The old saying, “You can’t keep a good man down” was custom written for this Manasquan, New Jersey, artist. Peter Myers is a songwriter with so much background history that I’m always shocked that writers don’t talk about him on a regular basis.
Myers’ professional songwriting career started after an in-house showcase was arranged at CBS with A&R director John Hammond, which resulted in a three-year staff writing position at April Blackwood/CBS and a recording/production contract with producers Hank Medress (The Tokens) and Dave Appell, who co-produced “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn.
If that wasn’t enough, Myers continued to sign song-publishing deals with independent music publishers in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York. Among the contracted songs was the title track from David Hasselhoff’s debut recording project Night Rocker produced by Joel Diamond. Myers also wrote Hasselhoff’s “No Words For Love.” The album helped launch a huge U.K. and European career for David Hasselhoff as a singer.
Myers’ latest project, Jigsaw Monet is one that’s long overdue. Myers pulls no technical punches or fancy production games on this disc. It’s just voice and acoustic guitar with some occasional band accompaniment doing an intimate dance with the listener.
Myers’ fingerpicking and rhythmic slant shines bright on songs such as “Cedar Boat,” a dreamscaped gem that paints visual pictures across the sea and the world, all from the humble construction of a vehicle of hope and fast-forward life. Myers’ toned vocal never falters as he waxes poetic positive with the line, “It might just be a little boat, but at least I’m still afloat.”
The CD title song, “Jigsaw Monet,” combines simple harmony with smart, open chord phrasing that sets this classy namesake right at the top of the singer/songwriter heap. Open and honest, Myers’ hushed tone moves this tune along with boutique-styled soul and feel. Listening to Myers set up the lyrics, building and emoting verse with effortless skill tells me why Hammond made a grab at him in the first place.
Other highlights include “Barrow Street.” Myers tells the tale of the old Greenwich Village street and home to many places and faces now long gone. Dynamic and melancholy in nature “Barrow Street” glistens with recollections and distant memories, capped in harmonica and bell-tone acoustics. An old street fades with déjà vu as the storyteller says, “Have we ever met?/ Maybe it was the subway?/ You’re probably someone else/ Yes, I’m certain you’re someone else.”
“Ragtime Emmyloo” kicks in with a full band (first on the disc) and these guys are just on fire. I don’t have the band member names as of press time but it’s a combination of pedal steel brilliance and upright bass pop and jump. Ghosts of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys gallop across my mind as I listen to this tune over and over again.
The disc has a total of 13 interesting songs and is well worth purchasing. Peter Myers has the wealth of knowledge and experience that most of us could only wish to possessed in our lifetime and he shares it all on Jigsaw Monet. Whether you’re a fan of folk or just open to great new music, Jigsaw Monet is a puzzle worth solving. For more on Pete Myers and is intricate path, head over to peterqmyers.com.
Bob Polding: Taking the world by one street at a time
There was a time that whenever the name Bob Polding came up I thought, “Great, another guy who has decided to stick close to the shore and mimic Springsteen. But that’s actually not a fair assumption, as over the years I’ve found Polding and his crew to be great, hard working musicians steeped in a more traditional Nashville direction versus the Jersey shore horn and organ show.
Not to say the band doesn’t do well at the shore; they definitely do. The band always plays with the same level of intensity, whether performing at intimate local clubs like The Stone Pony, The Saint and The Wonder Bar, The Paramount Theatre or larger inland venues such as The Sands Casino or The Starland Ballroom. The band has also landed on the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino stage (Las Vegas) and performed at Giants Stadium twice, with Polding singing the National Anthem as well as the whole band performing during halftime.
Polding is a no-nonsense songwriter who takes his career seriously when making live show moves. He’s played with some of rock’s biggest names and performers such as, Leslie West, Nils Lofgren, Southside Johnny, Pat Green, Peter Frampton and more. Bob has also been performing with the multi-platinum selling Toby Keith and will continue to in the not so distant future.
The Toby Keith connection is the influential fuel that makes the most sense to me after listening to Polding’s latest disc, My Streets. The album features a dozen songs that range from blue-collar rock and roll to the steel bending bliss of Nashville’s music row. Very few Jersey influences pop up on this record and it’s a satisfying thing to see such a talented writer fight for his identity and actually win like Polding does on My Streets.
Highlights on the disc are the Warren Zevon vibe of “Empty.” Polding’s voice is bold and clear, shooting straight through the center of this building composition until it pops into a great, step chorus, complete with banjos, mandolins and more. The verses are smooth and uncluttered, leaving each player room to make the chorus bigger than big. The guitar sounds of Pete Wood and Mike Maino are layered, intelligently simple and filled with tone for days.
The influential rebellion of John Cougar Mellencamp is obvious on “One Dance,” as Polding and crew roll it out with the lonesome violin sounds of Gary Oleyar before Polding takes his raspy, troubadour command. Acoustic guitar accompanies his voice into the infectious pre-chorus bridge before heading into the second verse to ride along the percussive shakers and bongo hits of Chris O’Hara.
“Hey Jeni” is a straight up rocker that Polding twists hard, moving the entire song from standard bar band fare to supreme and original country-tinged gold. Acoustic guitars bash it up as the band kicks hard and heavy. When he reaches out and unleashes lap steel pit bull Dave Hadely, this rocker jumps into the Nashville mainstream with a Jersey delivered blitzkrieg of head-on attitude that you just can’t avoid slapping your knee to.
Gary Oleyar once again takes front and center on the up-tempo hillbilly sounds of “Painted On A Smile.” Feeling somewhere between the commercial and compositional smarts of Darius Rucker and the lonesome, truck stop vibe of George Strait, “Painted On A Smile” runs the country gamut like a pro. Violins dance and intertwine with pedal steel and electric guitars as pianos sprinkle melodic rain down over the pocket tight rhythms of Chris O’Hara and Muddy Shews. Shews is yet another veteran performer on this disc and he’s played with everyone from Hubert Sumlin to Buddy Miles.
Other notable highlights include the tasteful guitar work of Mike Maino on “Lend Me Your Heart.” Maino focuses the middle eight with an arpeggio-like sweep of melodic taste and feel before flipping the go switch and summing up with a fiery flurry of well-placed notes, merging seamlessly as Polding shoots back into the mix with his lyrical word play.
Refreshing and different, Bob Polding’s My Streets stakes a claim for a vibrant direction in Jersey music. Moving away from the typical shore band comparisons will only strengthen this band’s presence and national popularity. For more info on Bob Polding and his phenomenal band go check him out at bobpolding.com