Joe Whyte – When the Day Breaks
After almost three years without a new CD, Matawan turned New York City soloist Joe Whyte has decided to climb back into the arena of composition and grace us with some new product. His latest disc is titled, When the Day Breaks and features a good mixture of Americana/folk styled writing that has elevated him to the status of “The King of NYC Americana.” And while that may be the case, I’ve watched him rub enough greasy elbows in his own home state to know he probably doesn’t mind with being associated with us poor Jersey folk either.
The new disk is a big step up for Joe and features great production as well as players. Fellow musicians such as Dan Marcus (Crescent & Frost, Ana Egge) on guitar, mandolin and Dobro as well as the four-string fortitude of Catherine Popper (Grace Potter, Ryan Adams) ensure Whyte has a steady force behind his melodic mezzo-soprano voice. Songs like “Please Believe Me” jump along on Dobro-fueled springs and two by four bass bounces. Pianos, acoustic guitars and mandolins sprinkle down all over the song like flurries in February, bracing Whytes warmed up vocal. I say warmed up because it takes about a half of a verse for Joe to climb into his stratosphere and level off with the band but once he stretches out into the chorus he’s got it nailed.
Song two is titled “This City Is Alive” and brings forth nasally visions of early Jagger doing “Knocking On Heavens Door.” Harmonicas streamline the intro and the bridge ala Bruuuuce! But it works well with his down home honky tonked regime. His somber toned “Off To War” could take place anywhere in the history of the world with its theme of a soldier saying goodbye to his family on his way to war. Visions of doubt mix with the worries of survival, cherished love of wife and children and the aftermath of whatever ends up happening. Ethereal harmonies and warm acoustic guitars bubble like a brook as Whyte soars with poignant lyrics such as, “I hope you cover me in kisses instead of the red, white and blue.”
The overall theme stays pretty on track for this six-song disk and Joe is an avid learner who only gets better as he goes along his path. “It’s A Shame” continues his success as it launches lazy hazy spring fed Dobro over the top of acoustic and bass, allowing Whyte to tell his dusty, back roads story with clarity. This is my pick of the disk for a couple of reasons. First of all, structurally sound and strong, and second, this is one that could easily flip and support a full country band and crossover effort well. Nice job.
“4TH Of July” sports steel bending guitars, half timed feel of the wilderness, crying in the distance of its own solitary verses. Not sure who is playing lap steel, as they aren’t listed under that particular instrument, but they’re quite good and really make this song shine with vivid aural imagery. Support harmonies from Catherine Popper are also vital here.
One of the better EPs I’ve had the pleasure of listening to lately. Joe Whyte will be opening for Rod Picot on Tuesday Dec. 7 at The Saint in Asbury Park. Go check him out and buy his CD, it’s worth the trip. For further information go to whenthedaybreaks.com
Heat warms up the 12th Annual Motorcycle Charity Run-December –Harrison
Man, is it Christmas time already? It just seems like I just got over getting ripped off last year by all of my friends and family with cheesy cheap gifts. Well this year, as certain members of my extended family read this column, I just want to say I only want cash or Makers Mark Whiskey. Pass that along please.
But in the good-natured effort of helping and giving, our two-wheeled brethren are kicking over and making the run to provide money and gifts for the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. A noble effort in any month, December will be an icy cold drive warmed to the core by these noble and good-natured givers who, along with every band I know in Jersey, are first on the line for volunteering and helping when it’s needed.
New Jersey rockers Heat will be donating not only time, but road crews and all PA gear to make this day pay off in spades. The event starts at around 11 a.m. and goes all day with the bike run kicking off at 12:30 p.m. Special guests Someone Say Something take the stage around noon start it up.
Heat is an Ocean county band that has been vying for the attention and getting it from just about every rocker in the tri-state area. In a swampy, sandy place known for The Soprano’s, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, Heat is Southern Jersey’s fresh, smack in the face answer to everything exciting, rebellious and unconventional in rock and roll. With fast-paced action elements of Nascar culture and the mega influential sound decibels of Spinal Tap, The Ramones and Kiss, Heat have no problem flying their freak flag over the musical heartlands of America and beyond.
The groups pre-release stats are telling and include sold out shows and much buzz in the musical press. Spotlights in Billboard and their associations with hard work, big name bands such as Foreigner, Cheap trick and Blue Oyster Cult and extensive charity work have helped them pack houses from San Diego to Asbury parks famed Stone Pony. And on Dec. 5 they will be kicking in to make the 12th Annual Motorcycle Charity Run a success for both the kids and the attendees.
There will be a 50/50 raffle and all are welcome. $20 gets you into the run as well as a post-run lunch buffet. The run begins and ends at Vinnies. Dec. 5 is Rain, snow or shine so, folks, it’s going down. Vinnies is on 215 Manor Avenue in Harrison. The contact is Pat and he can be reached at 973-876-8751 or firstname.lastname@example.org Heat will have their brand new CD titled, Heat, Get Burned available at the event and on the bands website over at myspace.com/ClassicHeat.
Lili Roquelin-Saved by Zero
France’s coolest enterprising export, Lili Roquelin continues to make friends and influence music fans with her dusky, dark-jeweled experimental piano and tech sound. Recent news from the Roquelin camp includes a hot Nov. 30 show at the Bitter End that will feature a lush, multi-piece Acoustic band, grand piano and string section all backing Lili (a fabulous pianist in her own right), as she delivers songs from her three projects including selections from her most recent CD titled, Will You Hate The Rest Of The World Or Will You Renew Your Life? Roquelin continues to shift into higher gear with her writing and I look forward to hearing more cool stuff in the near future. The Bitter End is at 147 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and LaGuardia.
Other news includes Lili now working with the renowned cinematographer Arnaud Muller (U2) at RNO Pictures, who puts the brilliance in the visual aspect of her hot video, “Should You Get Mad.” Shot as a period piece, “Should You Get Mad” is an enchanting music video that brings you out of our mundane world for a few minutes and into the arabesque world of Lili Roquelin. The video will be screened at Zero Film Festival (London, Miami, LA) for their NYC edition Wednesday Nov. 17. There will also be a special live performance. This all takes place at The Invisible Dog Art Center 51 Bergen Street Brooklyn, NY 11 201, 7pm, NO COVER. For further info contact Lili at liliroquelin.com.