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Homegrown CD Reviews
Dirigo's 'Jamericana' should be played out loud! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Admin   
Saturday, 05 November 2011 20:02

By Liz Betit

I was most fortunate to be in the audience on Sept. 9, when Dirigo held their Maine CD-release party at the Big Easy in Portland, promoting their first CD, “Jamericana.”

Opening for Dirigo that night was the six-piece Superfrog Band based out of Portsmouth, N.H., who did a fine job of priming the crowd before Dirigo took to the stage.

Dirigo opened with Erik Glocker’s “Wrong Way” and throughout the evening’s performance played about 90 percent of the content on the new CD.

Steve Jones didn’t perform “Before the Moment’s Gone” or “Movie in Your Mind,” but he did substitute with “Dreamer’s Blues,” “She Loves to Sing,” and “Cup of Tea,” three well-known tunes written by Jones, which were all superbly done.

Luke Patchen’s performance of “Don’t Play Me” really got the crowd up dancing. The band also did a cover of “Ridin’ Thumb” by Seals and Crofts, which just smoked! In fact, the whole evening smoked!

Prior to attending the show, I was given an advance copy of the “Jamericana” CD. I listened to it at least 50 times before the Sept. 9 show and it became y ‘traveling music,’ so to speak. I average roughly 300 miles a week in my job so that’s a lot of “Jamericana.”

And I have also been lucky to watch Dirigo evolved since its inception over the last year and a half or so.

I have to admit that I have been bitten by the Dirigo bug and find myself drawn to their music like a bug drawn to light.

“Jamericana” is their first masterpiece collectively.

Though ideas originate individually with each songwriter (Jones, Patchen Montgomery and Glockler), each member adds his or her own vision to each other’s song, musically or vocally.

The individual talents of each member Is overwhelming at best, but when you combine all that creative energy and musical geniality, you get a super group.

If this band doesn’t put Maine on the national rock ‘n’ roll music scent, I don’t know who will.

There is a reason that the jam in “Jamericana” is highlighted in red on the cover of the CD. This band takes you down into the music. So many bands today play a song; they are in, they are out, and the song is over. But each song is a jam with Dirigo, especially when you see them perform live and there are no time restraints placed on them.

The tunes on “Jamericana” are all very danceable and most could stand on their own. To be perfectly honest, there isn’t a song on this CD that I don’t like. I find bits and pieces of Dirigo’s music flitting in and out of my mind … a harmony here, a guitar rift there, adding to the cacophony of music already playing in my head. That’s a good thing.

“Jamericana” also has a broad appeal to different age groups. Let’s put it this way: ‘I ain’t no spring chicken’ and my 23-year-old daughter likes it too. She and I are not often on the same musical page given most of the music you hear today.

I can’t say enough about the vocal harmonies on this CD. They are wonderfully done – crisp and tight. And drummer Ginger cote, joined in the vocal fray that evening, lending her voice to the background mix! The harmonies on “For Jenny” are of particular note.

Glockler has given us three outstanding tunes in “Wrong Way,” “Sheep Without a Shepherd,” and “The Scene Fades to Black.” He is a poet in his own right and reaches the listener both through the melodies that he has crafted and the word that carry – in some cases – powerful messages.

“Sheep Without a Shepherd” has a Beatlesque feel to it, particularly in Cote’s drumming and Glocker’s base lines.

“The Scene Fades to Black” has a special poignancy for the Maine community of Hallowell since it was inspired the tragic and unexpected death of Ian Parker, a Hallowell musician and entertainer. It also offers a life lesson if we are truly listening to Glockler’s words.

Steve Jones offers us two of his classic style tunes in “Before the Moment’s Gone” and “Move in Your Mind.” What is a classic style, Steve Jones tune, you ask? One in which the rhythmic melody is joyous and uplifting, his guitar plays some cool riff that stays on your brain and, more likely than not, has a beat that you can dance to.

Steve and I have had a friendship that is now in its third decade, and I have always been a huge fan of his music no matter what group he has been in. I can usually spot a Steve Jones’ tune a mile away, but he caught me off guard with “Used to Know.” It’s different than anything I’ve heard him write all these years. I never read the liner notes before listening to the CD and I know this band’s formula: they trade off on lead vocals and (usually) when it’s an original, the writer sings it. But Patchen sings the lead on “Used to Know.” The melody has a hauntingness to it and Patchen’s vocals are outstanding! Jones wrote a beautiful song.

Luke Patchen Montgomery gives us five tunes that leave the listener dazed in trying to decide which one is the favorite of the pack.

The harmonies are tight on “Day Job” and “For Jenny,” and along with “Don’t Play Me” are good dancing tunes as well. “Don’t Make Me Beg You To Stay” is done in rockabilly strut style with a little nastiness attached. Patchen really plays his voice like another instrument, coaxing out different notes. His vocals in “Used to Know” are beautiful. He has pure joy when he sings; you can hear it in the timbre of his voice and see it in the smile on his face.

