vagabonds: Black Cloud (Roustabout Records)

Awwrite, I just had to add this to the summer music-fest of love I got going here. This is one dynamic release folks. It recalls a time and place where the guitar was NOT the dominant choice of weapons for the Blues masters. Actually the closet thing to a guitar is the stand up bass played by Michael Carvale (and very nicely too I might add). What we get here is  a channelling of sorts back to the classic sounds of New Orleans horn bands –  think early Louis Armstrong meets Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Well, you could add some touches of jazz, soul, swing and a hint of gospel to the mix – yeh that about covers it.

‘Black Cloud’  is a wonderful mix of Broadway arrangement coupled with 1920’s jazz tinged blues, Ms. Sowers vocals ring true here with just enough gruff and sass to create a wonderful picture of words and music.  ‘Start Runnin’ is a open threat to the other woman who is trying to steal Davinas’ beau.  “You better step up, step out or start runnin” pretty much sums up the feeling expressed here in this up beat, rolling horn symphony of Louis Prima jump swing feel.
Not a one dimensional approach to this mound of sound, we are treated to a wonderfull taste of Ms. Sowers sultry despair in “Let’s Bring It Back’  with Dan Eikmeier blowing some down-right rightous trumpet. We then visit what might be termed a classic pop sounding sound (but way better) in Pocket’ . If this cut wasn’t so good it might have a shot at being popular on the commercial end of pop culture, but it is way too good, and actually has shape and form to it, unlike most of the pop pulp out there today.

For the Blues pureists there is one twelve bar compostion contained here, the lasciviously titled ‘Lipstick and Chrome’ which treats us to some quite unforgettable images courtesy of Ms. Sowers lyrics. The other band members who contribute to the great feel of this release include Darren Sterud on trombone, and Conner McRae on drums.
Black Cloud fits nicely into my summer music extravaganza and I do beleive that you will enjoy it too. These good folk are out onthe road some 300 days a year, so if ya get a chance to see them do it !

So there we have my little summer list of music that I think will go great with our summer fun – whether it be on a surf board, or under a boardwalk, night-clubbing or just sittin’ on the back porch diggin’ it. Any or all of these releases will please ya like a cold one at 11:00 AM on a hot July morning. And no need to check the can to know if they’re cool enough, they are, take my word for it!

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
© 2011

photos: courtesy of artists.

CD Reviews: Old Friends, New Releases

Spring is here, at least for the moment, so it’s time to take stock and go thru closets and sort things out that matter. So what I have done for these reviews is to take some artists who, for whatever reasons, are considered ‘old friends’. I may have been listening some to them for years, or known them for a good spell of time. With that in mind, I’m reviewing their new releases and enjoy the comfort they bring, but also the excitement that they provide in their new works. I hope you too, will pick up on some of this and maybe they will become ‘new friends’ to you.

Tracy Nelson: Victim Of The Blues (Delta Groove)
Possessing a signature voice that seems to shine with the ligfht of truth, regardless of genre or niche, Ms. Nelson is qualified as an old friend to me. From her early days in 1964 with the release of ‘Deep Are the Roots‘ and through to her forming of the band, Mother Earth, Ms. Nelson has set a standard for female vocalists that still holds sway today.

Victim of the Blues‘ opens with the Willie Dixon cut ‘You’ll Be Mine‘ a rolling piano provided by Jimmy Pugh, that is matched in it’s intensity by Mike Henderson on gutiar and we hear THAT VOICE – unmistakable, full of intent purpose as she dictates the line ‘you’ll be mine’ leaving no doubt about the outcome of this situation.

Ms. Nelson offers up interpretations of some songs fromn the ancestral tree of the Blues: Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Lightin’ Hopkins and Ma Rainey. But one that caught my ear is the incredible song by Mr. Earl Thomas, ‘Lead A Horse To Water‘, In her liner notes she states her love for the song when she ffirst heard and acknowledges her surprise when she learned that it was from a contemporary artist and not written back in the day. This song is a favorite of mine by Mr. Thomas, and Ms. Nelson infects it with a touch of gospel and deep rooted soul as she calls and is answered by Mr. James ‘Nick’ Nixon. Add to that some swampy slide guitars out to a first rate version of a top notch song. Thank you for singing this !

The title cut is a Ma Rainey tune, and as with every release, Ms. Neslon includes a song by Ms. Rainey or Ms. Bessie Smith, two of her earliest influences. In 2010 Ms. Nelson lost practically everything in a fire at her 100+ year old farm house near Nashville, wherein the local Fire Department said they could save just one room, she choose the studio. This album somehow survived that fire and it is aptly titled – her rendition of the tune is more of a confession and release of all that has occurred up to this point.

