Rick Keene Music Scene – Rivercat Provides 52 Saturday Nights of Real Rock N Roll

It may sound like a cliche but – it absolutely does not mean a thing without that swing.

Mark Rivers

Rivercat was established more than two decades ago. Principle songwriter and leader Mark Rivers honing his New Jersey-bred craft under the bright lights of New York City. Just like the Big Apple itself – Rivercat is a blend of everything. Just like The Big Apple itself – Rivercat is filled with attitude.

The first thing you hear within Rivercat on their new album 52 Saturday Nights is that Coney Island ‘noise’. Garland Jeffries has it, Lou Reed had it and anyone who has breathed that air – has it. The sound from Rivercat cannot be easily described nor can it easily be duplicated.

New Night – the first tune on the disc feels subdued. The guitars and vocals trapped under a sewer and clawing to escape the ‘muddy waters.’ Like a slow moving Demon – the tune gathers strength and breaks into a comfortable jam. The chemistry within Rivercat obvious. A feeling the best is yet to come on the disc; a given. New Night brings the foreplay.

Red Lipstick, the second tune – combines a rockabilly beat with a punk sound. In between – the vocals and chorus swoon like alternative birds. The music and the voices not quite connected which gives the song an edge and a view of the outside looking in. Intentional or not, a feeling of The Stones from Some Girls shines through. A real kick in the gut at loud volumes.

Perhaps the most radio friendly tune on the album – Down in the Streets, has swagger. A chaos which is neither Rock nor Punk. A Reggae feel with sloppiness. A first listen pinches the curiosity. A second go embeds the tune into a never ending session. If only all songs could be written this way.

Drive is Rock without the Roll. Guitar heavy and no sloppiness. A sign that Rivercat can do what it wants and do it well. A straight on tune with no messing around. An interesting precursor to the next tune on the disc – The Rain.

The Rain journeys into the 80s and 90s sound. Harmonies akin to the band Journey and rhythms which Chrissie Hynde would be proud of. The connotations within the lyrics on all songs – typical of New York. Keys on the song bring to mind a little Pink Floyd. The guitar solo simple but profound. Rivercat as we have heard thus far non existent. A tip of the hat to the band who are so diverse in their craft.

In Suzie’s Bullet, the band hits it’s Coney Island persona full tilt. Almost spoken lyrics ( hello Lou Reed?) evolve into hard riffs and a hard story. Once again – Rivercat harnessing energy. Teasing with bursts of what you can have if Rivercat wants you to have it. The ebbs and flows are sensational and fit the mood of a love tale gone bad.

52 Saturday Nights is a tribute to the band’s favorite night to play. The album reeks of Bourbon.

Bourbon retains the swagger of Rivercat. The swagger of New York. An off kilter track which gives attitude through perfectly placed guitar riffs, background vocals and in your face shots of rhythm. The entire sound gets you prepared for the second catchiest tune on the disc; Shake This House.

If you look up Rock N Roll in the dictionary – Shake This House should be there. Your toes start tapping. Your heart starts pounding. Your brain hears the rebellious lyrics and then one of the most catchiest choruses kicks in. You are dead from the waste down or head up if Shake This House does not end up on your playlist or you do not end up on the dance floor.

If music can make you feel you are crawling on the floor trying to explain yourself – then Party Train and Blue Whiskey have done their jobs.

Rivercat combine old school sensibilities in their tunes. Country acoustic popping up between electric riffs and Southern Blues. A Muscle Shoals ‘live on the floor’ gospel fuddled sound. Drawls and slurs appearing relentlessly through a spurned lover banging on the glass with a rose in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other..

