Michael  Falzarano

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Friday Blues Fix, Blues Bytes June 1 2015

 Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Graham Clarke

Michael Falzarano has covered a lot of musical ground over his 45+year career.  He’s played with Hot Tuna, The Jorma Kaukonen Trio, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, and his own bands The Memphis Pilgrims, and The Extended Family. Falzarano’s latest release, I Got Blues For Ya (Hypnotation/Woodstock Records) offers a dozen excellent tracks of blues and roots, with ten originals from the singer/songwriter/guitarist and two compelling covers.

The originals include the opener, “The Night King Curtis Died,” a grinding rocker about the infamous day the R&B legend was killed that’s driven by Falzarano’s anguished vocals and Kane Daily’s screaming slide guitar.  The title track has a crunching Diddley-esque guitar rhythm and an intense vocal from Falzarano.  “I Never Think About You” changes tempos a bit, moving to a mellow feel with stinging lead work from guitarist Josh Colow, B3 and piano courtesy of Professor Louie and sweet backing vocals from the good Professor and Miss Marie.

The jumping “Snake Box Boogie” will get the party on their feet in a hurry, with more great work on the keys from Professor Louie and guitar from Colow.  The country groover “Big Fish” showcases Kerry Kearney on slide guitar and the late Vassar Clements on fiddle, followed by the rollicking shuffle, “We Got A Party Going On,” and the southern rocker “Good Good Lovin’.”  Falzarano takes on a familiar topic, dealing with the devil, on the next two tunes, the hypnotic boogie “Crossroads Avenue” and “The Devil’s Gone Fishin’,” which features some tasty fretwork from Kearney.  “Trouble” also cites the devil, this time as a female with black hair, dressed in red.

The covers include a live version of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” with Falzarano backed by Jam Stampede.  His soulful vocal is backed powerfully by Jason Crosby’s fiddle and Barry Mitterhoff’s mandolin.  Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Work Together” closes the disc on an optimistic, and rocking, note.

Falzarano’s warm vocals are ideally suited for his material, giving the tunes a comfortable lived-in feeling.  You feel like you know these songs even though you’re hearing them for the first time.  A tip of the hat also goes to the numerous backing musicians.  The lead guitarists (Daily, Kearney, Colow, Mike Miz) really stand out, as do the keyboards from Professor Louie and Pete Sears. 

Falzarano’s intention with I Got Blues For Ya was “to get back to his blues roots and make an album that sounded like a late 60’s/early 70’s blues rock record.”  It’s safe to say that he succeeded on both counts, which is great because there’s not nearly enough of this music out there these days.  This is an outstanding and diverse release of blues and roots music

Southland Blues News Letter Vol. 8 Number 21 May 21 2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Jim Santella 

 

          Contemporary songs from veteran bluesman Michael Falzarano give this session an easy-going spirit that comes framed with hot, slide guitar and a motivated band. The leader's gritty voice gives each selection a laid-back ambience to match his intention: to deliver a message that relates to his audience. Topics include everyday elements such as relationships, the Devil, death, and reputations. His tribute to Robert Johnson on "Crossroads Avenue" pours forth age-old blues talk with a spiritual coating. The same is true for Falzarano's slow interpretation of "The Night King Curtis Died," and his jumpin' and jivin' "Snake Box Boogie."

          The title track, on the other hand, moves fast and frenetic with little regard for lyrics as Falzarano and his band spread "I Got the Blues For Ya" all over the place with thrumming guitars that keep up a constant drone in a hard rock scenario. Most of the album takes pure blues for what it is. The title track represents an anomaly. His interpretation of the Reverend Gary Davis song "Death Don't Have No Mercy" represents the best of Falzarano's work and remains familiar to any audience.

 

Smoky Mtn. Blues Society April 2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Blue Barry

Michael Falzarano’s new “I got blues for ya” CD is gonna’ make you a happy listener!  Singer/songwriter, and guitarist Michael Falzarano has laid a beauty right in our laps!  Having shown his acoustic prowess with Hot Tuna and the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Michael unloads on this one with 10 originals, and 2 covers of blues classics.   His two classic covers are two of my very most favorite tunes of all time.  The Reverend Gary Davis’s “Death Ain’t Got No Mercy,” and Canned Heats “Let’s Work Together.”  Michael’s guitar work is on the money, and his vocals fit right in.  With an ace band, and a few guests, this is a most excellent offering.  Kane Dailey on slide, and Charlie Wolfe on harp just nail it.  Pete Sears on keyboards is killer too!  Having toured throughout the United States and Europe, well, and, Japan and Scandinavia he is will traveled, and has close to 50 years experience under his blues belt.  While you’re hanging around go here MICHAELFALZARANO.COM for more info.  When not on the road he teaches at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch.  Michael has outdone himself and I am sure he is pleased with this wonderful CD.  If you are an acoustic lover or prefer electric, you will find something on here you will like.  CD’s are available from CDbaby.com if you can’t locate one in your local store.  Michael has the feel, the touch, and great people to play with.  So many good musicians here.  This is an excellent CD. 

The Crossroads Blues Society Newsletter, The Groove May-June 2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By John Mitchell

Michael Falzarano is a veteran musician who has played with Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and still plays with The New Riders Of The Purple Sage. This project, however, is centered upon New York where all the material was recorded, across three studio sessions and one live performance. Michael wrote all the material apart from two covers and his gruff vocal is the common thread across all these tracks.

The studio sessions were recorded in Brooklyn and Woodstock and feature Michael on guitar and vocals with a wide range of supporting musicians: Kane Daily, Josh Colow or Kerry Kearney on guitar, Chris Matheos, Klyph Black, Frank Campbell, Peter Bennett or Frank Celenza on bass, Ray Grappone, Christian Cassan, Gary Burke or Eileen Murphy on drums, Professor Louie, Jon Marshall Smith, Pete Sears or Harley Fine on keyboards, Vassar Clements on fiddle, Jimmie Fleming on mandolin, Charlie Wolfe on harp, Lisa Bouchelle, Alexis P Suter and Miss Marie on backing vocals. The live track was also recorded in Brooklyn and finds Michael on acoustic guitar and vocals with Jam Stampede: Mike Miz and Tom Circosta, guitar; Freeman White, keys; Klyph Black, bass; Dave Diamond and Johnny Markowski, drums; Barry Mitterhof, mandolin; Jason Crosby, fiddle.

That live track is an extended acoustic version of Rev Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” with fiddle and mandolin to the fore. “Crossroads Avenue (Crossroads Revisited)” is re-mastered from an earlier CD “The King James Ses-sions” and it’s a good blues with plenty going on: Alexis P Suter’s background vocals brings gospel tones, the piano and mandolin bring some honky tonk feel and the harp and slide combination bring us back to Delta blues. The three tracks recorded in Woodstock offer three very different approaches with the raucous “Snake Box Boogie” being sufficiently extended to allow plenty of dazzling piano work from Professor Louie and flashing leads from Josh Colow. The sardonic lyrics of “I Never Think About You” provide the ultimate putdown: “I know you think I still love you, babe, but nothing could be further from the truth, the truth is I never think about you”. Michael’s voice fits this one like a glove and Josh’s lead guitar is right on the money on one of the highlight tracks here. “We Got A Party Going On” delivers on its title with a very ‘live’ feel.

The main sessions make up the remaining eight tracks. Opener “The Night King Curtis Died” is a churning blues with Michael’s booming vocal and Kane’s slide work particularly strong. The title track has a Bo Diddley beat and “Big Fish” some jaunty slide work from Kerry which, along with Vassar’s fiddle, gives the tune a country blues feel. Lyrically Michael takes another swipe at someone who has an inflated sense of importance: “Baby, you think you’re such a big fish. I got news for you, honey, you don’t mean that much to me”. “Good Good Lovin’” is a strong cut, a rocker with plenty of slide from Kane and a catchy chorus and “Trouble” follows a similar path, Michael’s vocal reminding us of Dylan in his country blues period. “The Devil’s Gone Fishin’” is a slower blues with Kerry’s lead guitar well supported by Professor Louie’s piano and organ work and the album closest Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Work Together” with more excellent guitar playing from Kane. Solid playing from a wide range of musicians on some good songs makes this a set worth checking out.

WTJU Blues News  4/28/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

 

Singer/guitarist Falzarano has been around for quite a while and, in addition to his teaching blues workshops at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch, he has performed with Hot Tuna, Jorma and New Riders of the Purple Sage.  The mostly original music is solid, journeyman, blues-based rock & roll.  There’s no pyrotechnic display here, there is a steady groove and musical support from Kane Daily (g), Professor Louie (keys), Kerry Kearney (g) and guest spots from Vassar Clements (fiddle) and a host of others, many of whom are associated with the Woodstock area.  It's like having your own jam right there in your own back yard and the party could last all night. The live performance of “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is especially nice

 

PBS 106.7- MelBourne, Australia  4/17/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Peter Merrett

Wow, wow, wow what an album, one that l savored from start to finish. I could lay down a thousand platitudes about it but that would not be enough. From Falzarano's singing, guitar and songwriting to what would have to be one of the finest Blues bands going around!!!! There is not one instance on this album that you could call weak or just plain filler, thankfully it is all killer. Blues is certainly in good hands here. Congratulations Michael Falzarano and your cast of thousands you certainly have upped the anti for everybody else!

l really got into this one, what a killer of an album!. I don't know how else to say it but man l was in Blues heaven listening to this modern take on traditional Blues that never once insulted or belittled the past masters but displayed a wonderful grasp on what came before and a look into the future and that looks just fine.

Track 1. - "The Night King Curtis Died." A powerful down and dirty grinding Blues certainly sets a high standard to this album. A fitting tribute to saxophone maestro King Curtis. Falzarano's guitar is menacing and sensual biting into the soul of the listener as he plays with his trademark take no prisoners style. Daily provides the biting slide. The band is simply stunning. Such a high standard to kick off the album, but will he be able to continue to match it or even better it. 

Track 2. - "I Got Blues For Ya". A full on guitar assault has Falzarano's guitar and Daily's slide sitting side by side as Cassan's drums are impeccable as is all of the rhythm section. Why was l worried about whether or not they could maintain the powerful standard. They simply knock it out of the park!

Track 3. - "I Never Think About You". On this one we are introduced to the piano and Hammond playing of one Professor Louie and lead guitar from Colow. Backing vocals add a tantalizing addition to Falzarano's plaintive vocals. Powerful and all conquering sound that oozes pathos and angst. This is one that holds you in a web of slow powerful beautifully structured Blues.

Track 4. - "Snake Box Boogie". Man if you are gonna play the Blues you have to be able to play a bit of "Boogie Chillun"! With a band this good it is a given that they will boogie harder than any band. Professor Louie lays down some solid 88's played with abandon and gusto. Burke's drums are a real statement. Tell ya what l want as much of this boogie as l can get as these guys rock it so much so you can't sit still. It is already after four songs written by Falzarano this guy knows his way around strong powerful Blues. "Boogie Chillun"!!!!!!!

Track 5. - "Big Fish". Country Blues with Kearney laying down some mouth watering slide. Falzarano tells that gal that she is just not that good, blunt and to the point. To keep the feel authentic Clemments's fiddle adds the right feel. Again the band shine through with a flawless performance.

Track 6. - "We Got A Party Going On". Party time with Louie's piano and Wolfe showing his mastery of the reeds within his harmonica. This could well be the ultimate party song. So much to enjoy with the call and response with the vocals. Louie's Hammond is solid and tantalizing as it is subtle but oh so good.  Hey let me know when you guys are having your next party as l am there and a cast of thousands after they hear this one!

Track 7. - "Good Good Lovin' ". Another full on attack on the listeners senses as they try to absorb all that is coming from their speakers. So many elements and nuances abound. Daily leaves nothing to the imagination as his slide is supreme. The inter action with the vocals of Falzarano and Bouchelle is simply stunning and a match made at the crossroads. This is how you get your message across!

Track 8. - "Crossroads Avenue" A more traditional look at the Blues incorporating the mystical and mythical Crossroads. The band is of the highest caliber with everybody proving a wall of Blues that most certainly have a mojo hand. Again Falzarano provides perfect vocals with impeccable phrasing. Wolfe again lays down his stunning harmonica. Traditional Blues played with due reverence to the past masters. 

Track 9. - "The Devil's Gone Fishin' ". Back into a Chicago feel as Kearney provides face shredding guitar in his take no prisoners style. Falzarano is certainly in a fight to keep his lady and his vocals convey that powerfully. Louie lays down some solid 88's that give a smokey Blues Bar feel, maybe at Buddy Guy's! One thing for certain about this album is that it has a live feel about it and that adds to the pleasure of listening. Murphy takes the drumming duties and she has a mighty fine feel with her style.

Track 10. - "Death Don't Have No Mercy". A wonderful interpretation of a Rev. Gary Davis classic. Given a more vintage feel with the orchestration adds a whole new element to it. Crosby shines with his expressive emotive fiddle that is downright decadent. The acoustic guitars of Stampede, Miz and Circosta shine on this live track recorded at the Brooklyn Bowl. Mitterhoff is stunning on the mandolin. Falzarano has the right feel and angst in his voice, so much so you could easily be excused for thinking he had written this one himself. What a show this must have been. Man that is some mighty fine Blues.

