11 songs – 49 minutes
Led by guitarist/vocalist Peter Veteska, Peter V Blues Train delivered a promising, self-titled debut album last year after representing the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation at the International Blues Challenge. Creating a sophisticated blend of modern blues with jazz and funk overtones, they prove that the first one was no fluke with this release.
Now in his early 50s, Veteska was born in Manhattan and grew up in Queens, where, influenced by Derek And The Dominos, Alvin Lee and The Allman Brothers, he bought his first guitar at a pawn shop. A self-taught musician, he began playing professionally at age 15, but basically put the six-string down for good after being disillusioned by the music business at 21. A building tradesman by profession, he didn’t pick it up again until nine years ago when that industry soften.
At that point, he started delving deeply into his blues roots, discovering for the first time many of the great guitarists of the ’50s in addition to contemporaries, including Robert Cray. A solid tenor, he didn’t start working on vocals until sitting in at local jams. It’s obvious from this recording that he worked diligently at his craft.
Veteska blends four self-penned originals and seven covers on On Track, backed by his regular unit: keyboard player Aron Gornish, a Philadelphia native with classical training who’s influences include George Duke and Donald Fagan; bassist Sean “Gravey” Graverson, a New Jersey-based iron worker who’s worked with several area bands; and drummer Alex D’Agnese, whose influences include jazz and British blues and rock. They’re augmented by New Jersey Blues Hall Of Fame inductee Bob DelRosso on guitar for three cuts and harp player Gary Nouwirth on two with sax players Danny Walsh and Scott Soloman also making appearances.
A brief staccato guitar riff opens the percussive original, “By The River.” It’s a powerful love song with a funky beat and fiery runs on the six-string that asserts “lovin’ you is no pick-up line” as it describes a tequila-fueled journey in which the couple have nothing but time. The theme continues with a reworking of Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got A Woman.” Soloman’s horn is featured as Veteska delivers a jazzy, unhurried version of the 1954 chart-topper. Brother Ray would enjoy his soulful vocal.
The original, “What Ya Want” is up next. Reminiscent of Average White Band’s “Pick Up The Pieces,” it’s a pure funk with jazz nuances that features Gornish and Walsh and is sure to get audiences up on the dance floor. The tempo slows dramatically for Indigenous’ “Blues This Morning” with Peter V laying down some tasty single-note runs before a thoroughly modern re-do of Lee’s “Me & My Baby.”
The band dips into the songbooks of B.B. King and T-Bone Walker for interesting takes on “Help Poor Me” — delivered atop a regimented drumbeat — and “Old Time Used To Be” — performed as a stripped-down slow blues — before the original “Hey Little Babe” fires out of the gate. It’s a funk-based blues that wonders where the lady “got that thing”– a not-so-subtle reference to the way her derriere swings. It features another Soloman solo.
Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” is up next, delivered as a syncopated urban blues, before a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son,” a standard for Muddy Waters. Peter’s vocals slide seductively throughout atop another funky beat. The set concludes with “Still Got The Blues,” a searing blues delivered from the point of a man who’s still in love with a lady who’s moved on to another man.
The production and music are classy and rock-solid throughout. If your tastes run toward modern urban blues, you’ll definitely get into this one.