The final two tracks on the album are anthems of sorts. Somebody 2 Rock commences with a teasing, slow moving beckon and then slaps you almost immediately with a powerful two punch. Guitars singing behind the words like a hurt animal giving the tune an added dimension not heard in the first ten songs on the disc. Live – this could be the first tune or the encore. Either way – it is another tune from the disc bound to end up on a playlist in the swampy landscape of pure Rock N Roll. Calling all nations …

One After 909 has the feel of a Beatles’ song because it is. One of the earliest Lennon / McCartney tracks and released on Let It Be almost ten years after it was written. The tune predates the Beatles’ Boy Band commercial career start with a predominately penned Lennon ‘Cavern’ song. Rivercat fittingly end 52 Saturday Nights with Rock n Roll although once more with a held back energy. The album starts and ends with a band forlornly in control of their sound and capabilities. Holding the reins of a trip everyone must take.

Rivercat are one of very few bands keeping Rock N Roll alive. In a New York state of mind. Of course …

You Really Should Visit Rivercat Right Here !

 

Rick Keene Music Scene – Top Ten Favorite Interviews 2017

For those who follow my escapades (both online and in attempting to promote local music), five words may come to mind;

It ain’t easy being green.

Competing against the corporate machine is not something that comes easy. Ringo Starr was dead on.

For six years, I’ve accomplished more than I thought possible as one guy. Bringing record reviews , concert reviews and interviews to homes. Stuff that corporate may cover but on Rick Keene Music Scene – more extensive and personal. More attune to the man on the musical street.

Sass Jordan

Sifting through the 2017 interviews I undertook, it is not fair to narrow down to the top ten. It’s not fair to remove ten from all the hard working musicians attempting to make the world a better place.

Let’s call it my Top Ten Favorite Interviews. For whatever reason , the ten below stand out in my mind.


Thanks for listening. Talk soon !

2017 Top Ten Favorite Interviews

10. Chris White – The Zombies

The original bass player in The Zombies, one of the iconic British Invasion bands of the sixties , both educational and pleasant. Chris very fortright in his opinions of putting the Zombies and their tales into perspective.

9. Darryl James – The Strumbellas

The Strumbellas are possibly the biggest Canadian band at the moment. Check that , Canada’s youngest biggest band right now. In the middle of a tour , Darryl took time to provide an insight into the day-to-day goings on in a band on the verge of global success.

8. Anthony Gomes

Anthony is originally Canadian but currently resides in St. Louis. Not only is Anthony one of the best Blues guitarists on the circuit , he is also one of the purest songwriters. He combines all the ingredients that make up music into his tunes. Gospel, Country , Blues , Soul and Folk. Aside from all that , Anthony constantly raises money for mental health facilities.

7. Sass Jordan

Canada’s sweetheart and foremost carrier of the Rockin torch is always a pleasure. No holds barred , no bs with Sass. The truth about herself and anything else that comes up – Sass is an interviewer’s dream.

6. Sheldon Kagan

One of Montreal’s original concert promoters retired and is writing a book about his experiences. Hearing how a young man left home ( against the advice of his parents ) to become a DJ and parlay that into a hugely successful commodity, a learning curve more acute than most. Lots of tales.

5. Lawrence Gowan

The front man for Styx since 1999 is always Canadian. Honest , funny,  polite and extremely intelligent. Providing insightful musical antedotes and life lessons – Lawrence is a walking encyclopedia about Canadian music.

4. Dr. Jarrett Lobley

The Jarret Lobley Project is a band ripe with inspiring lyrics. Lobley, a physician full time, instilling hope to the listener. He does house calls on his motorcycle and treats aboriginal addicts on his own time as he flies his plane to the north. Compelling.

3. Dr. Trevor Payne

The doctor was head of and founder of The Montreal Jubilation Choir for thirty five years. He decided to step aside and I was the first media guy to help him get the message out. Dr. Trevor Payne ‘s thoughts and experiences – second to none. Working with Stevie Wonder and Dr. Oliver Jones. Tales come from wide and far.

2. Garland Jeffries

One of music’s unsung heroes. One of the first African American musicians to address the racial strife South of the Border. From hanging out with Lou Reed to Bruce Springsteen , Garland remains an every man. True , down to earth and one of the most entertaining singers live in the past fifty years.

1. Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge was the voice of Rock n Roll for women. Arriving at the perfect time (videos taking over ), Melissa not only shot to the top with songwriting and performance , she gave attention to the many females who came before. A cancer survivor, a Rock n Roll survivor and a spokesperson for the LGBT community and any cause that benefits the underprivileged

Stay tuned for

          The Top Ten Concerts of 2017 !