Track 11. - "Trouble". A almost spoken word shuffle with Falzarano lamenting about just how much trouble this she devil is. Louie is certainly the keyboard master of the 88's and assisting here on this one is the keyboards of Fine. Texas Blues played with gusto that is pure enjoyment!

Track 12. - "Lets Work Together". The second cover on the album is this reworking of Wilbert Harrison's rocking R&B from 1962 on the Sue Label. Later to be famously covered by Canned Heat and later by Bryan Ferry. I absolutely love this version that is vibrant and grooves along at a hundred miles per hour. Daily delivers the lead guitar with gusto that is infectious as is Wilbert's plea for peace and good will. This is certainly a full on assault from all of the band and if loving this is wrong then l no longer want to be right. 

Blues Festival Guide 2015  4/17/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Michel Falzarano has been up and down and all around for the better part of five decades and his tough, soulful music confirms it. Stints with Hot Tuna and the New Riders of the Purple Sage among others, add depth and substance to his art. His original song, “Where There’s Two, There’s Trouble” appeared in the feature film Blue Caprice in 2013 and on Jorma Kaukonen’s 2015 Red House release Ain’t In No Hurry while his rollicking forth solo release blasts him to the top.

Ten rousing originals and two creative covers are backed by Kane Dailey, Josh Colow, Kerry Kearney, Mike Miz, (guitar) Professor Louie, Pete Sears, (keyboards) Jimmie Fleming, Barry Mitterhoff (mandolin), Vassar Clements, Jason Crosby (fiddle), Charlie Wolfe, (harmonica) and Alexis P. Suter (backup vocals) among others. The grinding blues “The Night King Curtis Died” is a worthy tribute, Falzarano growling emotionally “I took a ride on the D train the night King Curtis died. Senseless and cold blooded, I was hoping it was a lie,” Daily’s slide guitar screaming in anguish. Roaring guitars intensify the heavy title track and Falzarano’s vehement “I got blues for ya honey, I got ‘em every day… I can’t find no shade…got them day and night.” The gently swaying “I Never Think About You” features the conversational poetry “I know you think I still love you babe, but the truth is I never think about you” and a stinging, six-string rebuke from Colow.

Every noted bluesman kicks the boogie and the dangerous “Snake Box Boogie” strikes with the “Professor’s” driving piano and the call to get down. Guitar hero Kearney contributes slippery slide to “Big Fish” as Falzarano drawls sarcastically “You’re just a big fish ‘cause you’re in a little stream. I got news for you, honey, you don’t mean that much to me.” Believe the boss singer on the rousing shuffle “We Got a Party Going On” when he exhorts “We got the whole joint rocking, champagne corks popping, everybody’s having a ball…”

On “Good, Good Lovin’” Falzarano declares lustily “Out on this highway got my wheels on fire. I’m rolling towards you with a burning desire for some good lovin’” while Daily adds heat on slide guitar. The hypnotic, insinuating “Crossroads Avenue” re-imagines blues mythology with “If you go down, see that hoodoo man. Son, you’d be wise, bring along a mojo hand. Yeah, he’s still living down there on Crossroads Avenue, and he’s got a deal, custom made for you.” Kearney rips hellish licks on “The Devil’s Gone Fishin’” with Falzarano’s passionate testimony “Well, the devil’s gone fishing and got my baby on the hook, with his wicked grin, one look is all it took.”

A live version of Rev. Gary Davis’ haunting minor key classic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” proves Falzarano’s uncontested bonafides, while Crosby saws his fiddle near in half and Mitterhoff spanks his mandolin. The pumping “Trouble” finds Falzarano lamenting “Looking out my window and man, I can’t believe my eyes. I see the devil, all dressed in red with her black hair piled high. Only one thing comes to mind… trouble.” Wilbert Harrison’s optimistic sixties’ classic “Let’s Get Together” ends the show as Falzarano easily “sells” the upbeat message.  

His unsurpassed passion and bottomless reserve of musicality belies the seemingly effortless delivery Michael Falzarano serves up with every note he sings and plays. Blues this exhilarating and deeply moving are to be enthusiastically embraced.   

 

Bman’s Blues Report  4/1/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Bman

I just received a copy of the newest release, I Got Blues For Ya, from Michael Falzarano and it's a riot. Opening with The Night King Curtis Died, a lumbering 12 bar number, features strong vocals, lead and rhythm guitar from Falzarano, bass by Chris Matheos on bass, Ray Grappone on drums and excellent slide work from Kane Daily who has a lot of the feel of slide master Rod Price. Title track, I Got Blues For Ya, is structured along the Bo Diddley beat with a swampy feel and guitar not unlike Peter Green. Klyph Black joins on bass and Christian Cassan joins on drums. Josh Colow takes the lead guitar on I Never Think About You, a bluesy ballad. Professor Louie adds a cool piano runs and Miss Marie gives the track a warm texture on backing vocals. Colow lays out a few really nice compact solos on this track and the Professor rides the B3 high. A hot riding boogie, Snake Box Boogie, has a super beat and Falzarano really grinds this one out with the Professor and Colow for one of my favorite tracks on the release. Big Fish is one of those great laid back tracks with the Elvin Bishop saunter. Vasser Clements' unmistakable sound on fiddle joined by Kerry Kearney on slide and super chops gives this track a real authentic country blues rock feel. Very cool. Shuffle track, We Got A Party Going On, has really hot rolling piano work by the Professor and cheering backing vocals. Colow lays in a pinched guitar solo backed nicely by Frank Campbell on bass and Gary Burke on drums. Good Good Lovin has a cocky beer chugging Lynyrd Skynyrd feel. Daily lays on a slick melodic "Lindley" style slide solo with Jon Marshall Smith on organ and Lisa Bouchelle on backing vocals. Very nice! One of my favorite blues vocalists, Alexis P. Suter joins Falzarano on vocals for a darker, Hooker style boogie, Crossroads Avenue. Jimmie Fleming on mandolin, Pete Sears on piano, Charlie Wolfe on harp, Frank Celenza on bass and Eileen Murphy provide instrumental texture behind this boogie jam track. Slick blues strut, The Devil's Gone Fishin', featuring Kerry Kearney on lead guitar and the Professor on Hammond and piano has a really nice groove. Kearney smokes the strings up pretty good on this one... enjoy! One of my favorite Rev. Gary tracks caught live, Death Don't Have No Mercy, has a life of it's own here with Falzarano on vocal and acoustic guitar, Mike Miz and Tom Circista on acoustic guitar, Freeman White on keys, Klyph Black on bass, Dave Diamond on drums and featuring Barry Mitterhoff and Jason Crosby with excellent mandolin and fiddle work, respectively. Upbeat shuffle, Trouble, is a cool blues number with rolling piano by the Professor, Farfisa organ by Harley Fine, and fine guitar and slide solos by Falzarano, Daily and Kearney. Wrapping the release is a rocking cover of Wilbert Harrison's Let's Work Together. A nicely blended cover featuring concluding solos by Daily and Falzarano and vocals by Falzarano and Miss Marie make this a super closer.

 

The Nashville Blues Society/Blues Blog  3/30/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Sheryl and Don Crow

Michael Falzarano is a veteran of Hot Tuna and New Riders Of The Purple Sage, having contributed guitar and vocals for both bands.  His current backing band, The Extended Family, features many well-known players, and they combine their myriad of talents for Michael’s latest, “I Got Blues For Ya,” ten very well-conceived originals and two covers that show why Michael has been an in-demand player for some 45 years down the blues highway.

His bluesy, gravelly vocal is a perfect match with the call-and-response of Kane Dailey’s crying slide on the leadoff “The Night King Curtis Died.”  Snake Box Boogie” fuses dynamite piano from Professor Louie with that good ole “endless boogie” a la John Lee Hooker.  A cool story about a lover who thinks she’s all that is just a “Big Fish,” and features slide from Kerry Kearney on slide guitar and Vassar Clements on the fiddle.

There are a couple of good “party anthems,” as well.  “We Got A Party Goin’ On” has those “champagne corks poppin” while a woman with that ‘red dress on and black hair piled high” can’t be nothin’ but “Trouble!”  This one has fine piano again from the Professor and Farfisa organ from Harley Fine.  The set closes with a rousing read of Wilbert Harrison’s clarion call for peace, “Let’s Work Together.”

We had two favorites, too.  A haunting, live version of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” takes on a true country-blues feel with Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin and Jason Crosby on fiddle.  And, a downright devilish look at that place where the deal goes down is “Crossroads Avenue,” complete with a “hoodoo man and a mojo hand!”  Alexis P. Suter is right on time with backing vocals, too.

Michael Falzarano has an unbridled passion for the blues that hasn’t waned throughout his career.  “I Got Blues For Ya” continues to add kudos to his impessive resume’!  Until next time…

 

Midwest Record  3/27/2015

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher


So when is a Crowmatix record not a Crowmatix record?  How about when NRPS fellow traveler tells the rest of the Woodstock Records gang that it’s time to put on a show with him out front doing his white boy blues shredding and growling on tracks that are of mostly recent vintage and of special meaning to him?  If this don’t take you back to the Fillmore, nothing will---and Falzarano was actually there.  With pot getting more and more legal, the young ‘uns are probably about to really discover classic rock, underground style.  Hot stuff.

 

No Depression Magazine 1/25/15

Also in East Coast Entertainmant

Michael Falzarano - I Got Blue For Ya  /  Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By by Keith Gorgas

I was familiar with Michael Falzarano’s work since 2005 as the rhythm guitarist of the reformed Country Rock band, The New Riders of The Purple Sage.  I was also aware that he’d performed in a similar role with Hot Tuna.  I’d also heard through the grapevine that he had a credible solo career as a bluesman. All things considered, I wasn’t really prepared for what I’d hear on his latest CD, I Got Blues for Ya.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a late comer to the blues.  Up until a decade ago,  I was totally ignorant of the gendre.  I knew that the Stones and the Gratefull Dead incorporated elements of the blues into their music, but folk and country rock seemed much more interesting to me.  Exposure to various forms of the blues has made me into a fan, but not an expert.

What makes the blues so fascinating is that it mostly involves 5 notes and 3 chords.   An occasional flat note makes things a little interesting.   But with those limited notes, the story of every human emotion can be told. Hurt, pain, joy, lust, abandonment, are told with just a slight variation of tempo.  There’s Slow Blues, Boogies, Walking Blues, Country Blues, Delta Blues, Piedmont Blues, Chicago Blues, and Shuffles.  The Blues have influenced much of Rock & Roll, from the Beatles to Zeppelin to the Mephis Rockabilly Sound.  Even Bluegrass music draws from the Blues.  And the influence of those pioneers of Rock has trickled down and blossomed throughout popular music.  It’s DNA is everywhere.

On I Got Blues for Ya, Michael Falzarano takes us back to the roots.  He’s a white man playing black men’s music, beneath lyrics that are strictly his own.  He fluidly covers all the bases.  He does have the blues for us, and he delivers them in a concise manner;  joyfully, I might add.  Falzarano sounds like he’s having a good time and it’s infectious.  A stellar backing crew brings out the best in the music.  Falzarano is no Sinatra.  He’s got a raspy voice… in fact he sounds a lot like Dylan at times, but the overall product is good, good music.

Falzarano jumps right in with The Night King Curtis Died.  Kane Dailey provides some nice slide guitar work.  The title track, I Got Blues for Ya, comes next.  Zen Trickters bassist Klyph Black joins the mix.

The artist gets personal with I Never Think About You.  Professor Louie graces the song with his piano line.   The up-tempoSnake Box Boogie will get you rocking.  It was a wonderful surprise to hear the late, great Vassar Clements’ signature jazz fiddle sound embellish Big Fish.  This alone is worth the purchase price of the CD.

 Falzarano takes us out for a night on the town with  We Got A Party Going On.   Good Good Lovin tugs at the heart strings.  Like any real bluesman,  Michael Falzarano pays his tribute to Robert Johnson with Crossroads Avenue. Alexis P. Suter lends her passionate voice in harmony to the song.. it’s real, folks.

Devil’s Gone Fishing drags us through the dark valleys of the blues. It has an oppressive tone. It creates a longing; a need for resolution.  We just have to climb out of the hole.

One of the real treats of this CD is the next cut, the Reverend Gary Davis’ classic Death Don’t Have No Mercy.  Falzarano takes up his acoustic guitar and is joined by members of Jam Stampede and Barry Mitteroff.  Mike “Miz” Mizwinski really shines on lead guitar.  All around it is a stellar performance.  The next to last cut, and the last song written by Michael Falzarno, is Trouble.  It’s a fun, frolicking number, and would fit nicely in the New Riders’ set list.  The same could be said for the final track, the anthemic  Let’s Work Together.  You just want to sing along with this song, written by Wilburt Harrison.

