Scott Sharrard Brooklyn Bowl March 15 2017
by Beth Parness Photos by Sharon Budman
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It was dazzling tour de force from the first note Scott Sharrard played last Wed, appearing with his Brickyard band at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring Brickyard members Moses Patrou on drums, Todd Caldwell on keyboards, Andy Hess on bass, with guest appearances by Connor Kennedy, and Adam Minkoff on guitars, and the sultry Elise Testone on vocals. Critical acclaim has met Sharrard at every turn, and the devotion of his fan base runs deep, braving the bitterly cold weather to attend Wed night’s performance. The show kicked off with Debt, an original tune penned by Sharrard riding shotgun out of the woodshed with funk percolated finger picking on guitar, Al Green-like signature bass lines, spiked with a double shot of Bobby Blue Bland inspired soul, shaken and distilled by Scott’s incredibly elastic, clear and emotive voice and served straight up. The excitement spilled over into the infectious instant classic entitled The High Cost of Loving you, co-written by Scott Sharrard and Mark Franklin of the Greg Allman and Memphis based The Bo-keys, soon to released on Sharrard’s new album entitled Saving Grace due to drop in late 2017. Opening with Sharrard’s euphonious vocals cutting deep into the meter of those funky Memphis tinged blues, he unleashes an incendiary myth-shattering soulful guitar solo with a trajectory reminiscent of early Clapton. Sharrard however is no imitator, he exudes originality, he is in a class by himself.
Sharrard’s playing parallel’s the way he speaks, carefully, yet imaginatively, with economically chosen notes in all the right places, like a French Impressionist painter, with dabs of colors placed where they might have the most effect. Saving Grace, the title song of his new album, bass bombed out of the gate, followed by Sharrard’s plaintive vocals kicking in, wishful and lovelorn. Sharrard nails it straight from the heart. Caldwell segues into a seditiously swampy solo on organ, as Patrou punctuates the party, perfectly in the pocket on drums. She Can’t Wait, an uptempo R & B influenced original, featured Sharrard on vocals, which are remarkably elastic, expressive with a wide range that extends up to high D above middle C brimming with passion, sensitivity and color. In fact, Sharrard’s voice reminds me distinctly of the late, the great “Philosopher of Soul”, R & B star, and Stax records artist, Johnnie Taylor. Sharrard like Taylor navigated seamlessly between Blues, R & B, Gospel, Soul, Funk and Jazz, with a protean changability, using whatever the aesthetics of the music required. Words Can’t Say, was up next, fresh off the new album, and seasoned with an earthy R & B texture and resonance, stirred by Sharrard’s heartfelt, gospel inflected vocals, and sauced up by the band with soulful, steamy, fat marbeled chords on Caldwell’s venerable Hammond B3. Lying to Yourself, a surefooted groove centered original number penned by Moses Patrou, highlighted his rootsy, effervescent vocals, relaxed yet funky drumming upon which Sharrard layered juicy vocal harmonies, and a lush vertigineously structured slide guitar vamp during which everyone tore off their boots, and hit the dance floor.
From the video channel of Tom Pragliola
Connor Kennedy joined the band at this juncture, adding bright vocals and a second guitar, and Vox to the mix, to perform his original song entitled, Look Away, a psychedelically dipped, riffcentric gem, with hues of Derek Trucks’ Indian influences, draped over a droning cadence propelled by pulsating bass lines that reverberated through the walls of the Bowl. Endless Road, a Sharrard original downtempo romp, featured Sharrard’s shimmery high falsetto voice, Kennedy’s bluesy bolts of funky abandon on guitar, blazingly deconstructed into a liberating jazzy denoument, and more of Sharrard’s stinging, architecturally taut blues soloing. An instant classic. Lovin You by the great Johnny Guitar Watson was next with Adam Minkoff guesting on clavinet.Sharrard ripped the scales while never falling off the rails, shredding in a blues basted, blistering run, with Patrou leaning into the drumkit with an infallible groove, leaving the audience literally breathless. Driving Wheel written by Roosevelt Sykes, better known as “the Honeydripper” featured Kennedy on Vox and the bodacious vocals of Elise Testone, a soul-baring intense belter, dripping with rip roaring blues swaggery, gritty and sumptious, yet smooth as silk. An all out conflagration ensued next with Whole Lotta Love by Zeppelin, which morphed into a that famously and harmonically multi faceted classic, Mountain Jam, from Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers, Testone guesting on vocals, Adam Minkoff on 2nd guitar, and Kennedy on clavinet. Sharrard and Minkoff traded taut and lush twin leads in harmonic 3rds with rhythmic precision using Duane Allman and Dicky Betts as blueprints, but delivered with an innovative wizardry all their own, then returning back to a baudy Whole Lotta Love. This was followed by Stranger in A Strange Land and the finale, the Texas tinged road house rocker, Love Like Kerosene, penned by Sharrard, with Minkoff on guitar and Kennedy on clavinet. Sharrard’s lyrics “Spendin all my money, started smokin cigarettes, been sleeping in the bottle, she’s not finished with me yet” channeled Stevie Ray’s blues in the best way, that is straight from the heart. To this he added a fly catchy pedals to the metal, tires screeching, rubbers being burned guitar riff that immediately stuck in my gut. The audience was left bouncing and screaming for more deep into the night. Critical acclaim has met Sharrard at every turn. I was impressed with Sharrard’s generosity, giving ample musical space to his fellow artists, his accessibility to the audience, and sometimes during the show I swear I felt the hair on the back of my beck standing up as though I was in the presence of a great musician in that classic “where were you when” moment. So catch him while you still can. Run, do not walk to see Scott Sharrard and the Brickyard Band, while they are still playing small venues, and be sure to be on the lookout for their new album Saving Grace due to drop in late 2017, http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/scottsharrard.
Scott Sharrard at The Brooklyn Bowl, 3/15/17:
Lyin’ To Yourself