Album Reviews

Joe Bonamassa - Live At Radio City Music Hall


The hardest working man in music, the self-made blues/rock Titan, Bonamassa must have heard these comments a thousand times in his career. Music cliches aside, Live At Radio City Music Hall, his new live album (the 14th one in 13 years) offers a different take on the many abilities of the Guitar Virtuoso from Utica, NY.

From Bonamassa's personal perspective, this new live album has many significances. It is the Grand Finale of 36 months spent with his half-acoustic and half-electric band on Tour and also a dream come true, by playing in such iconic venue for a born and bred New Yorker like Bonamassa.

Given the importance of the event and the special location in his heart, Jo-Bo showcases his class and talent in many different ways, by re-dressing some of the songs from his latest studio album under form of more bluesy, folk or even funky shaped tunes. In the acoustic part of the show, with what Bonamassa called The Huckleberries part of the band, songs like Different Shades Of Blue or Happier Times dazzle the crowd with a new light.

The electric part of the show is equally intense. Bonamassa, maybe feeling a little bit the tension of playing on home ground, loses no time in onstage banters or indulging himself on long guitar solos. There is an excellent array of musicians on stage with him and the Guitar Maestro uses their skills and artistry in full. From the raw blues atmosphere of Double Trouble (sadly absent from the cd tracklist) to the rampant blues/rock of One Less Cross To Bear, a new track, in which the Horns Session adds an extra spice to the swaggering sound of this fabulous tune.

Many underestimate a vital point, about Joe Bonamassa. He is not just a hugely talented guitarist but he is a very good singer too. The closing version of So, What I Would Do?, offers one of the best vocal live takes this artist has ever given in his long and glorious career. The standing ovation from the crowd, in the end, is totally deserved.

The Radio City Music Hall live recording is, perhaps, one of the best live albums Bonamassa has recorded. There is a real desire and drive, from the American Guitarist, to showcase his knowledge and understanding of different music genres, without falling into the temptation to play his hits over and over again. And he certainly succeeded in doing so.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Live At Radio City Music Hall will be released on 2nd October 2015 and can be purchased at Mascot Label Group or Amazon

Joe Bonamassa World Tour Dates

Uk Tour:


Fabrizio Poggi - Il Soffio Della Liberta'



The aim of who creates art, any form of art, is to bring to the masses that message of culture that, in an era like this, too often get soffocated or totally nullified by the Internet and the various Social Networks.

Fabrizio Poggi from Italy is an artist that respects such statement right to the bone. His new record, Il Soffio Della Liberta' (The Murmur Of Freedom) is a labour of love, inspired by the blues culture and the values and the richness of history that this genre carries. The album has been inspired by a theatrical music performance of the Italian Bluesman, celebrating a century of blues through the songs and the stories of those human heroes that have brought the Afro-American population from slavery to freedom.

The album features some brilliantly revised classics, such as Seeger's We Shall Overcome or Dylan's I Shall Be Released and some powerful Traditionals of the Blues, like Oh Freedom or I Want Jesus To Walk With Me.

Poggi has, in this record, stellar Special Guests to help him accomplishing this splendid music project, artists of the highest calibre like The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Eric Bibb, Charlie Musselwhite, Garth Hudson and many more. Musically, Poggi challenges himself in performing those classics, by offering an highly palatable ensemble of Blues, Folk and Americana. And where his voice can't reach, then there is his fabulous harmonica and the class of the musicians accompanying Poggi, creating some really special vibes on this musical history ride. To hear the closing track of the album, the evergreen Amazing Grace, just on harmonica and voice, it is really something special and almost goose-pumping.

There are several references, on Il Soffio Della Liberta', to Martin Luther King and his importance on inspiring Poggi to create this concept album. In one of his most famous quotes, King once said "You can kill the dreamer, but you can't kill the dream". That is the way in which the Italian Artist lives and has always lived his life, by breathing, thinking and living the dream of Blues every single day through his enormous talent.

A work of love, honesty and class. Il Soffio Della Liberta' is musical food for soul.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Il Soffio Della Liberta' can be purchased via Amazon Italia.


Fabrizio Poggi will be touring the United States, please see Tour Dates below:

September 27th - Gruene Hall, New Braunfels, TX

October 2nd - Hondo's On Main, Fredericksburgh, TX

October 3rd - Poodie's Party, Spicewood, TX


Everybody Wants A Piece - Joe Louis Walker



It's quite remarkable that some artists like Joe Louis Walker manage to sustain an incredible quality of sound and energy as the years go by, even after something like 20 plus albums recorded. Everybody Wants A Piece, out on 9th October, is his new, highly entertaining album, that travels across Walker's music influences since he was a teenager.

