Woodstock Records 2015
12 tracks; 62 minutes
Michael Falzarano is a veteran musician who has played with Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and still plays with The New Riders Of The Purple Sage. This project, however, is centred upon New York where all the material was recorded, across three studio sessions and one live performance. Michael wrote all the material apart from two covers and his gruff vocal is the common thread across all these tracks. The studio sessions were recorded in Brooklyn and Woodstock and feature Michael on guitar and vocals with a wide range of supporting musicians: Kane Daily, Josh Colow or Kerry Kearney on guitar, Chris Matheos, Klyph Black, Frank Campbell, Peter Bennett or Frank Celenza on bass, Ray Grappone, Christian Cassan, Gary Burke or Eileen Murphy on drums, Professor Louie, Jon Marshall Smith, Pete Sears or Harley Fine on keyboards, Vassar Clements on fiddle, Jimmie Fleming on mandolin, Charlie Wolfe on harp, Lisa Bouchelle, Alexis P Suter and Miss Marie on backing vocals. The live track was also recorded in Brooklyn and finds Michael on acoustic guitar and vocals with Jam Stampede: Mike Miz and Tom Circosta, guitar; Freeman White, keys; Klyph Black, bass; Dave Diamond and Johnny Markowski, drums; Barry Mitterhof, mandolin; Jason Crosby, fiddle.
That live track is an extended acoustic version of Rev Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” with fiddle and mandolin to the fore. “Crossroads Avenue (Crossroads Revisited)” is remastered from an earlier CD “The King James Sessions” and it’s a good blues with plenty going on: Alexis P Suter’s background vocals brings gospel tones, the piano and mandolin bring some honky tonk feel and the harp and slide combination bring us back to Delta blues. The three tracks recorded in Woodstock offer three very different approaches with the raucous “Snake Box Boogie” being sufficiently extended to allow plenty of dazzling piano work from Professor Louie and flashing leads from Josh Colow. The sardonic lyrics of “I Never Think About You” provide the ultimate putdown: “I know you think I still love you, babe, but nothing could be further from the truth, the truth is I never think about you”. Michael’s voice fits this one like a glove and Josh’s lead guitar is right on the money on one of the highlight tracks here. “We Got A Party Going On” delivers on its title with a very ‘live’ feel though the keyboard sounding like a thin-toned harp did not work well.
The main sessions make up the remaining eight tracks. Opener “The Night King Curtis Died” is a churning blues with Michael’s booming vocal and Kane’s slide work particularly strong. The title track has a Bo Diddley beat and “Big Fish” some jaunty slide work from Kerry which, along with Vassar’s fiddle, gives the tune a country blues feel. Lyrically Michael takes another swipe at someone who has an inflated sense of importance: “Baby, you think you’re such a big fish. I got news for you, honey, you don’t mean that much to me”. “Good Good Lovin’” is a strong cut, a rocker with plenty of slide from Kane and a catchy chorus and “Trouble” follows a similar path, Michael’s vocal reminding us of Dylan in his country blues period. “The Devil’s Gone Fishin’” is a slower blues with Kerry’s lead guitar well supported by Professor Louie’s piano and organ work and the album closes with a decent stab at Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Work Together” with more excellent guitar playing from Kane.
Solid playing from a wide range of musicians on some good songs makes this a set worth checking out.