Shari Puorto Band – Live at Bogie’s | Album Review

Shari Puorto Band – Live at Bogie’s

Self Release

12 tracks / 51:27

Sometimes artists release a live album when they have run out of new ideas or if they have not put a studio album out in a few years, and they feel the need to get a new product out there in a hurry. Other artists want to document their live sound and have the opportunity to share their stage show with a wider audience, and I think that is where Shari Porto is coming from with her new album, Live at Bogie’s. This was a great idea, as her live show is full of energy and she has the talent to perform the music from her albums on stage without the benefits of studio retakes and post-production trickery.

Shari is a seasoned singer and songwriter based out of the Los Angeles area, and she has been performing professionally since 2000. During that time, she has released four studio albums (with a fifth disc in the works), and her self-produced Live at Bogie’s is her first live effort. This was recorded at Bogie’s in Westlake Village, near the Ventura County Line. Bogie’s is an upscale bar with a killer happy hour, and it is a fine place to see a show. Joining Puorto on stage were guitarist John DePatie,  Frank Scarpelli on bass, Jon Greathouse on keys, and Mike Sauer behind the drum kit.

On this evening, Mike Sutherland recorded eight original songs and four covers, and the tracks were mixed and mastered by David Carey at Rock Room Productions and Total Access in Redondo Beach, California. These guys did a quality job, as there is an appropriate balance of crowd sounds and the band that gives the listener a good feel for the evening’s mood. The drums were mic’d well and the overall mix is a little bass and kick drum heavy, so the overall sound is not tinny or harsh.

After a brief emcee introduction the set kicks off with an original, “It’s a Damn Shame,” a funky cut that puts Shari on display, and her voice is amazing! She exudes equal parts of power and emotion as the lyrics run down a man who is really missing out. DePatie lays down a brief but tasty guitar solo in this four-minute track, and as the set progresses, the listener will find that these songs all have a reasonable duration, coming in between three and five minutes. There is no self-indulgent soloing here to tax the crowd’s patience.

After the opener the band keeps the tempo up and switches to a more traditional blues rock with the originals: “Home of the Blues” and “Outta My Mind,” both of which feature fine keyboard work from Jon Greathouse and gritty vocals from Puorto. These are very good but there are a few standout tracks that the band put together. The first of these is “Six Month Sober,” an upbeat blues rocker with tight bass and drums as well as backing vocals from the guys. The other is “All About You,” which might be the heaviest track on the album. This is a guitar and organ centered 1970s style AOR song with soulful vocals from Shari, who is really at her best here.

There are a few covers included in this setlist, too. Randy Newman’s “Guilty” from 1974 has the feel of the original thanks to Greathouse’s piano, but it is jarring to hear this song performed by someone with the range and emotion that Shari can put into it. I cannot say the same for Candi Staton’s “Evidence” from 1969, as both of these women have the soul to make this excellent song shine. Then, after laying down the super-fun Savoy Brown tune “I’m Tired,” the band closes out the set with Blind Faith’s 1969 hit, “Can’t Find My Way Home.” This finale builds wonderfully as Puorto takes the place of Steve Winwood while DePatie does his best Eric Clapton and Mike Sauer hits the skins like Ginger Baker would. What a cool way to wrap things up!

Live at Bogie’s is a successful effort for the Shari Puorto band, as it is a quality recording full of good material, and it provides the listener with the authentic experience of attending one of their shows. But it is still worth your time to seek out one of the band’s gigs, as there is nothing like getting out and sharing the vibe with a band and their audience. So, be sure to check out their website for details of upcoming shows and to hear some samples of their music – it will definitely be worth your time!

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