Garland Jeffries

 

Jazz Festival Reviews – Steve Miller Band / Garland Jeffries

Garland Jeffries ain’t dead yet …

Far from it.

images (1)

Friday night at Place des Arts, the seventy-one year old singer and songwriter displayed his youthful character, in song and spirit. Once a rebel – always a rebel.

‘I promised my wife and daughter to stay calm …’

Words from the Brooklyn-born Jeffries seconds after jumping off stage, wandering the first three aisles and jumping ( rolling ) back up again ( he repeated this feat twice during his almost hour long set).

It has been forty-seven years since Jeffries’ made turntables shake with his most popular release ‘Ghost Writer’. Apparently it has been the same length of time since several punters in the crowd have heard his most loved tune ‘Spanish Town’ from the same album. Catcalls echoed Salle Wilfred Pelletier for one of the 70’s most beloved anthems to be played and following a ‘ I’d have to shoot myself if I don’t play it ‘ retort – Jeffries delivered a heart wrenching version of a heart wrenching song.

 ’35 Millimeter Dreams’, from the same album, another classic – cemented Garland’s status as a 2015 performer – not as a ‘classic rocker’. Jeffries’ band and his very own acute vocals – to the point and vast in musical depth. ‘Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me’ and ‘Coney Island Winter’ placed the show in categories. Past, recent past and present. A trio of tenses tense with musical ambiguity with a wink and a nod to the future.

Judging by the sounds of it – Garland Jeffries Band?

Just born ….?

Far from it …


Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band is one of ‘those bands …’

In the early 1970’s – Mcartney’s Wings were taking flight and Rock n Roll was taking a different path. Gone were the Pop -ish sounds of the 1960’s. Replaced ( for the most part) by guitar -driven songs which would eventually lead into Punk and Disco.

Steve Miller blended catchy Pop with those guitar sounds and all these years later – those tunes stand the test of time

 As the band cycled the hits of yesteryear – it was difficult to not wonder what happened to music. Steve Miller’s voice, at the age of seventy-one, exactly the same in 2015 as 1973. Spooky. Steve Miller’s songs? As relevant in 2015 as 1973.

Spooky …

images (2)

‘Space Cowboy’, ‘Take the Money and Run’, ‘Rock n Me’, ‘Jet Airliner’ – if you were a teenager in the decade of Grease, you know the list. If you are an adult in 2015 – you know the list.

Miller himself – one of the most underrated songwriters and guitarists in the history of popular music. These qualities shone throughout the evening at Place des Arts notably on songs such as  ‘Space Cowboy’ and ‘Abracadabra’. Following Miller’s transcendence of the melodic structure with artful fingers during these songs – perhaps Miller is one of those guys whose ‘hits’ are just the tip of his musical iceberg. To be in his living room – a possible guitarist heaven.

Miller ( like most successful musicians) was schooled in the Blues and Steve took Friday’s opportunity to showcase some vintage Blues’ tunes.

‘Blues With a Feeling’ – the Little Walter classic, done by the Steve Miller Band with feeling. Real Blues guys cannot fake the Blues and the Miller band discarded any ‘masks’ performing T-Bone Walker’s ‘Bone Shuffle’. A pleasure to understand the roots of ‘The Joker’.

One standout, amid a ‘space’ backdrop, both musically and visually appealing was ‘Fly Like An Eagle’. Miller’s most recognizable and poignant 70’s sounding tune, perfect for the moment. A reflection of that Frank Marino / Pat Travers – sounding era.  Dragonfly / Crash and Burn / Fly Like an Eagle. A trio of mellowness combined with hallucinatory trips into funk and rock. The Miller Band teased all the old LSD lovers with a drop of nostalgia.

In jean jacket terms …

It was cool.

 

Jarrett Lobley Project Click Here !
Jarrett Lobley Project
Click Here !

10320414_10153439493101874_7828025216115297765_n