All in all, this CD is worthy of a spot in any Blue affectionato’s  collection.  It’s also a must for NRPS freaks.  Honestly, any fan of American roots style music should thoroughly enjoy Michael’s most recent offering

 

The Daily Freeman SOUND ADVICE: 1/01/15

Michael Falzarano’s ‘I Got Blues For Ya’ / Hynotation /Woodstock Records

By David Malachowski

Michael Falzarano’s ‘I Got Blues For Ya’ hits hard

With ties to the Hudson Valley that include work with Woodstock’s beloved Professor Louie & The Crowmatix (who also appear on this release) New York City-based artist Michael Falzarano is a well-loved and well-respected singer and guitarist.

That said, many people that know of Falzarano’s storied career, with long tenures with Hot Tuna and New Riders Of The Purple Sage, as well as his solo outings, may raise an eyebrow hearing the first track of “I Got Blues For Ya,” “The Night King Curtis Died.” And that’s a good thing.

Next to his past work, this collection hits hard, gets down and dirty, gritty and nasty, and often packs quite a visceral wallop. There’s a searing slide guitar (Kane Daily) and a huge, mysterious, even sinister sound. Next up, the title track is epic, in an expansive, “Ghost Riders In The Sky” way, with a live feel. He releases his inner Elvis Costello in “I Never Think About You” (with fine backing by the aforementioned Crowmatix).

“Big Fish” features the late, great Vassar Clements on fiddle, as well as ace guitarist Kerry Kearney and sounds more like the Falzarano of old.

Deep blues “Crossroads Avenue” hits the spot, as does bar-room blues “The Devil’s Gone Fishing,” and the spare acoustic classic “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” (from his Hot Tuna days) gets a fine reading. “Trouble” is actually big fun, (with a Randy Newman-like delivery) while unity anthem “Lets Work Together” brings it all home (though it’s more play than work).

Seemingly without effort, Falzarano finds the heart of the song, the center, and with his warm, welcoming, no frills voice, gets right to the point, a true, timeless artist.

 

Relix Magazine 9/1/2014

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Brain Robbins

Guitarist/vocalist Michael Falzarano has always brought out the best in the players around him, including stints as Jorma Kaukonen’s wingman in Hot Tuna and his present-day role as psychedelicized rhythm cop in the New Riders. When Falzarano’s name is on the label—as it is for his new solo album I Got Blues for Ya—things aren’t any different. A revolving cast of talent (including Crowmatix’ Professor Louie, Kane Daily and Kerry Kearney) assist Falzarano in bluesy greasiness. There are raunch-fests galore, including “The Night King Curtis Died” and “Crossroads Avenue.” Elsewhere, there are gritty hip-grinds like “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” and “I Never Think About You,” and there’s even some playfully brilliant fiddling by the late Vassar Clements (“Big Fish”). Hold on tight: The gloriously jammed-out “Snake Box Boogie” feels like Slim Harpo barrel-assing ZZ Top’s Ford coupe down a dirt road.

 

Hittin' The Note Magazine 10/1/2014

Michael Falzarano - I Got Blue For Ya  /  Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

While he may be best known for his role as the guitar-wielding traffic cop for the New Riders of the Purple Sage or Jorma Kaukonen’s wingman in past editions of Hot Tuna, Michael Falzarano is also a masterful bandleader in his own right.  A blues-fueled rocker blessed with rootsy soul, Falzarano has a knack for infusing whatever scene he’s a part of with a “let’s-play-the-hell-out-of-this-thing” enthusiasm that brings out the best in those alongside him.

I Got Blues For Ya is Falzarano’s latest solo release – a crash course in what makes the man tick.  You may be surprised when reading the liner notes to find out that ten of the album’s dozen tracks are originals penned by Michael; they are loaded with a marrow-warming familiarity that makes them feel like old faves on the first spin.

I Got Blues For Ya kicks off with “The Night King Curtis Died” – a tribute to the legendary hornman that does its hat-tipping with swagger and raunch rather than hearts and flowers – and never looks back.  The title track is a mix of Bo Diddley butt-bump and full-throttle roar; tunes like “The Devil’s Gone Fishing” and “I Never Think About You” are classic, slow blues burners; and “Big Fish” features some sweet fiddle by the late, great Vassar Clements.  When it comes to the sheer joy of locking in on a groove, however, it’s hard to beat “Snake Box Boogie” – over seven minutes worth of grinning greasiness.          This is a guaranteed good time, fo’ sho’.

 

Fab Radio (Italy) 9/2/2014

Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya / Hypnotation/Woodstock Records

By Fabrizio Poggi

A fantastic CD! Michael Falzarano famous for his work with Hot Tuna and the Riders of the Purple Sage. Has released a new CD called I Got Blues For Ya with a bunch of his friends, all excellent musicians. The CD features twelve tracks that lead the way through southern blues with electric, electro-acoustic folk blues, rock 'n' roll and much more. Among the musicians involved are Kane Daily , kerry keareny on slide guitar, Professor Louie on keyboards, Barry Mitteroff the mandolin and the voice of Alexis P. Suter.

 

Musicfrenzy.net

New Riders of the Purple Sage – 17 PINE AVENUE (Woodstock Records)

By Music Frenzy John

 

Country rock or psychedelic Americana.  Call it what you wish but the latest album from the New Riders of the Purple Sage “17 Pine Avenue” is fun, danceable, enjoyable, high-quality music.  The album features 12 new songs, 7 of which were written by David Nelson and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. 

The title track “17 Pine Avenue” is such a groovy track that I literally played it 4 times in a row!  Few songs exude “cool” through its music or lyrics.  This track does it through both.  It has a rhythm that makes you want to strut around town while singing its opening lyrics “Number 17 Pine Avenue.  Corner of Southwest and Coochie Coo.”  It truly sounds like every single person playing on that song is having one hell of a time. 

The album was recorded at Forge Recording by Larry Levin and Brad Kotzmoyer, mastered by Ed Littman, and produced by Michael Falzarano.  I mention this because the sound quality of this recording is superior.  I dare anyone to listen to the drums on “Fivio” and tell me that they aren’t some of the best sounding drums put down by any band.  The tone, the clarity, and just the way Johnny Markowski plays them left me tuned in to the drums on every song.  The pedal steel as played by Buddy Cage helps give the record that country sound.

Band mainstay David Nelson’s vocals shine throughout the album.  His voice is strong and at some points even soothing as he leads his band mates through these songs that have a Travelling Wilburys-ish feel but are 100% New Riders of the Purple Sage!

Jambands.com 3/8/12

New Riders of the Purple Sage – 17 PINE AVENUE (Woodstock Records)

By Brian Robbins

 

Listen: if somehow you’ve missed crossing paths with the New Riders Of The Purple Sage since their 2005 renaissance, then you need to understand something. This is not a band of tired, tie-dyed troubadours seeing out their later years, going through the motions and rehashing their greatest hits – these crazy bastards are still full of life; full of fire; full of music. 17 Pine Avenue is the latest round of proof: a killer studio album featuring a dozen cuts that show off the depth of the band’s talent and their passion for what they’re doing. In short, this is no oldies band, boys and girls – this is a happening thang. Guitarist Michael Falzarano did duty on both sides of the glass for 17 Pine Avenue, handling production chores as well as acting as the liaison between the rhythm of the engine room (drummer Johnny Markowski and bassist Ronnie Penque) and the pickers in the wheelhouse (guitarist David Nelson and Buddy Cage on pedal steel). Keep an ear out for Falzarano’s off-mic heys and yelps, ushering in Nelson’s B-bender Tele or Cage’s steel … they’re little, tiny windows into the kind of excitement this bunch still feels when they’re in the heat of a jam. The album’s mix is just right: fairly dry and immediate, with a few wisps of psychedelic weirdness here and there – but nary a studio trick in sight. (None needed: this is simply a matter of a band of vets playing their asses off and sounding like they’re having a good time doing it.)  Johnny Markowski contributes a pair of tunes to 17 Pine Avenue : Down For The Ride contains just the right balance of weariness, sweetness, coolness, and hope, combined with a draw-off-and-let-it-fly singalong chorus and a pedal steel break by the legendary Cage that’ll break your goddamn heart. “I Know There’s Someone Else” finds Markowski channeling the late, great Marmaduke Dawson with the sort of headneck romp that made the Riders famous in the first place. (Catch the cool Hammond work by guest Professor Louie and the spark-throwing interplay between Cage and Nelson in the song’s final minute.) Ronnie Penque (he of the serpentine, syrupy bass lines that both anchor the weirdness and encourage it) takes the lead on “Shake That Thing”, a funky, nasty shimmyshake with psychedelic undertones. Falzarano’s “Just The Way It Goes” is chock full of I-wish-you-well-but-I’ve-had-enough-of-this-shit bittersweetness and at least two arms’ worth of tattoo material (example: “I’ve got my ducks in a row/Now I’m gonna shoot ‘em down”). His reworking of the old traditional “Truth Is Dead” takes things home with a message that’s as much a challenge as it is a warning. “Hey, darlin’ … wanna dance?” asks Falzarano just before the fade, the consummate cosmic cowboy Nero. And then you have the tunes penned by David Nelson and the legendary Robert Hunter – a combination of talents that has as much to do with friendship as it does art. Remember, folks – Nelson was part of that Bay Area picking circle with Hunter and a young lad by the name of Garcia all those many moons ago. Roots run deep; and the proof’s in the music, my friend.

As with so, so many of his collaborations with Jerry Garcia, Hunter’s lyrics for the New Riders often conjure up familiar feelings of “Don’t I know this? Haven’t I been here before? But how could I have?” Consider “Fivio” (infused with tasty bits of Cage’s pedal steel), which sounds like it might have been penned in the shade of an apple tree 130 years ago. The lovely “Suite At The Mission” is chock-bursting full of big pictures and even bigger characters. Or how about the title song, a total “Cosmic Charlie”-style Crumbwalk that’s loaded with wicked wordplay and rubber-legged-and-droopy-eyed grins. “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too,” indeed. Who’d have thought one would ever use the word “sexy” in a New Riders review? Well, you tell me: crank up the album opener “Prisoner Of Freedom” and let that infectious head-bopping groove (courtesy of Markowski and Penque) settle into your bones. When they let Cage loose after the first chorus, the fuzz-out snarl of his pedal steel is just absolutely nasty – I’m talking make-you-blush filthy here, folks. Jesus … Professor Louie’s accordion is the perfect addition to the happy gumbo of “Message In A Bottle”. And if you want to hear someone play the living dogsnot out of a B-bender Telecaster, check out Nelson’s solo at the 2:55 mark of “Six Of One”. (All you kids out there pay attention and learn yerselves something.)Getting older? Who says?

I’ll have whatever they’re having, barkeep. Put it in a bag for me and I’ll take it to 17 Pine Avenue

 

 

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange 6/23/09

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Bob Gottlieb

 

Michael Falzarano, for the past 4 or so years guitar player and singer for The New Riders Of The Purple Sage and before that an extended stay with Hot Tuna, as well as his own band has put together a disc in his own name with some great players. This is Falzarano’s third solo disc and he has Vassar Clements on this disc in some of the last sessions he did before he passed on, Buddy Cage, Jorma Kaukonen, Garth Hudson and Professor Louie among others helping to flesh out his aural vision on this disc.  On this 14-song disc Michael wrote 10 of the songs, co-wrote with Kerry Kearny two of them and the two remaining tracks are, one by the Reverend Gary Davis, and one by Leroy Carr.  His songs are well written and he arranges them on the disc so that the listener doesn’t fall into a rut nor get jarred by the bump moving to the next song.   The music goes from blues to Rock to Country to… however as stated the transitions are smooth and easy without being dull.  To get an idea listen to the treatment he gives to Reverend Gary Davis’ “Candy Man” with Vassar Clements fiddle, just a superb version of the song.   Give a listen to the beautiful and touching tribute to Allen Woody, bass player for the Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule, “Last Train Out”.  The haunting and beautiful play of Buddy Cage and Jimmy Eppard on the instrumental “Gonna Power Down Now” ends the disc on a powerful note.   The keyboards play a prominent, without being overpowering, role in his music and quick look at who is playing them is quite revealing; Melvin Seals on Hammond Organ, Professor Louie on piano, Garth Hudson on keyboards, Pete Sears on piano, and Jon Marshall Smith on Farfisa Organ.  This is one of those discs that just seem to pick you up and put a smile on your feet as they glide around the floor keeping time with the bounce in the music.

 

Jambands.com 11/11/2008

We Are All One - Michael Falzarano / Woodstock Records
By
Brian Robbins

Michael Falzarano has been holding down the fort for a long time. Over the years he’s been the “Bobby” rhythm guitar figure to the “Jerry” lead played by Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna) and David Nelson (New Riders) -– at least as far as the always-there-with-the-rhythm-no-matter-how-crazy-the-jam-gets role. (Forget the showboat rock star Weir stuff, though … that just ain’t Michael’s style.) Although folks may know his name, they may never have taken in Falzarano’s knack for pulling an ensemble together, which he does not with a heavy hand, but rather with a solid groove and a smile.

Past projects (the Memphis Pilgrims and the solo 2005 King James Sessions) have proven Michael’s talent as a bandleader, but his latest release, We Are All One, is the best yet. And although the album features a revolving cast of characters recorded over a long period, it sounds like the result of a bunch of old friends sitting down one evening and going for it with the tape rolling.

