Their bio describes them as, “Rhythm and blues to rattle the bones. Sweet soul music to set you free. Grin wider. Groove harder. So goes the mantra of The Shady Street Show Band.” And that’s a mantra I’d have to agree with.
The Shady Street Show Band has risen to become one of the Jersey Shore’s top shows to see, able to strip down to a simple acoustic setup or stretch out with a 15-piece big band complete with horns and backup singers. Among their achievements include winning the Asbury Park Music Award for best soul act in 2014 and 2015, as well as a stint as the house band for The Stone Pony, one of New Jersey’s premier music venues.
The Shady Street Show Band’s original EP, An Almighty Noise, was released in July of 2013. Their second recording project, Together At Last, a split with good friends Hot Blood, was released in August of 2015. The Shady Street Show Band’s first full-length record, Revelry, was issued at the House of Independents in Asbury Park on May 27.
The Shady Street Show Band has been making great strides both on the local level as well as out of state. Mixing the traditional elements of classic R&B with funk, soul and rock progressives, The Shady Street Show Band offer up a great combination not seen much in these parts. Revelry is a wide-open disc that offers up bright combinations of talent and intuitive knowledge. The players alone would just about guarantee an excellent record if it weren’t for the exceptional songwriting that comes with that talent.
Revelry starts off with the chicken picking grit of “Grin.” Guitars work alongside great horn arrangement and the vocal magic of Lindsey DeSena. DeSena reminds me of vocal greats such as Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan, and Ebba Forsberg. Her voice is both powerful and extremely versatile. She moves from explosive highs to mid-range sweet spots with the flick of a switch. The horn work of guys like Ian Gray, trombone, Joe Gullace, trumpet, Sean Marks, tenor/alto/baritone saxophone, Eric Tait Jr., trumpet (on tracks 4, 5, and 7), flugelhorn (track 7), piano (intro track 11), tenor/baritone saxophone Sam Greenfield, alto/tenor saxophone, do excellent justice throughout the disc. Zac Silva and Zack Loria tear into their respective guitar chops with traditional style and 1970s feel.
“Bullet In The Dark” pumps into the mix with tremolo-tinged guitars and solid bass and drum work courtesy of Kevin Grewen and AJ Dumm. DeSena is back with a strong presence with the able assist of Ryan Gregg. “Bullet” moves like a cartridge in the chamber, utilizing many talented players with the keen songwriting skill of primary writer Ryan Gregg. All in all, “Bullet In The Dark” is a fast moving projectile of bluesy goodness.
“Don’t Be Fooled By The Rain” heralds a great horn intro manned by the various people I’ve mentioned earlier. DeSena pulls the listener into her very own lyrical world of tone and soulful communication. The middle-eight keyboard work of Ryan Gregg is all Leon Russell fresh and the horn work stands out strong. This is a well-thought-out piece that takes this band so far up the ladder it isn’t even funny.
“Do What You Can” mixes the old-school soul of Earth, Wind and Fire with some of the older Levon Helm pieces that he used horns on. DeSena once again leads the pack with her full vocal range, running the gamut of soul queen and riding the cusp of all things bluesy. Her vocals lend earthy and genuine cadence to an already full stew of musical talent. When Ryan Gregg pops in at 2:48 it adds an immediately perfect balance that falls right in step with DeSena’s tone.
Moving around a bit, I came to a song called “The Nut Song.” Featuring the lead vocal magic of Ryan Gregg, “The Nut Song” is a choral blend of backwoods Southern hooch and blues-based country gold. The resonator work of Zack Loria is dead on cool and reminds me of just about anything by Ry Cooder. Gregg is a consummate vocalist and along with his contributions on the piano his spot is about as secure as a safe in a bank. With a decided chain gang sing-along quality, “The Nut Song” creates a solid groove that will have you knee slapping all night long.
“Slow Burn” slowly rolls into the player with all the smokey imagery of a torch song. DeSena croons out her musical magic as the band surges back and forth under the keyboard ministrations of Gregg. Background vocals come courtesy of Anthony D’Amato and Emily Grove, who both lend a great and eerie cadence to the overall sound. The horn work is simply amazing as well. The arrangement here is pure genius, and the piece moves like a cat through the jungle.
“The Devil’s In Her Eyes” features the lead vocal talent of Gregg. The band hedges their bets, pulling back and ebbing back in at will for the song as Gregg tears into his lyrical delivery. Steve Maxwell thrills and spills millions of melodious notes into the mix as Gregg states his point. Maxwell’s lead is to the point and brimming with pentatonic prowess but not too much as to be an overloaded burden.
“Home” is up next and is yet another offering of horn-livened goodness. Revelry speaks to the listener and the fan of this band like most cuts here do. DeSena is back with her Nashville-tinged vocal adorations. Light and breezy, she makes these songs pop like not many female singers I know. The horn arrangements and the organ work of Mark Masefield are pure musical gold and make this song work so well.
All in all, Revelry has a total of 14 stellar songs for your listening pleasure and it’s a CD you should pick up at the next show or the band’s website.
The Shady Street Show Band has been making waves for quite some time now, and I believe that they are one of the most talented bands on the shore. Poised to make their next big move in the music industry, The Shady Street Show Band is the one for you.
To find out more about Revelry and The Shady Street Show Band, head over to theshadystreetshowband.com.