On his own admission, to record this album was almost a "no brainer" for Walker and his band, an ensemble of highly skilled musicians that fuses perfectly the spirit and the style of this guitarist Virtuoso.

Walker, together with an indisputable ability as a guitarist, has also the gift to be highly versatile as a songwriter too. Black & Blue is almost a R&B ballad, on which JL Walker talks about conflicts of the heart between a couple and is perhaps one of the songs where the whole band has the opportunity to flex their musical muscles splendidly.

Witchcraft has got a very sinuous 70's funky tempo. One Sunny Day carries instead that blues/rock torch so much loved by Walker throughout his career. Gospel Blues is a delicate instrumental blues piece, where the ability and the class of the American Artist in playing guitar, with that nocturnal, almost intimate sound, raises straight to bar 10 in excellence and talent.

Buddy Guy's cover of Man Of Many Words has got that real depth and intensity able to rival even the original, through the powerful voice of Walker, his formidable band and a horn section that gives the feeling of being in the presence of a true R&B orchestra.

A record that oozes authenticity and passion for the blues and all the different musical shades or colors applicable to the genre. 

Everybody Wants A Piece offers exactly what the album describes in his title. Eleven songs that each contain a piece of the talent of this gifted musician. A truly beautiful album.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato




Everybody Wants A Piece can be pre-ordered on Mascot Label Group website or through Amazon

Chantel McGregor - Lose Control


It is always very refreshing to see artists that love to progress their musical education. Chantel McGregor is one of the most gifted artists of the Nouvelle Vague of the English Blues/Rock Invasion. Through her new album, Lose Control, she moves into darker territories, whilst maintaining a refreshing sound, suspended half a way between the 90's rock/grungy style and the lyrical approach of a modern troubadour.

Lose Control has been labelled by the Artist Herself as a "Southern Gothic" music style, with McGregor's guitar leading occasionally into heavier sounds, such as the trilogy of songs that open the album (Take The Power, Your Fever, Burn Your Anger) or walking into acoustic escapisms in delicate tracks such as Home, in which McGregor's voice becomes the centrepiece of the song, showcasing her amazing singing style.

There are some sublime surprises in this highly interesting album. Eternal Dream is a true homage to artists like Jeff Buckley, in which the English artist manages to create an ethereal atmosphere, through the sound of her dreamy guitar and the timeless magic that resonates from McGregor's voice.

Killing Time is a rock riff-packed song, with an angry, racous sound that echoes that wonderful pastiche of sound that bands like Smashing Pumpkins loved to create in the 90s, with McGregor's guitar offering, in our view, the best guitar arpeggios of the entire album.

Chantel McGregor didn't yet finish though, to surprise the listeners. The closing track, Walk On Land, is a contemporary take on the Progressive Rock of the 70's, with a powerful, solid, masterly solo from McGregor's guitar that showcases, once again, her incredible ability.

A strong album, both lyrically and sonically and a solid step ahead in McGregor's career. Lose Control is the resounding message of an artist determined to leave her mark in the future of music.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Lose Control will be released in October 2015 and can be purchased on Chantel McGregor Official Website

ARMIES: Playing With Friendly Fire

ARMIES: Playing with Friendly Fire

After twenty six years writing funk-rock songs for the seven piece, high energy, Rustic Overtones, Dave Gutter has written what some say may be his best work yet. The twelve songs that make up the ARMIES record are a meld of electro pop with duet style anthems inspired by French Pop of the sixties. When I explain Gutters description to friends, their reply is, “Well, I don’t really know what French Pop of the sixties is like.” My response is “You know, neither do I, but this record is exactly what I would imagine it to sound like”.

Read more: ARMIES: Playing With Friendly Fire

Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado - Songs From The Road



Too Many Roads, the music masterpiece Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado released last year was not just a coincidence. The Danish collective recorded a bunch of excellent albums prior to their 2014 universally acclaimed album but, as often happens in the strange world of the music industry, they got media attention just in their native country.