The album-opening “Why I Love You I Can’t Explain” explodes with all the joy of a late-'80s vintage Jerry Garcia Band show, and there’s good reason for that: give him room, folks, that’s Melvin Seals hisself on the B-3. Big Melvin makes several appearances on We Are All One, including the title track. In typical Falzarano fashion, there’s no heavy message here, but just an attempt to get the people of the world to realize, as the man says, “We are all one – mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son.” The song gets revisited acoustically later on, featuring some beautiful mandolin by Jimmy Fleming.

There was only one Vassar Clements and, luckily, Michael spent some session time with the fiddle master before his passing in 2005. Clements weaves and bobs with Kerry Kearney’s wild-ass guitar on “It’s My Own Fault” and the old Rev. Gary Davis classic “Candy Man”. And Falzarano’s “When There’s Two There’s Trouble” sounds like it was written solely for the purpose of letting the “Father of Hillbilly Jazz” wail.

New Riders pal and pedal steel monster Buddy Cage makes several appearances, including the haunting “New Shirt” when the steel takes the lead over a chugging rhythm guitar/bass/drum foundation. “Last Train Out” is to Michael as “Soulshine” is to Warren Haynes-–though we’ve heard it before, it never gets old. This arrangement of Falzarano’s tribute to late Gov't Mule bassist Allen Woody features Professor Louie and The Crowmatrix with the always-amazing Garth Hudson on keyboards.

And – icing on the cake – we get to share an early-AM-in-the-studio moment with Buddy Cage laying down some other-worldly pedal steel over a first time/first take Michael instrumental, “Gonna Power Down Now.” (Those were the words of the engineer just as Michael began an instrumental idea that was in his head. The rest of the band joined in – and, luckily, the engineer hit “record.”) Even though there’s no one core group of musicians throughout the album, We Are All One is held together by the good Falzarano karma. This is definitely his album, no matter who sits in where -– and, in the end, the man proves his point: given the chance, we are all one.

Jambands.com 11/11/2008

We Are All One - Michael Falzarano / Woodstock Records
By Mick Skidmore

Michael Falzarano is one of those musicians who seldom gets the credit they deserve, yet his roles in Hot Tuna, The Jorma Kaukonen Trio and currently in the New Riders are important. He’s a perfect sideman or back-up to the band leader. Although he has an unassuming and laidback persona, he is a versatile musician with all round talent as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer. Falzarano also fronts the gritty Memphis style rock and roll band The Memphis Pilgrims, but more recently in between his New Riders roles he has released a couple of solo albums which show he also as comfortable stepping out of the shadows and being the front man.

The most recent album is We Are One (Woodstock Records) and it a delightful encapsulation of everything that Falzarano does and simply the best overall project he has released under his own name. Falzarano is helped out on the album by an impressive array of guests including, Jorma Kaukonen, the late Vassar Clements, Melvin Seals, Pete Sears, Kerry Kearney, Professor Louie, Buddy Cage, Garth Hudson, and a slew of other notable players, including the Memphis Pilgrims. The most impressive thing about the disc, which flips from strident bluesy R&B through country blues, country rock and more, with ease and conviction, is that it is a cohesive effort. Clearly Falzarano is the front man, and enjoying it. The production is simple and the playing never over complicated, but it’s a vibrant album, as indicated by the horn driven “It’s Just My Way” (which has Jorma wailing away). Other highlights are the strident opener, “Why I Love You I Can’t Explain,” the gutsier blues rock of “It’s My Own Fault.” The soulful title cut is presented in two versions, an electric and an acoustic version. Both are good, but I prefer the acoustic one. He also reworks classic country blues tracks “How Long Blues” and “Candyman” with really interesting arrangements. The album ends with the appropriately titled instrumental “Gonna Power Down Now,” which boast some great pedal steel from Cage.

Given the release of the new album we took the time to chat with Falzarano and get his take on the album and his current activities. Needless to say the affable and likeable Falzarano was typically unpretentious and informative. He is one of the breed of musicians that truly enjoys and appreciates what he does.  To read the interview click the link http://www.jambands.com/Features/content_2008_12_23.04.phtml

The Grateful Web 10/8/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Sanjay Suchak

Michael Falzarano is like a hidden hand, we’ve all heard his music, but many would be surprised by his musical resume.  So it might be helpful to start with Michael’s past in order to explain how his new album came to be.  For over 35 years Falzarano has been a member of some of the more influential groups in jam-band history.  He founded his own band, The Memphis Pilgrims, but also has been a member of Hot Tuna, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and has played with everyone from members of the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers to Dr. John, Trey Anastasio, and Bruce Hornsby.  The influences of these musicians are clear in his new album We Are All One.

Considering his impressive resume, it’s no surprise to learn that he’s assembled a cast of legends to contribute to the recording process.   Don’t get me wrong, it’s Falzarano’s songwriting and performance that makes this album a gem, but the cast of musical visionaries simply adds that extra layer of shine.  Some contributors include the late Vassar Clements, Melvin Seals (JGB), Buddy Cage (NRPS), Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane), Garth Hudson (The Band), Professor Louie, Pete Sears, and over a dozen more top notch musicians.

The album is potluck of various genres and musical styles.  While this can be a risky proposition for many musicians, Falzarano handles this with precision and grace crafting the entire album as a gradual transition from style to style.  It’s a method which I think serves his style of songwriting very well.

With that said picking highlights of this album is quite a challenge since the entire album does not have one song which caused me to reach for the fast forward button.  However there are a few songs which I find myself liking more each time I listen to them.   “Sweet Marie” with its catchy yet simplistic lyrics, contagious organ and guitar riffs helps add to the strong start of the album.  “Candy Man” a more basic stripped down song has the majority of the song being carried mostly by Falzarano’s vocals and Vassar Clements’ fiddle creating a duet between man and instrument.  “It’s Just My Way” is a great tune which standalone would have been fantastic, but adding Jorma’s lead guitar and Dave Castiglione’s saxophone give it that extra polish and make it extraordinary.   Other highlights include “When There’s Two There’s Trouble” and “Crazy Days.”

To be honest though, my favorite song on the album has to be “To Let the Fire Die.”  This is the one song on the album that reached out and made me completely stop what I was doing and just listen.  This song is a bit slower and more reflective than all songs up this point and it speaks to something all of us have experienced at one point or another in our lives, making a strong connection with the listener.  Not only does it make that connection but it was well crafted with just the right amount of solos and instrumentation but with engaging lyrics and vocal intonation.   With such a distinctly different type of song than the rest of the album, perhaps Falzarano stepped out of his comfort zone with this one, but whatever he did, he’s doing it right. 

The album rounds out with a thoughtful acoustic number which is also the album’s title track “We Are All One,” which as the title suggests implores us to realize that we aren’t that different than each other and to get along with each other for once.

The thirteenth track is a tribute to Allen Woody, the late bassist for Gov’t Mule, and was previously recorded in 2005 for his solo project The King James Sessions.   The album ends with the only instrument song on the album “Gonna Power Down Now” which just as the title suggests lets the listener unwind and think about all that’s been said on the album.

Picking out highlights of this album was a very hard thing to do, not because there were none, but because the whole album was consistently a very listenable one.  We’ve all heard albums where there are only a few decent songs and the rest is filler, this is clearly not the case here.  The album is a grower; it’s the type of album that each time you listen to it you hear something new that you’ll love.  Unfortunately the album’s greatest strength is also its biggest weakness.  With being such an even album with only (in my opinion) one song that jumps above the rest, the casual listener might dismiss it as generic and at times it can.  Lyrically Falzarano falls a bit short on a few songs, however this is not an album carried solely on its lyrical prowess and therefore it is not really a huge shortfall.

I’m going to give Michael Falzarano’s album We Are All One four stars out of five, for being an extremely well produced, well written, and exceptionally performed album.  The shortcomings that I saw were minimal and I certainly look forward to hearing more from Michael.  The album is released on Woodstock Records and can be purchased directly from them or through your favorite online retailer or local music store.

Media Matters 10/20/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Eric Alterman

 

It's interesting, but for me, the real find in this genre is this record by Michael Falzarano, apparently his third one. It's called "We Are All One," and it's on Woodstock records. Twelve of the 14 tracks are his, and there are some of the last known studio recordings of the late fiddle virtuoso Vassar Clements. Falzarano was in Hot Tuna on and off for 20 years, and recently has been touring with the reconstituted New Riders of the Purple Sage. If you like those two bands, this is going to be hard to resist.

 

 

Aquarian Weekly 11/19/2008

 By Martin Halo

Also appeared in

The DMW News -The Waster.com 11/02/2008 By Martin Halo

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

With his twenty plus year stint in Hot Tuna and now touring with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Michael Falzarano is hardly a stranger to the American music industry.  A member of Jefferson Airplane & Grateful Dead spin-offs, his melodic vocals drive honest songwriting grace.  Now with the release of his third solo effort, We Are All One, on Woodstock Records, Falzarano have found a groove buried in the jam side of outlaw country. 

“Why I Love You I Can’t Explain” kicks things off in a good times barroom atmosphere with Falzarano’s vocals a mix of Elvis Costello and Bill Payne.  A little funk pushes “Sweet Marie”, while bluegrass tells the story of the “Candy Man.”   ‘I wish I was in New Orleans sitting on a Candy stand,’ Falzarano sings.  Clean guitar runs are the highlight of this number.  A sensual saxophone leads “It’s Just My Way,” which is a number about doing things to the beat of one’s own drum. 

In support, Falzarano brought in the friendship expertise of Buddy Cage, Melvin Seals, Vassar Clements, Garth Hudson, and Jimmy Eppard and others.

Another strong track is that of “When There’s Two There’s Trouble,” with Falzarano’s melody lines a pleasure to the listening ear.  It has the hospitality of a little country and a little rock n’ roll. 

“New Shirt,” sports spacey twang, while the acoustic title track is a truckin’ number of virtue in major.  “Last Train Out” caps the record in memory to Gov’t Mule bassist Allen Woody. 

I feel as though the record doesn’t do the chugging rhythms of a live setting justice.  We Are All One is packed with the kind of numbers that will lend to memorable live performances.  They are loose, they are packed with musical expression, and lend to a hip shake or two. 

The Purply Grotto 11/06/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Purply Bob

 

Here's a MP3 file of an interview I did with The Purply Grotto. If you don't know about the P.G. website you should check it out

Just click the link below

http://www.purplygrotto.com/html/modules.php?name= News&file=article&sid=189&mode=&order=0&thold=0

 

 

The Westword Music News 11/07/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Nick Hitchinson

 

Michael Falzarano, We Are All One (Woodstock Records). Michael Falzarano blends well with others, as evidenced by this release, which finds him collaborating with Melvin Seals, Jorma Kaukonen, the late Vassar Clements and Garth Hudson. Songs like "Why I Love You I Can't Explain" highlight Falzarano's top-shelf songwriting, gritty guitar and Elvis Costello-like croon, while deeper cuts pile up more gravelly soul.

 

Billboard.com 11/09/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide /

Rhythm guitarist Michael Falzarano is a member in good standing of the musical communities of Marin County, CA, and Woodstock, NY, which has brought him steady work with some of the better known musicians of those areas, including stints in latter day configurations of Hot Tuna and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. For his solo albums, of which this is the third, he has no trouble getting his friends to sit in. Here, those friends include the late master fiddler Vassar Clements, in some of his final recordings ("It's My Own Fault," "Candy Man," "When There's Two There's Trouble"), Hot Tuna's (and Jefferson Airplane's) Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar on "It's Just My Way"), Jefferson Starship's Pete Sears (piano on "It's Just My Way"), the New Riders' pedal steel player Buddy Cage ("New Shirt," "When There's Two There's Trouble," "To Let the Fire Die," "Gonna Power Down Now"), and the Band's Garth Hudson (keyboards on "Last Train Out"). The guests provide some of the instrumental highlights of the disc, but they are only icing on the cake. For the most part, Falzarano leads ensembles anchored by Harvey Sorgen or Ray Grappone on drums, Steve Rust or Pete Bennett on bass, Melvin Seals or Jon Marshall Smith on organ, and Jimmy Eppard or Kerry Kearney on lead guitar. His leadership consists of his sturdy songwriting and singing in a countryish, bluesy vein that will be familiar to fans of the Band and the groups of which he's been a member. His adequate voice is in the conventional rusty, adenoidal style, his tunes are blues and rock staples, and his lyrics touch on the misunderstandings of love and the need for universal brotherhood. The listener does not discover that Falzarano is an undiscovered major talent as a bandleader, but there seems little doubt that, if he were to venture out on a club tour with some of the sidemen who accompany him here, evenings of enjoyable music would result.

Culture Catch 11/26/08

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Dusty Wright

 

    Roots-rock has many disciples that can barely deliver the goods. Not so with this gritty singer-songwriter/founder of The Memphis Pilgrims and rhythm guitarist in Hot Tuna, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, et al. He's joined by friends like Vassar Clements (R.I.P., his last recordings), Melvin Seals, Buddy Cage, Jorma Kaukonen, Gath Hudson, and others on a raucous set of simple, four-on-the-floor, toe-tapping tunes.

