Kerry Kearney Band – Smokehouse Serenade | Album Review

Kerry Kearney Band – Smokehouse Serenade

Highlander Records

12 tracks

Celebrating 20 years on making music, Long Island based Kerry Kearney and his band play a style of music they call “Psychedelta”, their own unique style combining rock. Blues and roots music. Kearney has honed his craft for 40 years. The band is Kerry Kearney (guitars, vocals), Mario Staiano (drums), Gerry Sorrentino (bass) and features regular guests who are listed as band members David Bennett Cohen (keyboards) and Nydia Liberty Mata (percussion). The outside guests are Jeff Naimoli (percussion), Frank “Kingbee” Latorre (harp 1st track), Victor Portez (trombone 2 tracks), Mark Mancini piano on the same 2 tracks above and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World”), Bob Paolucci (harp on track 11), Ann Sullivan (shaker on track 11), Dawn & Dave Banks (backing vocals on 1st track) and additional arrangements by Elizabeth Seton.

“Shaking Like Jelly” starts off the album and is a heavy,  mid to up tempo rocking cut with big guitar riffs and solos. Mixing blues and hard rock, this one certainly is designed to get the blood flowing quickly. “Long Tall Mama” is a cowboy sort of tune, upbeat and rollicking stuff. Kearney lays out some nice slide work in this one. “Statesboro Blues” gets transformed from Blind Willie McTell blues and Allman Brothers blues rock to more of a honky tonk blues with back to back piano and trombone soloing giving it a unique sound. The harp solo is also an interesting touch. The guitar does get its’ turn finally, but the flavor is in keeping with the honky tonk style rather than driving rock. “Fireplug” is as gritty and grinding cut with dirty vocals and massive guitar sound.  When Kearney unleashes his solo it’s “Katy bar the door” time because it’s big and bold and only stops when he’s ready to be done. Another piano solo is offered up here, too, to spice things up. The acoustic “No Way Back Blues” is a change of pace in sound and tempo. A throbbing bass drum beat and pretty finger picking on the guitar make this one cool.  A long instrumental lead in is featured and then Kearney comes in with some emotive vocals. “Wake Me, Shake Me, Bake Me” follows, another big guitar cut with guitar, harp and piano blazing. The guitar shreds and burns as Kearney attacks the strings with abandon. Percussion and bass even get a brief turn being showcased at the end.

The old classic “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” is next.  Acoustic guitar and a gritty lead vocal are the approach here.  The tempo is picked up and Kearney certainly puts his spin on the tune. Piano and guitar solo (twice) as Kearney breezes through this one. The title cut is combined with “Camptown Races.” Kearney gets things kicked of on banjo with crowd noises and then the song quickly moves into a modern, mid tempo, rocking style. A prolonged instrumental, Kearney showcases his guitar skills. “Girl From Memphis” is another acoustic cut with a frolicking pace, nice guitar picking, and pretty harp and slide work. “Creole Woman” features a stinging guitar and more dirty sounding vocals. A driving beat, and a piano and then a huge guitar solo are the focus here. “Goin’ To The Mardi Gras” is next, an up tempo creole rocker that’s fun and features some swinging harp, trombone and piano. The CD concludes with “Pretty Baby.” It’s another major league guitar piece with more hard rocking, unabashed rocking blues guitar.

If you like your blues raw and big and rocking, then check this one out.  Kearney holds little, if anything, back in his style.  He also mixes things up well stylistically in these 10 originals and 2 covers (with a little swing-through cover intro).   A member of the New York Blues Hall of Fame, Kearney delivers gritty vocals and a big sounding guitar, so if that’s your style of music taste then you will certainly enjoy this one!

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