Last year's album projected Risager and the band so far that their album was recognised as one of the best albums of the year by many Blues magazines and medias in general. Flying high on Too Many Roads' worldwide success, Risager & The Black Tornado decided to record a live album in Germany, one of the countries where some of their largest number of fans are based, through Ruf Records, one of the biggest European Labels and a strong supporter of Risager & The Black Tornado's music style.

The album, released as a CD & DVD, as in the spirit of the Songs From The Road album series, shows in full the immense craftmanship of the whole band. When they hit the stage as a 10-piece mini orchestra, the crowd may just start to wonder how the show is going to unfold and Risager & Co. waste no time.

The attack of If You Wanna Leave is strong, bluesy and ballsy and Risager's voice is one of the deepest, most intriguing voice of the entire music scene. Paradise is sexy in its funky sound, Rock 'n' Roll Ride let the whole band open up their full potential like a music flower, with the the three-piece Horn Section supporting beautifully the strong sonic alchemy coming from Risager & The Black Tornado. Through The Tears is a powerful ballad and one of the most poignant moments of the show, with some  excellent killer guitar solos from Peter Skjerning of The Black Tornado, which showcases his brilliancy even further also on the evergreen Let The Good Times Roll, towards the end of the show.

The whole band is an authentic music machine, ready to switch from blues to funk to R&B, incorporating elements of jazz and rock in a formula that, if considered as a winner on a studio recording, on a live show goes few notches further.

Music is a fabulous art and there are very few bands out there, able to sound as good as Thornbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado. A treat for all music lovers.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato


Songs From The Road can be purchased via Ruf Records or Amazon



The Robert Cray Band - 4 Nights Of 40 Years Live


Robert Cray is one of those artists that reminds of opening a fine and expensive bottle of the best Californian wine. The outcome tastes better and better as the years go by, exactly like Cray's music. 4 Nights Of 40 Years Live, his latest release, is a captivating documentary of the career of an exceptional guitarist, a very talented songwriter and a music innovator.

Recorded in four different venues in California, under the impeccable supervision and production of Steve Jordan (also present as additional drummer on some of the live tracks), the 2-CD and DVD Boxset travels around the whole career of the American guitarist, sounding always so fresh and contemporary as those songs were written in present time. The "Strong Persuader" album has a big presence, as expected, with some of the most famous songs from Cray's ample music catalogue. In particular, Smoking Gun, I Guess I Showed Her and Still Around, all present on CD2 and recorded live in 1987 at a TV show in Netherland, bring back memories of that style and class of one of the best albums of that decade, with Cray and the Band in fabulous form.

The Bad Influence song from the 1983 album of the same name and These Things from the Midnight Stroll album are the true masterpieces of this live recording. Cray's solos are so deep, meaningful, exactly as his singing style is. Richard Cousins on bass fuses perfectly his bass lines with the harmonies generated by Cray's guitar, with Les Falconer on drums and Dover Weinberg on keys to complete the fantastic sonic rug of a blues-soul-funk band at the top of their game.

The DVD is a perfect journal of this live set, with tributes to Cray's artistry coming from artists of the calibre of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt. If there is people out there that has not had the privilege yet to see The Robert Cray Band live, this DVD offers certainly the best possible glimpse of what a live show from this band may sound.

Honest, immediate, intense and powerful, this live recording is the true mirror of Cray's  personality and his great artistic dimension. The Robert Cray Band could never sound any better than this.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



4 Nights Of 40 Years can be purchased via Mascot Label Group and Amazon

The Robert Cray Band upcoming Tour Dates




Neal Morse - Morsefest! 2014 - Testimony And One Live



In these modern times, talking of bringing an entire Prog-Rock show to the masses, like the one the California-born Prog-Rock Phenomenon Neal Morse did, is somehow an authentic miracle. A miracle made of sheer passion and belief for a genre that has created the platform, back in the 70's, for the whole rock generation of the 80's and 90's.  Morsefest! 2014 is not one of those Pomp And Circumstances type of releases but a real musical celebration of the genre of phenomenal quality,  through the generous album package of 4 CDs and 2 DVDS.

Neal Morse, through his solo career and previously with bands of the calibre of Transatlantic, Spock's Beard and Flying Colors, has maintained very successfully that music integrity and deep respect towards this music style that made and still make of him one of the most  respected musicians not just only within the Progressive Music World but worldwide.

Morsefest! 2014 is something that unconsciously, must have been in the back of Morse's mind for quite sometimes, although just thanks to an insisting church Pastor and an inspiring talk to Morse's wife, it finally saw the light of the day.