 

Long Island Blues Society.org 12/01/08

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Dr. Blues


We Are All One
unites many disparate currents to form a disk of homey Americana laced roots.  Falzarano, with his time playing in Hot Tuna, knows the ropes when it comes to creating swingingly upbeat grooves and, likewise, a thing or two about assembling his cast of characters.  Jorma tears it into guitar shreds on “It’s Just My Way.” Melvin Seals paints with soulful Hammond on 4 cuts and all kinds of San Fran pals join in the fun from Pete Sears (Starship), Harvey Sorgen (Tuna, NRBQ….)to Buddy Cage (NRPS), Garth Hudson (The Band) and sadly no longer, Vassar Clements, who fiddled like a chainsaw on overdrive. The disk opens with throttles wide on “Why I Love You I Can’t Explain.” Melvin Seals wails on the B-3.  “It’s My Own Fault” revels in the rich beauty of Kerry Kearney’s guitar and Vassar Clements fiddle (probably one of his last recordings prior to his 2005 death) in a soulful call and response format.  “We Are All One” reminds me of the Youngbloods hit “Come On”, on which Kane Daily slides heavenly hard.  A later acoustic version features the Kerry band. “New Shirt” is eerie with a psychedelic Western view thanks in no small part to Buddy Cage’s pedal steel mayhem.  A spritely country boogie fills “When There’s Two There’s Trouble” that joins Kerry, Prof. Louie, Cage and Clements in a cheerful blaster.  Garth Hudson lends his fingers to a sweet memoriam dedicated to Allen Woody known as “Last Train Out.” Closing with the instrumental “Gonna Power Down Now”, Michael Falzarano and Extended Family have gone and shown how the offspring of the Tuna/NRPS/The Band/SF 60s can keep the spirit alive and continue to make valid, interesting music that moves you and fills you with a warm glow. 

 

Kindweb.com 12/1/2008

Michael Falzarano - We Are All One (CD Review)

By Jud Conway

 

Consummate rhythm guitarist Michael Falzarano has forged a 30-year music career supporting the likes of Jorma Kaukonen in Hot Tuna, and David Nelson and Buddy Cage in New Riders of the Purple Sage. Somewhere between his busy schedule teaching guitar workshops and producing, recording, and performing with a veritable "who’s who" of jam band royalty, Falzarano has managed to release We Are All One, his third proper solo album, on Woodstock Records.

At the heart of We Are All One is the notion of the "Extended Family." While the new disc mines much of the same familiar terrain explored on the vastly-underrated Last Train Out (2000, Hypnotation Records) and the well-received King James Sessions (2005, Blues Planet Records), it also features a previously unparalleled level of collaborative effort. Having worked as a rhythm guitarist with or for many of the guest artists appearing on We Are All One, Falzarano promotes the solo project as a quasi-group effort, informally crediting the album to "Michael Falzarano and Extended Family.’

Organist Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band) and guitarist-for-hire Kane Daily fraternize with Falzarano on an inspired electric reading of the title track. Conversely, mandolin player Jimmy Fleming (The Storm) and guitarist Kerry Kearney (Kerry Kearney Band) turn in an unforgettable acoustic rendition of the same track, reinforcing the notion that "we are all one."

Falzarano is joined by accordionist Professor Louie (The Chromatics) and inimitable keyboardist Garth Hudson (The Band) for a moving rendition of "Last Train Out," his tribute to late Allman Brothers Band/Gov’t Mule bassist Allen Woody.

Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen adds his unmistakable lead guitar to "It’s Just My Way," while New Rider Buddy Cage adds his signature pedal steel to several tracks, including the ethereal "New Shirt," the instrumental "Gonna Power Down Now," and the country-rockin’ "When There’s Two There’s Trouble."

The majority of material on We Are All One was written or co-written by Michael Falzarano. The only exceptions are inspired covers of Leroy Carr’s "How Long Blues" and Reverend Gary Davis’ "Candy Man." The latter is one of several album tracks that feature some of the last recordings of late fiddler extraordinaire Vassar Clements.

In essence, because the basic tracks for We Are All One were recorded during multiple sessions and with numerous musicians over a period of several years, Falzarano was able to turn the tables on high-profile players and solicit their uninhibited support in helping him to realize his musical vision. Consequently, Michael Falzarano delivers one of the most compelling and organic albums in his extensive discography

Honesttune.com 12/02/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Bill Whiting

 

Michael Falzarano crosses yet another stylistic threshold on the We Are All One. An essential partner and player with Jorma Kaukonen and Hot Tuna, his jazz and blues drenched solo project focuses on his love of rock, gospel and R&B.

Gathering the jam community's best instrumentalists, Falzarano strikes up the rhythm and dances down the proverbial golden road with Vassar Clements, Melvin Seals, Jorma, Garth Hudson and Pete Sears. Falzarano's choice of material is as top notch as his supporting cast and a rollicking "Candy Man" is matched by the stomping opener, "Why I Love You I Can't Explain." "Sweet Marie" and the title track bring the organic Hammond lines of Seals to forefront of the sound mix.

Falzarano's string bending guitar runs and gravelly vocal delivery are essential components to each song's overall presentation, and the end result is one heck of a party soundtrack for the show parking lot or tail gate barbecue session. Produced by Falzarano, We Are All One displays the sharp instincts and chops he has brought to all of his work and points to a fruitful solo career in the making. 

 

Poughkeepsie Journal 12/23/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By John W. Barry

 

Michael Falzarano is a road warrior, a pioneer - he is a musician who has traveled the world, logged miles and miles on America's highways and put his sweet stamp on the national songbook. Falzarano is a guitarist and songwriter who many in the Hudson Valley know from his days as Jorma Kaukonen's guitarist in Hot Tuna, which has performed many memorable shows at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, Bearsville Theater in Woodstock and the old Uncle Willy's nightclub in Kingston. Falzarano, who was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island and now lives in Manhattan, is set to return to the Bearsville Theater Saturday as a member of New Riders of the Purple Sage. NRPS, as they are known, bill themselves as "America's premiere psychedelic cowboy band." NRPS roots can be traced to the 1960s, current member David Nelson and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Falzarano has also recently released a new CD, "We Are All One," a collection of mostly original tunes. This album highlights Falzarano's love of rock, blues, cascading guitar lines, dance-floor rhythm and lyrics that tell stories. Falzarano's lead vocals evoke Graham Parker and Elvis Costello. The collective sound that shapes this CD celebrates early, raw Rolling Stones as well as the contemporary jam band scene, in each of the record's 14 tracks. "All of my stuff is blues-influenced," Falzarano said during a recent telephone interview with the Journal. "I reside in the jam band world and any one of these songs, when I've played them live, have been expanded upon and jammed out. I would go as far as to say it's a blues record, but not in the traditional sense - that's my roots, that's where I'm coming from. To me, its just rock 'n' roll. It's a good, fun listen. "Falzarano traces his love of music to his teenage days, and one February night in 1964 in particular. On that evening, Falzarano and millions of Americans tuned in to watch "The Ed Sullivan Show. "Falzarano said he never planned to become a full-time musician, a career choice that has led to significant success. "What drew me to it was seeing The Beatles on 'Ed Sullivan' and going, 'Hey, that looks like fun' and one thing led to another," he said. "I was already playing guitar. That was a catalyst. I got a bunch of kid bands together, played around. The first time I got paid I thought, 'This is interesting.' "

Falzarano's passion for music appears generational, with father and son sharing a love for the guitar and Falzarano's grandfather having played vaudeville. Falzarano has achieved success as a musician - Kaukonen of Hot Tuna was guitarist for Jefferson Airplane; Buddy Cage, with whom Falzarano plays in NRPS, played on Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" album; and Nelson was band mates, in the ensemble's early days, with Garcia. But Falzarano, for all he has achieved, remains grateful and remembers the lean years he spent working at his goal. "If you're going to be in the music business and play music for a living, there are going to be good times and there are going to be bad times," he said. "You have to learn to adapt to it, and persevere through. I stayed with it and it worked out for me. It's very easy to say, 'I'm going to pack it in.' For some, that's not an option. For me, that's not an option. I've been very fortunate, very lucky to do what I've done."

 

Poughkeepsie Journal 12/31/2008

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By John W. Barry

New Year's Eve is upon us, so it's time for another of those end-of-the-year lists. Read on to see who I think rocked out in 2008 - these are my top 10 albums for the past year. This is one of my favorite duties here at the Journal. And as the lucky guy whose job it is to cover music, this task is never easy.

1. "Lay It Down" by Al Green. Cool, smooth, funky and, quite simply, on fire.

2. "Chances" by Kelleigh McKenzie. Singing, songwriting, bluegrass, rhythm, melody, soul, "Eleanor Rigby" and velvet vocals all share center stage on a great CD from a rockin' resident of Rosendale.

3. "Little Wild One" by Joan Osborne. Sweet stuff from a singer-songwriter who is never afraid to reveal her softer side, or get in your face with her tougher side.

4. "Into The Stars" by Priscilla Herdman. This Pine Plains resident respects the strong traditions of folk music, but isn't shy about sprinkling the sounds with her own flavorings and pushing herself, and the music, giving this CD a strong personality of its own.

5. "We Are All One" by Michael Falzarano. A stew of soul and song, rich with rock and rhythm, from a musician who has long celebrated the musical legacy of the Hudson Valley, and blazed his own path.

6. "Let the World Sing" by Jimmy Sturr. "Mr. Consistency" from Orange County always puts a smile on my face. This record is a joy.

7. "Hey Ma" by James. Not too hard, not too soft. As Goldilocks would say, "it's just right."

8. "I Love the Moon" by Helen Avakian. "Greetings From Asbury Park" and "Bird Flying" are two songs that anchor a fine collection of tunes from this singer-songwriter from Pleasant Valley.

9. "Nine Lives" by Steve Winwood. Voice, instrument, melody, rhythm and lyrics are fused together by a timeless troubadour who has never rested on his laurels.

10. "Death Magnetic" by Metallica. Passion for a good tune and a lot of soul don't get obscured by heavy metal cliches

Allaboutjazz.com 1/08/2009

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=31508

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Doug Collette

Redoubtable sideman to Bay Area notables including Hot Tuna and The New Riders of the Purple Sage, guitarist Michael Falzarano offers inspiration throughout his third CD that consolidates the talents that have proven so reliable over the years.

It's a little surprise Falzarano's aided and abetted here by a star-studded cast of musicians, 'The Extended Family' to Falzarano. Yet it's not just names that distinguish such standard fare as the easy-going shuffle of opener "Why I Love You I Can't explain." The wry good nature of the guitarist/vocalist is equally radiant on the slightly syncopated "Sweet Marie," where Melvin Seals decorates the arrangement with a prominent Hammond B-3.

In one of his final studio performances, Vassar Clements uses his fiddle to similarly embellish "It's My Own Fault" but not until Kerry Kearney, one of Falzarano's closest compatriots, effectively introduces him with a high voltage electric guitar segment. Truly, We Are All One isn't just about the guest stars: Falzarano sets the tone on a staple of the Hot Tuna repertoire, "Candy Man" elevates the authenticity and infectious high spirits through the contributions of Clements and Kearney.

The front man's amiable presence appears in tangible musicianly forms throughout the CD. Falzarano's singing turns most distinctive on the title song, which speaks to the bond of music lovers rather than any cosmic pretension. The acoustic arrangement of that tune might've been better sequenced to contrast the hard-rocking appearance of Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Tuna) on "It's Just My Way," but the ominous atmosphere there remains within "New Shirt," thanks to the cryptic lyrics, which Falzarano again delivers with nuance while Buddy Cage, of New Riders of The Purple Sage distinction, decorates the tune with sounds nothing like the pedal steel he plays.

The breezy air of "To Let the Fire Die" is more effectively placed near the homestretch here, with Charlie Wolfe on harmonica and Jimmy Fleming on mandolin lightening the mood. Further bolstering the bedrock virtues of this close-knit rosters of players, the instrumental "Gonna Power Down Now" ends this fourteen cut disc, but not before "Last Train Out (In Memory of Allen Woody)," finds Garth Hudson tailoring his keyboard parts to quietly accentuate the melancholy air of the eulogy to the late Allman Brothers/Gov't Mule bassist.

The venerable keyboardist of The Band fits right in with the rest of the players here illustrating that Michael Falzarano's greatest talent may be his ability to galvanize all the participants involved here. He is crucial in erecting the united front of a genuine band, giving another meaning altogether to the title We Are All One.

