Category Archives: music

Joe Olnick Band/Iguana (guitar influences without a rough skin)

 All guitarists who have picked up an ax of choice have been pulled in that direction by what we will call an influence. Seemingly Joe Olnick has quite a few of those influences shining through on his new album (or should we call this six song  novelty an EP as they once did when it’s not a full album?) The first cut, Sticky Floor Nightclub unleashes a seventies guitar feel immediately without ceasing. Our next song has ever so carefully chosen notes during a very patient guitar solo very much as Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour has perfected. February Second is a little diddy that could be a prelude to Misadventures in Hi-Fi which kicks out a garage band idea with a basic sound and raw power. On to Why?, an acoustic number that sounds like what Woody Guthrie would play had he written any instrumentals. And our last invasion is Hot Rocks, a cruising tune ala Allman Brothers via the Brothers and Sisters album. Joe has many influences but has made them all his own shedding the lizards skin.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

Gerry O’Connor and Kevin McElroy Live at the Bangor Arts Exchange

   When one is surrounded by a family of talented abilities, it will come to pass that you will be affected by this musical mystique. Gerry O’Connor certainly was at the epicenter of such a conquest. His fiddling has spanned fourteen albums and has donned the stage with countless bands of legendary status including the Chieftains. His most recent album “Last Nights Joy” entails an endearing quality with a series of jigs stretching the limits of the fiddle to an extraordinary blaze of sound.  His last efforts such as “Skylark” is a signature of a well respected band of merry fiddlers sharing a well known musical understanding being there were several fiddlers participating, creating a mix of styles. And though the styles may vary, the similarities and basic intricacies remain evident. “Orrialla” shares the same idea relating to jigs as a recurring theme, as well as on “Jig Away the Donkey”. These are not merely repetitive themes but instead reflect a certain trademark written somewhere in stone depending from where you hail. The one album that seems to stand out on its own is “Journeyman”, shying away from a concept of sorts and interpolates more of a personal sound captured within the moment like a snapshot in time. Masterful and talented are the qualities of Gerry O’Connor accompanied by Kevin McElroy, the six string minstrel on guitar, with wonderful stories of his own and delicately beautiful voice. Both have an amazingly documented career with more to come.

Brian Eno/Apollo:Atmospheres and Soundtracks/with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno/Extended Edition

     What an interesting musical journey it has been for Brian Eno, or Eno, as he has been known for the longest time. The days of “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy” and “Here Come the Warm Jets” (featuring a dynamic, yet frightening guitar solo by the one and only Robert Fripp on “Baby’s on fire”) has come to a close (for quite a while as it seems). His Ambient  series (Music for Films and Music for Airports) has dominated his instrumental abilities as far reaching as the atmospheres on his latest recording. The spacy interludes are interpolated with countless repetitive overtones with pleasant sounding invasions of multi-varied musical instruments as well as soundscape sounding interludes. A most creative blend of intertwining music meeting somewhere in the outer reaches of space in a silent accord and delicate melodies, almost orchestral at times, and yet never betraying the Eno like instrumental floating sound. You must indulge yourself not only with the music, but with the fascinating liner notes included within. A most righteous effort by Eno and company. The eagle has certainly landed.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

The Moody Blues/Live at the BBC/1967-1970 (True Blue)

     This triumvirate of vinyl has invaded the early days of the Moody Blues in such a way that all of the very best moments of that time have been captured. Not only are the more known favorites featured, but the lesser known gems that Moody head fans would appreciate are peppered throughout this massive three record set on colored vinyl (dark blue, light blue, and out of the ordinary yellow). The clarity and warmth of the well recorded spinning record is ever so evident and sends forth a most resounding sound that is truly the Moodies mood. The liner notes are quite interesting as is the history of the band. Their modest beginnings and rise to stardom have always been blanketed with humility and beautiful melodies. It is most interesting to hear the various differences within the live renditions. Creativity and improvisation is always present in a live arena. That is the sign of a good band that wishes to recreate their talents and abilities outside of the studio. You can hear the musical nuances in some of the different versions of the same songs. The Moody Blues have outlasted a great many personnel changes as well as some of the musical directions they’ve offered from album to album, however, this collection is not only a matter of interest, but a wonderful addition to the historical discography this band has offered through a lengthy and prosperous career. This is true blue…

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photo by Susan D’Alessandro

Heron Valley Live at the Bangor Arts Exchange

 You never know what can come out of Scotland. It has always been its own through the years with a most interesting history. From freedom to its most intriguing folklore, its music has also transpired as well as kept its traditions. And those beautiful traditions have been well transcended into Heron Valley. A most interesting blend of upbeat foot stomping tempo bouncing to the heartfelt dominating lyrics that unleash the sadness felt in ones heart and love for country. Instrumentally they are a tight fit unit, vocally strong and even whimsical in a “cheeky” sense as expressed by the band from the beginning of the show for our best interest in audience participation. The tales told were as much a part of the concert as the music itself. A history unleashed is a history explained. Old stories carried down through the ages gives a fresh new light shining upon the untold meaning within a song. The bands new album “Roam” has all of those qualities and more. From the energetic to the sublime this fresh recording has captured their stage presence as well as their sincerity in their music. Let their melodies sing in your hearts too.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Bangor Celtic Crossroads and Launchpad presents The Gothard Sisters Live at the Bangor Arts Exchange (they come in three’s)

The Celtic world is a far cry from the commercial availability splashed all over as far as the eye can see. It is a world placed in a most special genre, full of stories, legends, and folklore (perhaps even a few outrageous embellishments within some of those stories). And yet, those are the very tales in which we flock to hear, enriching an experience of honesty and musicianship. The Gothard Sisters were no exception to this rule. They fully encased the path on which they’ve taken. Their entertaining flair and delightful combination of musical instruments engaged an ever changing combination of sound and song. It was a wondrous sight to see siblings so given to their art and each other and it was very evident in their selections for the evening. Their latest album “Midnight Sun” and its title cut told us a truthful tale of the bright star not fully at rest at its dwindling time of the night. “Against the Grain” and its sorted explanation left us to look forward to the song rather than its humorous and complex analysis (only kidding). The evening followed up with additional songs of love, sailors, and fantasies. And of course the percussive wars between varied drums and their quick hearted pounding. This sisterly triumvirate of talent was a Celtic success.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro

Bangor Celtic Crossroads Presents Irish Harper Grainne Hambly and Scottish Harper William Jackson at The Bangor Arts Exchange

The evening was a well anticipated one. The chatter about the Harpers grew as some of the crowd wondered if they would play together or separately. Would it have been a case of dueling harps so to speak or could the cultures be intertwined and joined at the strings? There were numbers spent well in a solo effort on both shores as well as a well balanced marriage of the two ends of the isle joining in a most harmonious and melodic grace. The stories never cease to amaze. First of all, who would ever think that an instrumental could be a simple spark of an untold or a variably very told story which seems to be the case for every song. In a life lesson on the same subject it seems that some of the tunes are also tweaked by the artist who plays them at the time, adding and even subtracting bits and pieces of the the tune at their artistic discretion. The titles needed to be adjusted as well depending on the message the composer wished to express at the time. The musical endeavors were superior and masterfully performed. Clarity of the instrument had most certainly drawn the audiences attention due to the delicate nature of the instrument. Included within the musical parameters were the beloved concertina, the whistle, and the ever present bouzouki. They blended well as friendly accompaniment to the featured harp. The traditional aspect was never ignored, ever loved, and most of all respected by both musician and appreciator for hundreds of years past and to come.

Written by John D’Alessandro

Photos by Susan D’Alessandro