Peter V Blues Train – Shaken But Not Deterred
Getting off to a rousing start with “Don’t Wanna Leave Memphis,” the Peter V Blues Train offers more of the formula that has worked well on their previous three recordings. Leader Peter Veteska’s tenor voice rings out loud and clear, matching his gutsy guitar work as he imparts yet another song celebrating highlights of the Memphis experience. Alex D’Agnese on drums and Sean “Gravey” Graverson on bass contribute a sturdy shuffle rhythm while guests Jeff Levine on the Hammond B3 and Danny Walsh on saxophones elevate the proceedings with bold statements. They follow that with a heavier-than-usual version of the Fats Domino classic, “Blue Monday,” complete with fine solos from Levine and Veteska. Walsh takes the lead on a cover of “T-Bone Shuffle,” dishing out a soaring solo excursion as the band grinds along.
The keyboard talents of band member Aron Gornish are featured the high-powered “By the River,” with lyrics by Joanne Cesario, who co-wrote five other tunes. “In Demand” sports a horn-driven strut with an insistent guitar riff as the leader seeks approval from the one woman that caught his eye. Coo Moe Jhee takes over on bass. A sassy duet with Vanessa Vance on “Getting Closer Now” is one memorable moment, with some well-placed harp blowing from Gary Neuwirth adding extra flavoring. The band rips through “Don’t Cheat On My Lady,” with Veteska vigorously professing his continuing faithfulness in the midst of temptation, signing off with a rapid-fire solo. His vocal talents are revealed on the smoky ballad, “For All We Know,” with Levine on the Hammond organ once again creating the desired mood, helped out by Gary Mazzaropi on stand-up bass.
Some of the leader’s hard-scrabble Brooklyn youth comes through on the anthem-like “Alibi,” while the title track finds him steadfast in his determination to not back down or give up. When he delivers another blistering guitar break, there is no doubt about his sincerity. “Ben So Long” features different backing musicians, adding Bob DelRosso on guitar, Bill Cherensky on bass, and Paul Levinsky on drums without losing any coherence in the overall sound . A “bonus” track finishes off the disc with a live, acoustic version of Big Maceo’s classic tune, “Worried Life Blues”. Walsh’s sax dances around Veteska’s plaintive vocal, creating a expressive musical dialogue.
There is plenty to enjoy on this well-crafted disc. The songs and arrangements hold up over repeated listens. The solos are compact statements, bucking the trend of overblown shredding ad nauseum. The one area where the disc falls a bit short of the mark is in the lyrical content, which often seems to be a string of phrases that do little to tell a story or create an emotional reaction. That aside, the Peter V Blues Train has another disc to be proud of, one that definitely will appeal to those listeners who lean to the rock side of the blues continuum.