 

Glide Magazine / Hidden track  1/18/2009

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Scott Bernstein

 

When current New Riders of the Purple Sage and former Hot Tuna guitarist Michael Falzarano put together his latest solo album, We Are All One, he enlisted the help of many of the great musicians that have become part of his extended family including the late Vassar Clements, Buddy Cage of the New Riders, JGB’s Melvin Seals and Kerry Kearney. The resulting album takes you on a cohesive journey through many genres with Michael guiding us through all the wonderful styles of music that he’s played over the years. We Are All One immediately caught my ear with the rollocking Why I Love You I Can’t Explain and didn’t let go through Gonna Power Down Now - the gorgeous lo-fi instrumental that closes the record. Other highlights include a song written as a tribute to Allen Woody (Last Train Out), two covers (Candy Man and How Long Blues) and some of the last known studio recordings of Vassar Clements (When There’s Two There’s Trouble).....

http://www.glidemagazine.com/hiddentrack/interview-michael-falzarano

 

Dirty Linen # 140 ~ MARCH/APRIL 2009

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Michael Parish

 

Michael Falzarano We Are All One [Woodstock CD 0026 (2008)] Guitarist/vocalist Michael Falzarano has been a mainstay of the jam-band music world since he joined Hot Tuna in the 1980s.  Falzarano’s latest solo album, We Are All One, features a who’s who of musicians from that world, including Jorma Kaukonen, Buddy Cage (with whom Falzarano currently tours in the New Riders of the Purple Sage), Garth Hudson, the late Vassar Clements, and JGB organist Melvin Seals.  The disc’s funky blues-rock vibe complements Falzarano’s amiably gruff vocals, producing a blend closer to Little Feat than Tuna or NRPS.  With the exception of a couple blues standards, Falzarano wrote or co-wrote most of the material, including strong efforts like the anthemic title song (presented in both acoustic and electric versions) and the playful blues “It’s My Own Fault.”  Falzarano has played supporting roles during much of his musical career, but We Are All One is a confident, enjoyable effort that demonstrates that he can easily hold his own in the spotlight. 

 

Elmore Magazine January / February 2009

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By Robin Murray

Guitarist/songwriter Michael Falzarano’s name might not jump off the page, but for the past 35 years he has been in some of the hottest bands in history.  Aside from leading his own band, the Memphis Pilgrims, he’s played with both Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage and members of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, Dr. John and Bruce Hornsby, just to name a few.  His third solo release, We Are All One, includes 12 self-penned tunes and features musicians he likes to call “the Extended Family,” including Melvin Seals, Buddy Cage, Jorma Kaukonen, Garth Hudson, Professor Louie, Kerry Kearney, Kane Daily, Jimmy Fleming, and many more.  Michael also obtained some of the last recordings of the late fiddle player Vassar Clements and incorporated them into this CD.   We Are All One starts out with a powerhouse song about bad love, “Why I Love You I Can’t Explain.”  A mellow, bluesy love song, “How Long Blues,” will have you holding your partner ever so close.  When I first listened to this album, I didn’t flip from song to song - the whole thing is dynamite.  There are no filler songs included here.  This CD is a must for your collection. 

Music Box  3/092009

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By John Metzger

 

Michael Falzarano has such an affable, laid-back personality that in the span of a 30-minute conversation, it immediately is apparent how he so effortlessly is able to fit into the framework of any band. For two decades, Falzarano served as the secret ingredient in Hot Tuna’s blues-baked sandwich, and lately, he has been biding his time by exploring the country-rock repertoire of New Riders of the Purple Sage. Although both acts draw from a similar slate of influences, the end results are quite different. Falzarano’s goal, however, is, as he put it, to "stay true to the legacy, the history, and the sound" of those with whom he is working. Not surprisingly, all of Falzarano’s diversions have left him with very little time to pursue a solo career, though based on the strength of his terrific, new album We Are All One, he might have to find a way to fit it into his hectic schedule.....

To read the full review click below

http://www.musicbox-online.com/interview/03092009/michael-falzarano.html

 

 

Kweevak.com  5/02/2009

Michael Falzarano – We Are All One / Woodstock Records

By  Richard J. Lynch

 

New Riders of the Purple Sage singer and guitarist Michael Falzarano returns with We Are All One - complete with symbols from the world's largest religions on the cover - and while the title might be a plea for spiritual tolerance - the music contained within might help Michael expand his own block of followers! Helped out by many of his long-time friends like Buddy Cage, Jorma Kaukonen, Garth Hudson and many more - its musical revelation will put you on the path to enlightenment - or at least it should help brighten your day. This 14-track effort is Michael's take on the study of New Orleans inspired blues, jazz, rock and Americana roots. It's My Own Fault flies with inspirational fiddle riffs from Vassar Clements. The title track is a call for oneness with jubilant B3 from Melvin Seals and slide guitar from Kane Daily. New Shirt - featuring cleansing pedal steel from Buddy Cage - is a fresh take on dirty business. On his new CD Michael's unifying musical message is so fulfilling that it leaves us asking - "Where's We Are All One, Two???

 

Robert Hunter 4/8/06
Just got back from the New Riders show at the Mystic in Petaluma. It sure took me back. Packed out house singing along lustily on songs they didn't know they loved so much and suddenly discovered they did. Friends crawled out of the woodwork for this one. Betty Cantor was there and Annette Flowers; Michelle, who is to the Riders what Sue Swanson is to the Dead, first fan and lifetime helper. Dan and Patty Healy both looking great. Ramblin' Jack Elliot spry, spare, ancient and smiling. Other faces half remembered but accounted for. An aura of Joy quickly established itself, similar to the first night of the Dead at Alpine on an intimate scale (a weird parallel I know, but there you go) - the resurrection feel, not repeatable on demand. The spirit bloweth where it listeth. Everyone realized pdq it was one of those nighMichael Falzaranots destined to be remembered, what the music is all about, all it was ever about: love, magic and kick ass songs.

I spent the night on my feet way up front, soaking it all in. Finally went to the back of the house, dead on said feet, with Maureen and Kate to await the encore, which was, fittingly, the late Buck Owen's "Truck Drivin Man" a song no Riders show ever omitted to play. The band's manager spotted me seated in the rear of the Mystic, said the band wanted me to do the last number with them. I said I'd worn my voice out singing along with the crowd, which was true, not to mention not having been on stage since opening for the Dead & the ABB at the Gorge a century or two ago - but there was some part of "no" he didn't understand, as a good manager shouldn't, so without bothering to have my arm politely ripped out of the socket I went up and did it.

Long time since I've been on stage but I can always pull a Ripple out of the hat. How sweet it was to finally sing with the New Riders of the Purple Sage after nearly forty years. A deep emotional experience on the heels of one of the best NRPS shows I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them. Old Nelson had tears in his eyes, Buddy sitting there like a great glowing Buddha of the pedal steel. Old home night in the 21st Century. The ghosts of Spencer Dryden, Dave Torbert, Skip Batten and Dale Franklin singing along on the chorus, JG present in the melody itself.

The missing Marmaduke seemed supernaturally imminent in the voices of Michael Falzarano of Hot Tuna, whose rhythm guitar is simple and absolutely superb, and of Ronnie Penque and Johnny Markowski who acquitted themselves with honors. Each of the three is capable of believably copping the Dawson style without which it wouldn't be the Riders. So much so that it seemed like a chorus of Marmadukes on the harmony parts! I won't even get into what a storm Nelson picked on his Telecaster, and of course, Buddy is Buddy. Nuff said. If this sounds like a rave review, so be it. Go get 'em Riders!

 

Hitting the Note April/08

Few bands had as much impact on the country-rock movement of the early '70s as the New Riders of the Purple Sage, America's premier psychedelic cowboy band. Originally created as a Grateful Dead side project so that Jerry Garcia could get his pedal steel fix, the band took on a life of its own after Garcia left. They gave the world such great tunes as "Panama Red" and "Henry," and lead singer David Nelson and pedal steel wizard Buddy Cage became cornerstones of the Americana and jam scenes.

Fast forward to 2006, and NRPS decides to get back together after years of inactivity. Founding member John "Marmaduke" Dawson is unable to tour because of health issues, but Cage and Nelson are still going strong. Former Hot Tuna guitarist Michael Falzarano and the rock-solid rhythm section of Ronnie Penque on bass and Johnny Markowski on drums (both formerly of Stir Fried) round out the band.

The group and their fans quickly realized that the old magic was still there, and when they played an intimate gig at Turkey Trot Lodge in upstate New York, they decided to film a live DVD, Wanted: Live at Turkey Trot, to capture the excitement of the reformed NRPS.

Capture it they did! From the red-hot version of "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy" that opens the disc to the epic 16-minute "Garden of Eden," the band is Hittin' the Note throughout. Buddy Cage gives a clinic on pedal steel, showing why he is a legend on the instrument. David Nelson is grizzled charisma personified, whether telling the classic story of "Panama Red" or ripping a solo on "Portland Woman" that is equal parts bluegrass, country and rock and roll.

 

Hittin' The Note

Michael Falzarano - The King James Sessions

Blues Planet Records BPCD 8426

By John Lynskey

From 1983-2002, Michael Falzarano's distinctive guitar work and rough-hewn vocals were essential components of Hot Tuna, as well as all the Jorma Kaukonen solo projects, but on The King James Sessions, Michael charts his own musical course and reaches a worthwhile destination.  "Catfishin' " is a fun-loving opener, with a real down-home feel to it, while "I Know You Rider"  tips its hat to Michael's Hot Tuna days, but a nasty, gritty tip it is. The blues of the Mississippi Delta soak through "Crossroads Avenue"  with nice picking and earthy vocals by Michael and timely piano fills from Pete Sears, his old Tuna buddy. "These Colors Don't Run" is a patriotic rocker, and then comes the soulful lament, "Honey I just Want You." The aching ballad "The Long Road Home" falls in line with Michael's Tuna classic, "Gypsy Fire," as does "I Ain't Taking My Boots Off Here"  which is ten minutes of winding, delicate beauty.  "Soul Searchlight" has a lovely gospel tinge to it, directly in the mold of The Band's version of [Bob Dylan's] "When I Paint My Masterpiece." "Last Train Out" is a somber tribute to Allan Woody, the late bassist for Gov't Mule and The Allman Brothers Band, and features Jason Crosby's tasteful violin work. The visceral determinatin heard in "One More Round" is the perfect closer to The King James Sessions, which is and album filled with real music, played lovingly - and enjoyed easily, from the first note till the last..

Relix Magazine

Michael Falzarano - The King James Sessions

Blues Planet Records BPCD 8426

By Rob O’Connor

Initially conceived as a quiet acoustic collection of modern blues, Hot Tuna/Memphis Pilgrims guitarist Michael Falzarano quickly found himself surrounded by too many friends not to make a boisterous, joyous noise. Cut live a floor above a Brooklyn music store, The King James Sessions is a seasoned music veteran’s tribute to the music that inspires and defines him. No curveballs are thrown. “I Know You Rider” is given a full-body workout. Allman Brother/Gov’t Mule’s Allen Woody is saluted (“Last Train Out”) and 9/11is never far from this proud New Yorker’s heart (“These Colors Don’t Run”). Light on innovation, strong on execution, Sessions captures inspired blues performances throughout as Charlie Wolfe’s harmonica proves throughout.

Blues Jam Fourm Mag.

Michael Falzarano - The King James Sessions

Blues Planet Records BPCD 8426

By  Mark "Dr.Blues" Gresser.

Yowsa, the driving rods are turning great driving wheels with coal being hurled into the open fiery maw by dervish firemen.  The music pours into the air with irresistible force as the great beast crosses the countryside, emitting shards of stellar sound and primal rhythm.  Falzarano strides down the steel rails of roots with genuine fervor.  There's no avoiding it, no averting the eyes, no closing the ears and no ignoring a CD of aural American iron.  It just happens that there is a fair piece of plucked iron going on, raspy delivery and purely powered funk driving this CD with a sound so real, so near, so entrenched that it deforms the time-space continuum of your soul as you hear it.  Acoustically programmed in a band format, Falzarano gathers no moss on this intrinsically magnificent rolling stone that is realized with rocking clarity.  So, what does it all mean, you query.  This is da bomb of blues CDs, peopled by the likes of Kerry Kearney and crew, Kane Daily, Professor Louie, Pete Sears, Alexis Suter and a whole host of Woodstock rootsters too!! The Devil, the Delta, fryin' catfish, hot blowing winds, NYC pride, cajun rhythms, the red-white and blue's gonna take you down Mr. terrorist man, love me or love me not, simple twists of fate, life stories and journeys, Blues, hoedown jamming, filigree of sound solos, deep to the heart majesty is it.  Oh man, what a record.  It's a Rosetta stone of roots that puts the wheels to the iron and pins down to the center.  Fabulous.  Absolutely killer.  9.5 snaves.     Blues Planet Records  BPCD 8426      2005

Kweevak Music Magizine

Michael Falzarano - The King James Sessions

Blues Planet Records BPCD 8426

By Laura Turner Lynch

Michael Falzarano is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer and songwriter based out of New York City. Michael has been playing music for over 35 years in a variety of bands including the legendary Hot Tuna for close to 20 years. The King James Sessions is a solo project that started out as an acoustic duo with fellow composer and musician Kerry Kearney. Falzarano and Kearney were recording tracks in a "great sounding room" using "old school" methods ( everybody playing together), yet somehow the album evolved and before Michael knew it a bunch of his friends, talented players armed with a diversity of instruments were in on the sessions. The end result was a dozen animated songs that convey the spontaneity and the live talent behind the music. Michael writes visual and vivid songs with a variety of instruments from Dobro to synth which add to their richness. Falzarano draws from a colorful pallet of genres including county, Dixie, rock and plenty of blues. The CD opens on a down home mood with 'Catfishin'. The up-tempo country-rock tempo and instrumentation casts just the right atmosphere and there are a variety of sounds to focus on too. 'New Season' features flavorful instrumentation with solos along with harmonizing vocals and a catchy rhythm. It's a great jam clocking in at close to seven minutes. 'Honey I Just Want You' is spicy blend of styles with a big dash of Dixie. 'Oh Kathleen' grabs you with its catchy Bo-Diddley groove yet the song travels quite a few musical roads as Michael, supported by backing vocals sings, with soul. The King James Sessions is a royal record!
Recommended Tracks: (1,4,6,8)

Blue Storm Music

Michael Falzarano - The King James Sessions

Blues Planet Records BPCD 8426

By Arnie Goodman

Two much-underrated Cd’s have come to our attention, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, Featuring Walter Trout and Michael Falzarano, The King James Sessions ( member of Hot Tuna). Both should not be overlooked.