The live album includes the whole two-days setlist, in which Morse played two of his most pivotal albums, Testimony and One in their entirety. Despite the vaste quantity of music on this quadruple CD, there is never a dull moment throughout the whole performances. Through the extraordinary support of his long time fellow friend musician Mike Portnoy and a full orchestra behind him, Morse tells, through these two albums, his whole autobiography in music with such passion, devotion and honesty second to none, especially in tracks like "Long Story" "...

The girl I loved went off and got married to a millionaire, for fifty dollars I'd play five hours in the desert air. Some of us have to hit bottom before we'll ever see above the ground...".

There are some real special moments in this live album; Morse does not leave behind his many music side projects and the little masterpieces he wrote with them and use such wonderful music creations as part of his Encores. When everyone at these shows thought they had been blessed, by witnessing the Spock's Beard wonderful renditions of Wind At My Back or The Light, they certainly did not see coming the gigantic 30-minutes-plus version of the classic Stranger In Your Soul by Transatlantic. No better way to close the whole life circle in music for Neal Morse and his devoted fans on this weekend of Progressive feast.

The magnitude of the album, the artistry of Morse and the whole array of musicians accompaining him are first class. Even the slightly indulging instrumental moments can be easily forgiven, given the spectacular level of craftmanship on this live album. For Those About To Prog Rock, as Neal Morse certainly represents beautifully, We Salute You.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Morsefest 2014! will be released on 21st August 2015 and can be purchased Here

Old Glory And The Wild Revival - Jared James Nichols



It is almost a twist of fate the fact that Jared James Nichols was born and raised in the same street where the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan had his final concert, before Vaughan's passing. Nichols, despite his young age, has already accumulated a highly noticeable "Palmares" of attention in the music business, both by fellow artists, for which he has been opening as a support act through the years (from Derek Trucks to ZZ Top!) and blues/rock fans.

His 2012 EP debut, Live At The Viper Room, was already a true statement of his guitar ability combined with a very poweerful voice. Nichols' deep understanding about rock and blues is highly remarkable and his first, full-length album, Old Glory And The Wild Revival is a clear demonstration of such knowledge, acquired through many years of live performing.

Nichols doesn't pull back in any moment of the record; Now Or Never and Come On In My Kitchen smell of old-fashion-feet-stomping blues canteens, whilst Can You Feel It? is still bluesy and ballsy and, at the same time, carrying lovely memories of the first AC/DC period with Bon Scott.

Playin' For Keeps, both as studio and live version is pure, boombastic rock, with Dennis Holm on drums commanding the different change of tempos whilst Nichols' guitar solo, especially on the live version that close the album, is an absolute joy to listen to. The greatest aspect of this track is Nichols' thunderous guitar, which is able to suspend the listeners in a music time capsule, half a way between Hendrix's sound and Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard best guitar riffs ever.

Jared James Nichols flexes his music muscles superbly throughout the record, showing a superb variety of skills, both as a musician and as a singer.

If Old Glory And The Wild Revival is a truly tasty aperitive for Nichols' career, blues/rock lovers are in for a great hangover of music treats for the years to come.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Old Glory And The Wild Revival can be purchased on Amazon

Jared James Nichols Infos and Tour Dates are available at the following link: Jared James Nichols

Groove Is King - Rock Candy Funk Party


It is a true blessing, in the present music generation, to see and hear still musicians that fuse together the idea of evolution and improvisation, translating it into the music they love the most. Groove Is King mirrors perfectly this concept. Put together an ensemble of highly refined and skilled musicians, willing to explore different music styles, 70's and 80's samples and tease their audience with sudden change of tempos and there you will find Rock Candy Funk Party.

Once just a duo project and started in 2007 by Tal Bergman on drums and Ron DeJesus on guitar,  the idea of instrumentally mashing together the results of music experiences collected through the years went exponentially massive, in the minds of these two musicians. So much that Bergman (band leader and producer of RCFP) and DeJesus decided to join forces with guitar genius Joe Bonamassa and one of the best bass player in the American circuit, Mike Merritt, to form Rock Candy Funk Party.

We Want O' Groove, their first album released in 2013, saw Renato Neto on keyboards completing the line-up of the band, in what proved to be a fabulous free-form album, in which the interplay between the band members created a stunning crossover of instrumental recording of soul, jazz, funk and fusion.