Ms. Nelson has some outstanding guests contained within this release. Ms. Angela Strehli offering up advice in ‘Howlin’ For My Baby’, Ms. Marcia Ball combining vocals and her unmistakable piano style on ‘Shoot My Baby’. Not to mention Ms. Reba Russell on background vocals (how good is that )? The final cut which was made famous by Ms. Irma Thomas ‘Without Love’ is such a soul stirring and uplifting version as Mr. John Cowan adds his superb voice in a vocal duet that takes us out of the dark and shows us the true light that shines for and in us all.

Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans: Traveling Fool (ManHatTone)
With his third release, Brad and his Vestapolitans take us back to the days when the road was king, music simpler and made for joy, and rock and roll was young and fresh. From the first notes of the title cut ‘Traveling Fool’, you are drawn in and made a comfortable partner, riding shotgun in this musical excursion. The Vestapolitans are named after the open Vestapol tuning, and they show that there are legions of super sounds available in open tunings that you just cannot achieve in regular tuning. Brad features a very special guest in the person of  Bobby Radcliff a guitar player who is so tough that it has been said he should carry, and pass out meat tenderizer with him at gigs. Mr. Radcliff add some very tasty and tender licks in his appearances on this release. Another guest is Mr. V.D. King on guitar who adds an uncanny knack for capturing era-sensitive and kick ass licks to two songs here. Brad offers an up-tempo version of the Sonny Terry classic, ‘Diggin’ My Potatoes’, which is a rollicking jaunt through the back roads complete with feet swinging to the beat while trying to maintain vertical on the running boards.

What Mr. Vickers and his band offer us is fun. Yes, a good time mix of eleven originals and four interpretations that span blues, ragtime, rock & roll and American roots music, materfully produced b whiz-kid Dave Gross. Each cut is strong, and are different enough to show you the versatility of this fine band. ‘Uh-Oh’, an original by Mr. Vickers, had my darling bride doing the frug, swim and looking for her go-go boots. What might very well be my adopted song for South Carolina (where I split my time) is by Ms. Margey Peters called ‘Skeeter Song’. A fine blend of saxophone punctuations, and rolling piano is a segue to an killer acoustic solo by Mr. Radcliff, all building to a fun ending that makes it right for all (‘cept the skeeter).

Two fine interpretations are the J.B. Lenoir ‘Low Down Dirty Shame’, and the classic Leroy Carr ‘How Long Blues’ take us to the final cut “Rockabilly Rumble’ which harkens back to the days when the saxophone was yielding to the electric guitar as the king of instruments.

In his liner notes Brad thanks Rosco Gordon, Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, and others who Mr. Vickers has played with over the years, and he has learned so well from them, in this release he expresses and demonstrates a deep understanding of music and styles and they would be damn proud of this release.

Tas Cru: Jus’ Desserts (Crustee Tees Records)
Dubbed the ‘master of the triple entendre’, Mr. Cru offers life lessons to us with a certain flair that resonates deep. His ‘triple threat’ skills at songwriting, guitar playing and soulfull singing make him one of upstate New York’s jewels.
With his latest release Tas serves up a piping hot, eleven course meal of original songs for those of us who enjoy our blues with a literate twist. Opening with a nice down homey groove ‘Just Let It Happen‘ which extolls the virtues of learning to ‘just lettin’ things be’. This is so true. To reinforce this thought he offers us some tasty acoustic slide guitar by Jeremy Walz, that will get the point to you if you haven’t gotten it already.

Glad To Be Alive‘, is a nice jazz-tinged shuffle in which extolls the virtues of his baby and how she makes him so glad to be alive. This is a nice cut as it is electric and I am more accustomed to Mr. Cru’s acoustic work. A nice helping of straight up blues work is mixed in the cut ‘Eau De ‘Nother Man‘ which is a story about fragrances or scents that we all carry with us, and tell-tale other scents that can give ones transgressions away. This is prime Tas Cru writing, slick, funny, but spot on. All the Tas tunes are tasty but I have special fondness for ‘My GPS Mama’, and title track ‘Jus’ Desserts’ where Tas demonstrates his under-rated skills at harp playing. Mr. Cru is more than a funny singer-songwriter, true he does use humor and wit in his songwriting, but the message and depth of his music is more than strong enough to stand up to close examination. Jus’ Desserts offers us a toe tapping, laid back, thoroughly enjoyable release that will keep you coming back for more. Do check him and his releases out.

We are coming up fast on the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, May 5th, so that will involve travel and a gathering of the tribes for the week. Looking forward to seeing everyone and spending some quality time hanging out, catching up and listening/seeing some of the very best Blues artists. To see more about the Blues Music Awards you can visit this link and while you are there consider joining the Blues Foundation – read about all the good they do for the musician’s, the Blues in Schools, the H(andy) A(rtist) R(elief) F(und) and so much more. You can join for as little as $25 USD, and youths
(14-20) can join for free.