Poet Laureate / M. L. Liebler

I love the new CD (The King James Sessions). I listened driving back to Detroit yesterday.,  I really like the Boots narrative, the song for Woody "Last Train Out" and the last song "One More Round", Beautiful work!  You got great songwriting chops my brother.  This is Americana at its best!  Love It.

Chris Laporta / WUSB


Had the chance to listen to your new release The King James Sessions and it's a fine one.  Maybe we can get you up on The Bayou soon.

Downstate NY Blues Association

By Deb Dunn

I love your CD!!! It's great, specifically Crossroads Ave.  GREAT SONG!!!! I have put some of your songs on our radio show on 365 Live. I would also like to consider this CD for submission for the self produced blues CD down in Memphis, {at the Blues In Memphis Festival]........

 

 Selected Press Reviews For Michael Flazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims

The East Coast Rocker

 By Rob Patterson

“Speaking of roots:  later that Saturday night I caught two very promising examples of that at The Ludlow Street Cafe, a virtual two band twang-fest with Long Gone Daddies and Michael Falzarano & The Memphis Pilgrims.  The latter (and later) band, Memphis Pilgrims, were one hot to trot combo from the first note, their sound sparked by a fiery lead guitarist (Michael Slater) and the passionate sort of energy level that makes basic rock work and feel so special.  They have such an authentically Southern feel—read natural passion, seemingly lazy precision and raw authenticity—that one might mistake them for making the pilgrimage from Memphis rather than to there, because these guys are actually New Yorkers, and one of the best new Downtown bands I’ve seen in some time to boot.  The Memphis Pilgrims are simply and wonderfully a real rock ‘n’ roll band.”

Independents Daze

Michael Falazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims - Mecca

By Mick Skidmore

“Another welcome pleasure is Mecca (Relix) by the Michael Falzarano & Memphis Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims are a rootsy, Stax-style R&B and blues outfit led by Hot Tuna’s Michael Falzarano.  Falzarano comes across here as a much more confident and powerful singer than he does with Hot Tuna.  In fact, he is downright impressive.  Completing the band is fellow Tuna cohort Harvey Sorgen on drums, Steve Rust on bass and Jimmy Eppard on guitar.  This quartet delivers some wonderfully infectious, inspired and varied music that has the spirit and authentic feel of the city for which it is named.  The stark country stomper “Damned If You Don’t, Damned If You Do,” the evocative, soulful “Judge, I’m Not Sorry” and the spunky R&B of “Love Gone Flat” offer plenty evidence of that.  More than anything, this disc shows that Falzarano is an incredibly gifted songwriter with a wide musical vocabulary.  Helping out on several songs are Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen and Pete Sears.”

Downtown Magazine

By R. Peterson

“Heading into the night, Memphis Pilgrims play the Rodeo Bar.  This is a band with enough moxie and guts to get your soul shakin’.  They’re more exciting and daring than similarly-minded acts like The Fabulous Thunderbirds, but the problem is:  who believes roots rock from New York?  I think it’s one of the city’s hottest untapped genres, and this band could be a leading light.”

Beat Magazine

Michael Falazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims - Mecca

By Eric Lambert

“Kick off your shoes and get ready to dance!  Mecca, the debut CD by Michael Falzarano & The Memphis Pilgrims, is chock full of good time, high energy performances and inspiring, infectious grooves.

The Memphis Pilgrims are a New York City quartet led by Hot Tuna guitarist Michael Falzarano.  These fellas may be born and raised in the city, but they have produced a collection of music steeped in rich southern tradition and heavily influenced by the early rock ‘n’ roll rhythm and blues of historic Memphis.

Joining Falzarano, who not only played guitar but sang and wrote all 12 songs on this disk, is Hot Tuna member Harvey Sorgen on drums, and fellow New Yorkers Jimmy Eppard on guitar and backing vocals and Steve Rust on bass and backing vocals.

Making guest appearances are the legendary Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, current Tuna and ex-Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears on piano and accordion, Danny Lewis of Gov't Mule on Hammond organ and piano, David Castglione on sax, and Larry Packer on fiddle.

This CD grooves from one selection to the next.  The first number “It’s Over, is very funky and features a screaming Danny Lewis organ intro.  The vocals are strong and the guitar hook sings like a bird.

“I Was The One” is a bar room rock ‘n’ roller featuring some great honky tonk piano and a rock solid back-beat. “I Want You Back” starts off with some cool rockabilly guitar a la Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore, and transforms into a thundering freight train boogie woogie that is highlighted by some great interplay between the guitar, fiddle and piano.  Falzarano digs deep and sings from the heart on every selection.

Mecca is one of those CD’s that just keeps ending up in my CD player.  Every time I play it I hear something new.  The recording is clean and the performance is live and energetic.  I find myself singing and dancing from the first song to the last.

I would hope that the Pilgrims have plans to tour simply because I would love to experience this great band in person.  Their music is gut level and honest, it smolders with grittiness and cool.  Congratulations to Michael Falzarano and the Memphis Pilgrims for one of the best CD’s I have heard in a long time.” (Rating:  9)

Journal of Trionic Physics

Michael Falazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims - Mecca

By Dan Paolino

The Pilgrims make a virtual hadj to their Mecca, Memphis, Tennessee. It's all here: faithless women, getting drunk, lonesome highways, the pain-in-the-ass boss. Pop Mecca into your car for that top down, first breath of spring, sunny afternoon cruising feeling (forget the Levi's ads; this is the real American experience). Some might call it "roots rock", but we don't believe in labels here at JTP. The Memphis Pilgrims are an honest, straight ahead, unaffected Rock and Roll band. Their sound is not ground breaking, in fact, it's pretty derivative - but so what! - this kind of authentic music is always hard to come by, especially when the record companies, radio stations and club owners (it couldn't be the fickle consumer, could it?) are always driven by the flavor of the month (anybody think the Spice Girls' next release will be dominated by raw, stark Delta Blues???).

Musically, the Memphis Pilgrims are a vehicle for Michael Falzarano. His guitar and voice drive all the tracks on the album, aided by Jimmy Eppard's sparse (but still smokin') solo runs. Danny Lewis of Gov’t Mule could be considered the "Fifth Pilgrim", since his bright, aggressive piano makes this a substantially better recording, particularly on songs like "I Was The One". Jorma Kaukonen plays on a few tracks; my ear is not sophisticated enough to absolutely identify his guitar, but there's a great slide part on "You Haunt my Soul" and a crunching solo on "Just My Way", and he plays on both. Pete Sears (piano and accordion), Dave Castiglione (sax) and Larry Packer (fiddle) also make some nifty contributions.

Harvey Sorgen produced, and he's done a great job integrating all these elements into the mix without compromising the integrity of the songs, or of the Pilgrims' sound. Getting a good sound from the drums is a crucial aspect of making a good rock and roll recording, and Harvey nailed that part, for sure. The music is crisp, clear, and up-front, and it's not watered down by excessive multi tracking. There's an acoustic foundation on most of these tracks that is nicely preserved despite the rave-up nature of these songs.

My two favorite cuts are "Kathleen", a tasty gumbo stirred by a New Orleans-style rhythm, and featuring a great Lowell George-like slide, Pete Sears on squeeze box, a cool fiddle solo, and more great piano from Lewis; and "Judge, I'm Not Sorry", a vividly produced slow blues number where the guitars (dobro, stand-up bass, and a echo-laden lap steel) sound like they're playing in your living room.

Daily Freeman

Michael Falazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims - Mecca

By Philp H. Farber

Mecca the first release from Michael Falazarano & The Memphis Pilgrims positions this roots-rock band firmly on the map, pointed to the Mecca of Memphis and not too far from their destination. Mecca as the album is appropriately titled, features 12 songs penned by Pilgrims/Hot Tuna guitarist Michael Falazarano.  The songs played in a comfortable yet technically excellent way by Falzarano along with Jimmy Eppard on Guitar, Steve Rust on bass and Harvey Sorgen on drums and making guest appearances are the legendary Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, current Tuna and ex-Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears on piano and accordion, Danny Lewis of Gov’t Mule on Hammond organ and piano, David Castglione on sax, and Larry Packer on fiddle. They play these blues-influenced, roots-rocking tunes with style and energy. The songs hark back to the early influences of rock that have always kept the music alive. There’s a bit of rockabilly, some Cajun spice and plenty of honest rock’n’roll. Falzarano’s songs are memorable and infectious. It’s easy to find yourself humming these tunes for days after just one listen. The long history of the band ensures that they are able to play together in ways that constantly demonstrate a top-notch musical chemistry and the ability to listen and interact spontaneously. As with any band of this kind the songs seem like teasers for extended jams. Everything about Mecca screams that Michael Falzarano & the Memphis Pilgrims are a band that need to catch live and get your ya-yas out. You can’t go wrong with this band, anyone who appreciates tightly-played well-crafted, authentic rock’n’roll well enjoy this album. ♦♦♦♦½ (out of 5)

Jambanbs.com

By Suzie Cream Cheeze

Michael Falzarano with One-Eyed Jack
Tobacco Rd
, Hell s Kitchen NYC

...........The second set opened with Michael Falzarano (Hot Tuna) on acoustic and One-Eyed Jack behind him doing Big Railroad Blues.  Falzarano’s vocals were great and O-E J complemented his style. He sat in on 2 O-E J songs Brother Tom & Move On.   Excellent versions and the acoustic was definitely a treat to hear in these songs. It added a whole new dynamic.  Falzarano then went into Going down the Road.   Once again his vocals were great and extra harmonies by Joe & Jeff added to the mix.  Katie stepped up for the new Draw the Line.   Friend of the Devil with Falzarano on vocals followed. Then Deep Elm Blues a great shuffled out version, the bass was a whailin! Luved it.  Then a real  surprise, Joe pulled out Kevin Kinney 's Straight to Hell.   This was the first time the band did this one and since Falzarano was at the Allen Woody benefit I guess the band took advantage of his presence.  It was a great ending song with Mike and Joe on vocals for the chorus........ 

 Selected Press Reviews For Michael Flazarano with Hot Tuna / Jorma Kaukonen Trio

Gibson Guitar Centennial Celebration

By J.C. Juanis

....... Greg Allman also joined the concert's headliners, Hot Tuna, sitting in on his Hammond B-3 organ for "Hesitation Blues" and "99 Year Blues". Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy were scorching during a long stellar rendition of "Ice Age". Pete Sears was also right on the money, adding some rollicking piano throughout the set. Michael Falzarano rocked the house with an incendiary version of his song "My AK-47". The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Quicksilver Messenger Service drummer Greg Elmore then joined Hot Tuna for a jam that will certainly go down as one of the Bay Area's best. Weir led the group with a spirited reading of "Walkin' Blues".

The Music Box

By John Metzger

Hot Tuna at The House Of Blues / Chicago

Hot Tuna has been recording and touring for more than 25 years. Though I've seen several different incarnations of the band in abbreviated sets over the past decade, their December 5 performance at House of Blues in Chicago made me a huge fan.

Hot Tuna grew as an off-shoot of Jefferson Airplane, and at its core is guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady. Augmented by keyboardist Pete Sears, guitarist Michael Falzarano, and drummer/percussionist Harvey Sorgen, the group performed two sets, totaling two hours and forty minutes, of scorching blues-based songs. This was the first real blues band I've seen at the House of Blues.

Kaukonen handled a majority of the vocals with ease and grace, delivering each line with a Dylan-esque sneer. Falzarano handled the balance of the vocals, most notably on Gypsy Fire -- perhaps the best song that the group performed this evening. He delivered the song with a guttural drawl, as Kaukonen took the opportunity to step back from the microphone and deliver a pair of bluesy solos that were truly masterpieces. On this song, his guitar playing mutated from his own unique style to that of Eric Clapton and even Duane Allman.

Throughout the evening, each solo that soared from Kaukonen's guitar fit the song and the mood perfectly. On songs like Walkin' Blues, How Long Blues, and Hesitation Blues, Kaukonen picked his way through a solid blues groove. Songs like Come Back Baby provided quite a contrast as Kaukonen unleashed a furious onslaught of electrified notes guaranteed to melt your brain. Of course, there were also the more folk-based arrangements like Good Shepherd on which his guitar sang beautifully, dodging in and out of Casady's glistening bass patterns.