Groove Is King is the natural progression of their previous album. There is a total escapism of the whole band from any music parameter in each individual track of this highly palatable album. This time around though, RCFP have gone even one notch further by adding a horn section of the highest standard, by having Randy Brecker on trumpet, James Campagnola on saxophone and Ada Rovatti on saxophone too. To complete the ensemble of such a spectacular line-up, Daniel Sadownick on percussion and Fred Kron on keyboards bring that extra spice that serves perfectly the experimental structure of this All-Star Band.

The whole album is a full disassemble and a clear representation of the band's name and musical meaning. You can get the "Rock" effect by listening to the title-track Groove Is King or Uber Station, not to mention the presence of the great Billy Gibbons as Guest MC on the intro and two segues of the album.

The "Candy" come through tracks like If Six Was Eight, a fabulous tribal duet between Bergman and Sadownick and Rock Candy, a 70's jazz tune that carries memories of John Scofield's sound style, with a fabulous bass line by Mike Merritt. On the same tune, Bonamassa's guitar solos take charge in such a gigantic way half a way of the track. The power, fluidity and class shown by Bonamassa on the Rock Candy's tune are really something  special. Personally, I feel they are some of the best guitar solos the Italo-American Virtuoso has put on a studio album for quite some time.


The "Funk" part is one of the most entertaining of the album, carrying echoes of Prince-meet-Nile Rodgers in the raw and sexy Low Tide or the highly energetic tempo of Don't Funk With Me.

The "Party" factor is what makes this band really extraordinary. There is a special treat for every music lover, from the 70's Saturday Night Disco tempo of Don't Be Stingy With The SMPTE, moving into the groove of The 6 Train To The Bronx, arriving to the Prodigy-meet-The Chemical Brothers-meet-Led Zeppelin stratospheric finale of The Fabulous Tales Of Two Bands.

This record is a clear demonstration of what music is and should be all about; improvisations, craftmanship, deep understanding of music history and a damn fine ability. Big credit to Tal Bergman for assembling such great musicians all together in the same room and believing in one of the most original music projects on the whole music scene worldwide. If this album would be a road, it would be the runway to the future of music. Truly excellent album.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato


Groove Is King is out now and can be purchased via Mascot Label Group or via Amazon


Warren Haynes - Ashes & Dust


Never give for grant what Warren Haynes' next project may be. In his long and successful career, the American guitarist has often surprised medias and fans with his unpredictable and highly brilliant changes of music direction, incontrovertable sign of great knowledge, appreciation and deep understanding of music at 360 degrees.

Ashes & Dust is a record that Haynes had in his mind for a very long time, given the fact that some of the songs of the album have been written almost 25 years ago. Somehow, though, for various reasons, those songs never managed to fit on any record that Haynes had previously done with the Mule or with the Allman Brothers, right until now.

Lyrically, the album is an intimate excursion into friendship, loss, distance and redemption, sang with that typical honesty and pathos by Haynes. In some aspects, Ashes & Dust, musically speaking, is a true revelation. The guitarist manages to assemble a wonderful combustion of Americana with hints of folk, blues and roots, splendidly supported by the Railroad Earth, a group of musicians that Haynes has been knowing and played with for quite some time. The quality, the beauty and the intensity of Warren Haynes' slide guitar sound too, on this record, is a further demonstration of the immense skills in the music repertoire of the American guitarist/singer/songwriter. 

Blue Maiden's Tale, one of the tracks of the album, echoes almost an ethereal, Celtic type of sound that works wonderfully as a platform for Warren Haynes' lyrics: "There's a story, no one knows if it is true, about a maiden, just as pretty as you."

Haynes' new record is possibly one of the most personal and passionate music journey that this fabulous artist has created throughout his entire career. A truly, fabulous album.


Giovanni "Gio" Pilato


Ashes & Dust can be purchased via Mascot Label Group or via Amazon

Out On The Tiles

FBI Live at the House of Blues: Boston.

Jon Butcher and Charlie Farren of Farren Butcher Incorporated, FBI.

House of Blues, Boston. Foundation Room.

March 17, 2012.

Review and Photography by Bluebird.

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Dont let the name fool you! Maine Music News provides live concert reviews and photography for shows throughout all of New England. Our photographers cover shows in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and anywhere else we can! Our writers provide detailed album reviews and expertly written interviews as well. We may be called Maine Music News, but we dont let the Maine border stop us!