Until next time,

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,

photos: courtesy of Artists
© 2011

At Home With The Blues-NYC Style

It is not often that one gets to ‘go home’, and it is even less likely that one gets to go back on their own terms. I was quite fortunate to be able to accomplish this bi-fecta (hah bet ya didn’t see that coming). On March 20, 2011 Big City Blues Magazine held a celebration of Spring at Kenny’s Castaways in Greenwich Village. It was a celebration of what might have been the birthplace of the folk revival, which in turn spawned talented musicians who have shaped our lives thru the decades and still do now.

Did I hear disbelief amongst you? John Hammond, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Maria Muldaur, Rory Block, more, The Holmes Brothers, The Lovin’ Spoonful, some guy named Bob Dylan. I’ll stop there, but you can do some research on it if you are still not believing, or wish to go deep on this. Check out the links at the end of story.

I grew up in NYC back in the 60’s, and goodness me, there was a revolution going on in the city long before it hit the media and press corps. The music was changing, it seemed like, overnight, Mr. John Sebastian recalled a night he was playing at Gerdies Folk City to a crowd of finger-tapping beatniks, when at the front of the house was but one, long haired girl, dancing what was soon to become the iconic dance of a generation. John, and Zal Yanovsky looked at each other on stage and mutually hoped she would return with her friends. She did. Within days the crowd had changed, gone were the beatniks whose understated coolness disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and they were replaced by ladies dancing to the music, becoming one with the groove and thus leading to the next great movement of American music.

All of this took place in and around Greenwich Village, a.k.a. ‘the Village’ which historically has been known to be the cultural center for Bohemian lifestyles. This has been the case since the earliest part of the 20th century when free (unaffiliated) small presses, art galleries and experimental theater thrived. By the late 1950’s it had become the spot for alternative theater. Known as ‘off-off Broadway’ it was in reaction to Broadway and Off  Broadway which seemed all the same and mundane at best. But quite possibly it’s influence on music then and now is it’s claim to fame.

Enough of the history but I felt I needed to put into perspective how vital and influential it was to be growing up in NYC at the on-set of the musical and cultural revolution that ran from the 50’s thru the 70’s, and may be alive again in the Village. I say this because on this past First day of Spring I was treated to an unprecedented display of some of the most powerful Blues performers in the five boroughs and at least three adjoining states could provide, all at legendary music club, Kenny’s Castaway’s.

‘With a ‘3PM till . . . ?’ notice rakishly taped on the front door, I wandered in about 2:30 to say hi and claim a spot in front from which Leslie and I could do our thing. We felt we needed to be up front because we really only knew one or two of the performers and wanted to be sure to get the full frontal experience from the bands. There were some folks hanging around both in the club and on stage, shuffling about and seemingly starting to feel the edge creep in, when suddenly the stage erupts into a fierce number by the Michael Packer Band that left everyone slack-jawed and wondering what just happened. With a sly grin on his face, Mr. Packer steps to the microphone and wryly states the obvious ‘Good Morning’. Ohh-ohh, I think it’s time to hit the adult beverage concession cos it’s gonna be a hell-raiser. As if in step with my thoughts, Eddie Jackson steps away from the percussion and gives us what might have been the anthem for the day/night ‘Back At That Bar Again‘.

Now that’s pretty scary – this was the FIRST band. Our music coordinator for the event was Dave Fields, and let me say now, that he did an amazing job of keeping the musical threads in line. There were 14 (give or take 2 or 3) bands that would play for this day and never was there a hitch in the fabric. Mr. Fields would have made a fine ‘shnayder’ which is Yiddish for tailor (or from the Germanic Schneider). Mr. Tailor, errh, Fields, took the stage and formed a patchwork coalition of a band with some of his regular players, and various friends and entertained the crowd with so much energy and excitement. He ripped into a bluesy version of Zeppelin’s Black Dog. A special visitor had arrived during Dave’s set, Mr. Pat St. John from Sirius/XM and WCBS-FM radio. Pat is a legend in NYC music, having been a D(isc)J (now a Digital J) from the beginning of alternative/free-form radio with such classic stations as WPLJ and WNEW FM. Pat was thrilled to see Dave do some good Jewish Blues, and was ‘verklempt’ over the ‘Rabbi Blues‘ which Dave wrote and performs regularly to foot stomping Hora processions thru-out the land. Part of his ‘entourage’ was vocalist and energizer bunny Ms. Nikki Armstrong who gave new meaning to the old Hambone Willie Newbern song ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin‘ ‘. Ms. Armstrong has co-authored several songs with Mr. Fields and they seem very comfortable on stage with each other. I must say that whenever Dave plays one never knows what he will pull out of his bag of tricks, a truly entertaining performer and quite exceptional musician, in my book.

