I’ve been lucky enough to get to enjoy this band in a couple of different incarnations. With some of the various players joining at times. On this night, however, Anthony was away taking care of his family after a recent accident. And in true Blues Community fashion, his band and the audience took up the charge to both carry the night and help support their brother!
Having had that chance to see Anthony with his band and working with other various bands it’s easy to see why he’s been nominated for multiple awards and won multiple Pinetop Perkins awards! The man has the blues piano down to a science, full of emotion and soul with a dash of sass he brings up a fantastic night of music!
A New England native of New Haven CT, the piano has been a part of his life since he was 4 and asked for a piano from his parents. To the betterment of our community and the support of their prodigious son, they got him that piano! Having grown up seeing the giants of the Blues (Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and BB King) in his hometown area and nearby NYC Anthony got a first class education from the masters.
Later in life he had the chance to play with these and more!
Through his youth and adulthood Anthony has been working towards bringing the first class music he represents to audiences all over!
His improvisation laid out in a perfect measure of flexibility and fidelity to the sound and mood of the music is something that makes me wish I’d stuck with the piano when I was a kid, though I highly doubt I could have ever come remotely close to the heart he brings to the piano each time. But I can look in that rear view mirror and dream.
WIth his band at their most recent outing, at the Bull Run, were Troy Gonyea on guitar and vocals, Dennis Brennan on harp guitar and vocals, Jeff Armstrong on drums and vocals, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and vocals, and a special guest in the form of Sax Gordon Beadle on sax and vocals.
Now that’s what I call a first class lineup!
The All Stars are based around Boston area artists who truly show off the impressive talent that calls New England home!
Troy, dressed to the 9’s, brought out that vibrato guitar sound like a blast from the past built today! He truly is a man of hard work and talent when it comes to his guitar and has a fantastic voice to match those hot licks he pulls lovingly and energetically from the instrument. Having worked with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and others he has brought his own sound to the music. Not limited to just one aspect of the Blues, he has blended Rock, Roots, and Blues into their own unique artform and he is a master of his craft.
Dennis is a Central MA and Boston area institution unto himself. With a storied history taking him from the Worcester area and into Boston he has worked into developing his own band, writing his own music, and even in writing for hollywood films. Dennis brings in the harp like a man on a mission but at ease in his manner. He has the savy of a veteran musician who has spent his life working and continuing to grow. Not confined to the harp, he also plays that acoustic guitar left handed in a fashion that blends seemingly effortlessly amongst the rocking electric sounds around him on the stage.
Mudcat is a legend all his own with more than 40 albums under his belt and numerous awards and nominations. His talents span far beyond that fantastic upright bass he brings to full life in the best of the slow old school Blues and the driving rock Blues. Having played with Ronnie Earl and Big Mama Thornton as he grew as an artist you can see that even early on he was destined for place in the Blues community from Maine all the way down to Boston. He brings his gift for song and music writing into their own and can be heard on many if not most of his albums.
On drums was Jeff Armstrong, also of the Delta Generators, who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing multiple times with several bands. Armstrong is versatile in his style and his settings. He can carry a solo all on his own in a driving force and balance out a 5 piece band equally with force but ease. He blends seamlessly into the music and keeps the beat driving through clearly and on point. Never letting you forget he’s there, he is a phenomenal musician. With his Bachelors in Music from Berklee University and his work in educating future musicians, it’s easy to see why he is sought after for multiple bands throughout the region.
And finally, the special guest who came in to help out while Anthony was away taking care of his family, we have Sax Gordon. A name he picked up early in his career, Gordon Beadle is truly a unique performer. He’s been described as one of the most animated sax players people have seen and as being a professional with an irreverent sense of humor. Something that serves him well as an artist and a showman. I have had the pleasure of sitting down with Gordon in the past to discuss his work in music and in particular the Blues. Something I was impressed and struck by is that he doesn’t consider himself strictly a Blues musician, but instead as a musician in general who works in various styles. He brings a searing and rattle the rafters talent to the stage in his solos and pulls that hard driving sound right along side the band while they all work to bring you the best music in fine Blues tradition.
Together the group brought out the classics, the new, the blue, the funny, and the party!
For a solidly sold crowd these guys brought their A game! Something that I’ve yet to see them fail to do.
Each taking their turn at the mic for vocals and supporting vocals, every single one of these men have a gift in their voice as well as their instruments. And they make it easy to see why their names have been associated with some of the most iconic bands in the Blues. Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Delta Generators, and many more.
It was great to see a group of musicians, who each have their own personally focused bands, come together and show what it means to be an All Star. They each bring their own unique perspectives to the stage and check their ego’s at the door. Making sure that each has their time to shine, you’ll get to enjoy a wide variety of flavors in Blues and Rock. You’re going to find something in each show for each taste.
I can’t stress enough how fantastic it was to see this band working hard and working together bringing the beat to the audience even while their leader was away.
During the night a collection was taken up with the help of the band and the Bull Run staff to help the Geraci family tackle the burden of medical bills and in less than 10 minutes two buckets were filled with donations, and this doesn’t even include the additional donations made at the merch tables afterwards.
In the last month I’ve seen this community come together to support their artists and their families in times of need and of personal crisis. It’s a testament to their talent and genuine care for their audience that the community is ready willing and able to go that extra mile to help pay back the support and joy that their music brings into our lives.
I urge you to keep an eye out for their next event and strongly suggest you run, don’t walk, to get those tickets and settle in for a fantastic night of music.
Take a look at the schedule to see when they will next be in your area, and make sure you check out each artists pages (linked above) to catch them with their own and other groups as they work to keep the Blues alive and well.
*This review was not solicited by the musicians or venue.