No one compares to Ginger Cote with her ability to be spot on with each and every beat she plays. She leads this band on with a quiet calm in her demeanor but her presence permeates throughout the music. I was also pleasantly pleased to her join in on some of the delicious harmonies on this CD.

Recorded and mixed superbly at The Root Cellar in Hallowell, “Jamericana” is definitely one CD that should be played LOUD!

The CD can be purchased at live shows, Bull Moose in Waterville, Brunswick, Portland and New Hampshire, and at cdbaby.com.

To find out where Dirigo is performing in New England, go to www. dirigomusic.com

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 November 2011 20:04
 
Colwell Brothers got their mojo workin' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Greg Fish   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 09:13

 Okay, first things first: The Colwell Brothers recently released New Shoes - Old Blues doesn’t break any new ground musically.

And you know what? I don’t care. Because I love this CD.

The Colwell brothers are well known in the Augusta area and beyond - they grew up in Gardiner. Pat, the former Maine Speaker of the House lives in Bath these days and also plays with the Soul Sensations; Bob owns a music studio called the Root Cellar in Hallowell.

The Colwells are Mainers through and through, but “New Shoes - Old Blues” is deeply rooted in the blues and classic rock. The influences are on display everywhere - I can hear BB King here, George Thorogood there, a little Albert King, with CCR and Bob Seger thrown in for good measure.

Those are all artists that I love. So quite naturally, I was bobbing my head and stomping my feet within the first minute of the disc’s first track, Boozoo Chavis’ “Lula Lula Don’t You Go to Bingo,” a raucous two chord stomp with growling vocals and tasty harp by Dave Wakefield. Elsewhere, there are blues shuffles; “450 lb. Woman,” with its walking bass line and wailing horn section, is downright irresistible.

But New Shoes - Old Blues isn’t all footstomping blues. There are a couple tasty shuffles, and a good dose of R&B. And like any good blues album, there’s are a couple slow, sweet songs, with my favorite of the two, “You Can Always Get Love From Me, featuring Maine legend Mark “Guitar” Miller with a fine display of his magnificent chops.

If you don’t like the blues, this CD isn’t going to be your cup of tea. But if you do, grab yourself a copy of New Shoes - Old Blues, and turn it up. LOUD. Get your mojo workin'!!!

For more information on the Colwell Brothers, go to http://soul-sensations.com/?page_id=87 .

- Greg Fish

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 18:41
 
Swinger's Moon on a Sunday morning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Greg Fish   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 08:11

 

Martin Swinger: Moon

As I type this inaugural review for Homegrown, it’s Sunday morning. I’m sitting in front of the stove, laptop on the kitchen table and a strong coffee in hand. The house is silent the wife still abed with the dogs and cats nearby.

I have several discs to choose from, but I opt for Martin Swinger’s Moon. I decide quickly I’ve made a good choice - Moon offers what I like best in my Sunday morning music: Quiet introspection, with an emphasis on melody and lyrics, without a lick of clash and clang. And every now and then, a little bit of the odd  and amusing to get the brain rolling.

Martin Swinger has been performing for some forty-odd years now, and  over that time, he’s absorbed  musical styles from all directions. On Moon, he displays  that knowledge. The CD opens with the country-tinged “Little Plastic Part; there are touches of jazz elsewhere, swing  from the 1920s, on “My Old Shoe” and the delightful “Betty Boop and Buddha,” with that pair strangely off dating.  And throughout there are folk underpinnings. it’s a mix that’s a bit eclectic at times, but Swinger makes it work.

Unlike too many songwriters, Swinger thinks when he writes, and the subject matter, while treading occasionally on familiar ground, often goes in directions out of the norm. My personal favorite is the haunting “Watching You Sleep,”: where the narrator watches a friend, or perhaps a lover, slowly dying in a hospital:

A cry of strain: you grab the pain.  It's a pounding tambourine.

What can I do? Keep Watching You and bump the morphine.

That’s sad stuff, and powerful; such sadness permeates much of Moon. But there also are lighter moments, such as the previously mentioned “Betty Boop and Buddha” and the humorous “Consider the Oyster," which tells a tale of the life of that bivalve:

An oyster leads a dangerous and stressful life.

Indeed, his chance to live at all is mighty slim.

He can expect only one fate:

To end life on someone’s plate

And until that, prospects are pretty grim.

All in all, Moon is an excellent offering, with strong appeal for those who like thoughtful folk music; it's also recorded exceptionally well, the parts and vocals mixed cleanly and clearly. Check it, and Swinger’s other offerings, out at his website at martinswinger.com.

- Greg Fish

 

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2011 08:31
 


 
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