An import from the Motor City was Luther ‘Badman’ Keith, whose guitar slinging and vocals were reminiscent of what the Motor City made famous. POWER. Sporting a street legal, modified guitar and a voice that reflected tones of Gas, Tires and Oil (the GTO in GTO) Mr. Keith to me would have been a better player than Eminem for that Detroit is coming back commercial from the super bowl. More real, more believable and way more plausible than a posturing wanna be could ever be.

The harp hit was Mikey Jr, and the Stone Cold Blues Band. Hard hitting, genuine, and fun are all words that you can apply here. Mikey can get some serious tone on his harps. whether they be diatonic or chromatic. His songs are witty, yet poignant and this guy knows how to command a stage, brothers and sisters. A solid band are the Stone Cold’s, but the guitar player, young Mr. Matt Daniels looks like a rising star, oh yeh cool shoes Matt !

At about 6:20 or so, we all were exposed to the Alexis P. Suter Band. Holy crap people ! A seven piece band featuring Ms. Alexis P. Suter as the lead vocalist, Ms.’s Vicki Bell & Linda Pino offering much more than background vocals, Bennie Harrison (keys) Peter Bennett (bass) Ray Grappone (drums) and sitting in Arthur Neilson (Shemeika Copeland) on guitar. Man were we ever un-prepared for this band’s performance. Stunning baritone notes ring from Ms. Suters’ diaphragm, as the ladies accompany her and fill in the cracks with soulful harmonies and stylistic shouts and moans. Each band member contributes to this effort, they seem almost as one giant quaking construct of the music itself. They are currently touring and will be releasing their new album in April.

The event’s honorees The Holmes Brothers received the ‘Happy To have The Blues’ Award from Jr., and Sugar. The running gag for the day was we were all ‘Holmes brothers’ and when they took the stage for a few unplanned numbers we certainly to a person ‘happy to have the blues’.

For fear of over staying my welcome inside your eyes and brains, dear readers, I will quickly touch on one or two more things that stood out for me. Believe me I could do just what I did above for every act from the show – they were all that good. That being said, Mr. Bill Sims working with a broken string early in his set, proceeds to remind us that the Blues is made for a guitar, bass and drums and that it draws influences from everywhere. To the point, his breaking out a bluesy version of Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’.

Bobby Radcliff pouring his heart and soul into this set, backed by Brad Vickers on bass. Blue-eyed soul indeed.

Big Ed Sullivan attacking his nicely worn guitar with a half filled Budwsier beer bottle (I knew Bud had to be good for something) and using it as a slide and pick, then him and Dave Fields battling it out in ‘king of the hill’ fashion on guitars. Lest we forget the ever on the spot, right there when you need him Mr. David Keyes on the ….keys !

The aforementioned Arthur Neilson, just tearing the place apart with his hi-powered, talent laden guitar work. Did you know he was the lead guitarist for Blue Angel ? Yeah Cyndi Laupers’ original band…..just sayin’…..He tore through his original composition ‘Fenderbender’ and then moved right into Pipeline, hottdamn. Currently Arthur is with the Shemeika Copeland band.

Ok so here we are in the village listening to Blues and who should appear on the stage (another one of those who they heck are they) but Better Off Dead ???? It was like Nick Lowe, Dave Edmonds, Conway Twitty, Carl Perkins and Dashiell Hammett collided and this is what was formed. That’s a good thing ! Appearing as a four man band toweringly led by (great name) V.D. King (told ya) on vocals and guitar, assisted by Don Kenny on guitar (lead) and vocals, these guys just jumped the place and when they ended everyone was wondering what hit them. They are the undisputed demented dukes of musical mayhem from Jersey City, check them out.

For me the true telling of the tale came to light when Brad Vickers and The Vestapolitans came on stage. Featauring Margey Peters on bass, and vocals and a licorice stick/saxaphone artist who just thrills the crowd. Here we were celebrating the music that formed in the Village back in the day, and every band did their best, to honor that goal. But what was that music that was being played back then? In it’s most primal form, it was folksy, old-timey music that tapped into the rag time tradition. Brad and the Vestapolitans brought that to light with their set. With get happy, swinging music they provided the musical link to what was then, and is, now one of the most creative and avant-garde spots on this planet – or any other – the Village.

LINKS (in no particular order):,,,,,
,,,,, www.bigedsullivan.comwww.davekeyes.com!/Vestapolitans?sk=info

for more on Greenwich Village:




Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,

photos courtesy of  Leslie K. Joseph
© 2011