The group even pulled out a mini-set of stripped-down songs, featuring Sears on accordion and Sorgen on a washboard. The band tore through Let Us Get Together Right Down Here and Candyman as Sorgen danced around the stage, tapping out a series of rhythmic patterns to punctuate the songs.

The most amazing aspect of the evening was the way that the band performed as a cohesive unit. It never felt as if it was time for one person to take a solo. Instead, the band jammed -- each person playing what they wanted to play while remaining in the context created by the other musicians. The interplay was not limited to Kaukonen and Casady. Each member of the band took part in the dense, musical mural that became each song. Whether it was Falzarano adding some extra punch to the rhythmic chords of Embryonic Journey, Sears subtle keyboard accompaniments and swirling solos, or Casady's vigorous lead bass lines, the group moved as one in their kaleidoscopic endeavor.

The group capped off the evening with a solid run-through of the Grateful Dead's Friend of the Devil. Sung by Falzarano, the band put their own blues-based stamp on the song, making it their own. It was a fine way to end an outstanding evening of music. I'll certainly be watching for their return to Chicago!

Jambanbs.com

"Too Many Years" - Jorma Kaukonen Trio
American Heritage RRCD2094
By Rob S. Turner

Jorma Kaukonen has been recording and performing for over forty years now. These days his work at the Fur Peace Ranch is taking up quite a bit of his time. Jorma still has some time to tour and record, and his most recent release "Too Many Years", is definitely a "must have" for even his most casual fans. I hesitate to call this the best of his career, because who knows what the hell is out there?! However, I've kept up with him for over twenty years, and this is clearly his best output that I am aware of, outside of his work with Hot Tuna.

From the bluesy realism of the opening Fools Blues to the spirited cover of Friend Of The Devil which closes the CD there is a consistent soulfulness underlying the music on here. The players on the CD make up the members of the Jorma Kaukonen Trio.  Pete Sears' understated work on piano and organ is vital to the music. Michael Falzarano is in his best voice to date, and his rhythm guitar supports Jorma without getting in his way.

While the title track has less sting than the biting darkness of Jorma's solo version on his "Too Hot To Handle" CD, it still succeeds in delivering the pain associated with fading love. Jorma's vocal approach combines with Sears' elegant organ to create a mournful tone. Johnny Cash's Home Of The Blues is a perfect follow-up, as it tells the story of one who is content to be immersed in music. Sears lends a smart accordion solo to the mix, and Jorma offers an expressive lead vocal without sacrificing clarity.

Jorma rearranges the bluegrass standard Nine Pound Hammer and turns it into a jaunty blues. His phrasing is Dylan-esque, as he twists some words, and like Bob, uses the "rush to catch up" style beautifully. His judicious approach to his guitarwork fits in perfectly with his arrangement. There is even a quick change in chord progression in the instrumental break that I've not heard in other versions of the song, giving the ear a mid-song tickle. He also injects his own inimitable style into Ronnie Self's Big Town. Jorma sandwiches two killer acoustic solos around a nice Sears lead. At one point, Jorma repeats a series of notes in his own familiar style, injecting extra soul into the rendition.

I still remember the first time I heard the Falzarano penned tune Gypsy Fire at the '98 Charlotte Furthur show. Hot Tuna was opening for The Other Ones. Even though I was deep in anticipation of my first Other Ones show, I was blind-sided by the elegance of the song. Plus, Jorma took a breathtaking solo in a style that we don't get to see him play every day. While this version is not as crushing as that one (check out the "And Furthurmore" release for a more strident version) it is still a sparkling track. Jorma lends some dizzying guitarwork during and after the final refrain. Jorma is refreshingly willing to share the spotlight as he includes Michael Falzarano compositions on his own CD. Falzarano is well represented as a songwriter by Gypsy Fire, and his 50s flavored blues romp, Larue Larue. Jorma scorches his lead on this one, exhibiting his ability to liberally fire notes out without muddying the feel. You Got To Move also hearkens back to days of yore.

When I first saw Hot Tuna at the Boston Orpheum back in November of 1983, they played a song called Junkies On Angel Dust late in their set. It was an explosive version of which I still have vivid memories. Unfortunately, I didn't pick up the lyrics at the time, nor have I understood many of them in any of the versions I've seen since. Well, it appears on this album, and now it's called, Man For All Seasons. Jorma's extra effort on vocals really pays off on this one. Instrumentally, this is a more controlled version than the mind-bender's Hot Tuna used to toss out. There is some sweet Sears/Kaukonen conversation at one point, and Falzarano's prudent rhythm guitar quietly bolsters the performance.

Fans of Arlo Guthrie may hear strains of Gabriel's Mother's Highway Ballad #16 Blues, in Heaven On Earth. This pleasant Kaukonen/Falzarano instrumental may not be the strongest track on the CD, but it does showcase Falzarano's mandolin ability. Speaking of Falzarano, I believe this represents the first release with him taking the lead vocal on a Rev. Gary Davis song. With him singing, Say No To The Devil, Jorma is freed up to add some extra baubels in the verse sections of a Davis song. Jorma's piercing steel guitar and the urgency of Falzarano's vocal delivery crackle out of the speaker. Sears' lead on the organ is one part church, another part honky-tonk. I love this number, and it's a fun song to put on just as your headin' out the door.

The pining Kaukonen/Falzarano Hypnotation Blues lets Jorma and Pete display their considerable acumen as soloists. The bed of simple lyrics and straight ahead blues progression becomes a launching pad for some stellar guitar work. Sears lays subtle organ behind Jorma, but it's his lead work on the piano that sticks in the mind. Jorma's unusual approach to builds, and his knack for blending subtlety and strength are on full display here. This is an eleven minute track that feels like half that.

The creative opening to Friend Of The Devil foreshadows that this will not be like any other FOTD ever heard. They lend a jovial feel to it, while still displaying compositional respect. Perhaps the experience of three Furthur Festivals has rubbed off on Falzarano, as he sounds more than comfortable delivering the lead vocal. Jorma's guitar solo finds him sneaking in subtle Garcia references without straying from his own style one bit. Sears piano tickling gives way to some aggressive pounding that powers the song into another Jorma lead, as he cooks up "ol Red" before concluding it with one last Garcia reference in his summation.

It is an appropriate closer for an album by a man who has never been shy about the "trickle down" benefit of being associated with The Grateful Dead. Many Deadheads are more than thankful for his meaningful contributions on the Furthur tours.

Relix Magazine

 "Too Many Years" - Jorma Kaukonen Trio
American Heritage RRCD2094

By Mick Skidmore

An absolute must for Relix readers is Jorma Kaukonen’s Too Many Years. The album contains a baker’s dozen cuts and is one of Jorma’s most essential and diverse solo discs. Having said that, the album isn’t so much a solo effort, but more Hot Tuna without a rhythm section. The contributions from Michael Falzarano (who wrote two cuts and co-wrote two more) and the dazzling keyboard playing of Pete Sears are quite formidable and integral to the success of the album. From the opening “Fool’s Blues,” it is evident that the trio really gels. Sears’ piano backing and Falzarano’s solid rhythm guitar free Kaukonen to concentrate on crisp, melodic leads. As a result, Kaukonen responds with some superlative and refreshing playing.There’s a delightful jaunt through swing territory with “Big Town,” which has a confident vocal from Mr. K, and more fluid soloing. Falzarano sings his own “Gypsy Fire,” which is one of the disc’s highlights. Two old songs are reworked, the title cut (originally from the Airplane reunion album of 1989) and a seven-and-a-half-minute take of “Man For All Seasons” (aka “Junkies On Angel Dust”). The former, a heartfelt tale of a broken relationship, takes on new poignancy with this majestic performance. Other highpoints are the guttural, slide driven version of Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move,” a sparkling re-arrangement of the Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil” and the 11-minute Kaukonen/Falzarano “Hypnotation Blues” which contains some great instrumental work, especially from Sears. Kaukonen, Falzarano and Sears have been touring as the Jorma Kaukonen Trio in addition to being members of the reverential Hot Tuna, and this solid effort attests to the fact that they have found solid footing as an acoustic trio.

The Music Box

"Too Many Years" - Jorma Kaukonen Trio
American Heritage RRCD2094

Too Many Years may very well be the best album Jorma Kaukonen has ever put together, and on this latest effort, he successfully captured the sound that fans have come to expect from his live performances. The disc was recorded and produced by Michael Falzarano at the studio at his Fur Peace Ranch. Consequently, it has a loose, easy-going mood, and for once, Kaukonen seems comfortable and relaxed in his surroundings. Included on this collection are songs that have long been concert mainstays for Hot Tuna, and appropriately, Kaukonen shares the limelight with two of his cohorts from that band -- Michael Falzarano and Pete Sears (The Jorma Kaukonen Trio). There's no question that Kaukonen's guitar is the focal point for the album, and his acoustic technique shines brightly with a crisp clarity that graces such choice nuggets as Fool's Blues and Home of the Blues. In addition, his vocals have never sounded stronger, particularly on an exquisite rendition of Too Many Years that was re-written to carry a more reflective tone. However, Kaukonen couldn't have made this album without the help of Falzarano and Sears. There is a familiarity between the musicians that allows them to work together to capture the magic of their live performances. Sears alternates between majestic piano and angelic organ, while Falzarano keeps things moving with his typically solid rhythmic strum. In addition, Falzarano handles the vocals on several of the selections, including a passionate reading of Gypsy Fire that spurs the group to bring the tune to a rousing conclusion......   ½

Hot Tuna And Furthurmore  Arista GDCD 4068

By Brian L. Knight

Like his San Francisco counterpart, Jerry Garcia, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen can play a whole range of styles. As a lead guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane, his psychedelic solos would send audiences at places like the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West on transcendental journeys. While playing with the Airplane, Kaukonen also formed Hot Tuna with longtime friend and fellow Airplane member, bassist Jack Casady. Together, the two recorded a number of albums ranging from their acoustic based debut album and the hard rocking First Pull Up, Then Pull Down. Since the early 1970s, Hot Tuna has seen numerous lineup changes with Casady and Kaukonen always forming the backbone. During the 1990s, the band mutated into Kaukonen, Casady, guitarist Michael Falzarano, drummer Harvey Sorgen and keyboardist Pete Sears. During the latter stages of the millenium, this lineup was one of the featured acts on the Furthur Festival (A musical carnival that celebrated the culture and music of the Grateful Dead). And Furthurmore is a compilation of the famous 1998 Furthur Festival tour which also featured the Other Ones (former Grateful Dead members) and Rusted Root. This disc covers many of the tunes that made Hot Tuna and especially the guitar playing of Kaukonen famous – the rocking True Religion" "Funky #7" and "Been So Long"; the acoustic ballads of "I am The Light " and "Third Week in Chelsea" and the beautiful instrumentals "Embryonic Journey" and the "Water Song". In addition to Kaukonen’s fingerpicking and soloing, Falzarano’s guitar playing is highlighted on songs such as "Gypsy Fire" , Big Railroad Blues and "Just My Way". Although there is a mass proliferation of Hot Tuna albums such as their self titled debut album, Splashdown, Live at the Sweetwater, Historic Hot Tuna and Double Dose, And Furthurmore stands out for two reason – 1)the song selection is one of the finest to be found on a live Hot Tuna album and 2) this lineup may just be one of the finest incarnations of the band.

Jorma Kaukonen Trio Live
Jorma Kaukonen, Michael Falzarano and Pete Sears

Jorma Kaukonen is an American treasure. As a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane and its psychedelic boogie-blues offshoot, Hot Tuna, Kaukonen’s innovative, electric guitar wizardry helped shape the mind blowing ‘San Francisco sound’ that rocked the Woodstock generation. But there’s a lot more to his music than fuzz boxes, wahwah pedals and cranked amplifiers. Like an acoustic guitar for example. And a sense of history. Performing with Tuna mates, rhythm guitarist Michael Falzarano and Pete Sears on keyboards, -Live- is an intimate glimpse into Jorma’s acoustic explorations. And not only as a player. Widely regarded as one of the top ‘finger pickers’ on the planet, Jorma’s no slouch as a songwriter. Two of his most enduring tunes, the deeply spiritual "I See The Light," and the instrumental masterpiece, "Embryonic Journey," both get warm and thoroughly enjoyable treatments on this Relix Records release. Recorded while the trio was on tour in ‘99, -Live- also includes stunning versions of several traditional numbers Kaukonen’s had in the repertoire since reigning as king of the Bay Area's coffee house circuit back in the ‘60s. Among the highlights: a goosebump generating take on the Reverend Gary Davis classic, "Death Don’t Have No Mercy," and a super sweet "I Know You Rider," that Kaukonen, Sears and Falzarano jam to perfection. Flashback or not, -Live- is a potent dos of acoustic Jorma.

Jorma Kaukonen Trio Live
Jorma Kaukonen, Michael Falzarano and Pete Sears

Recorded on tour 1999 with Hot Tuna band mates, Pete Sears and Michael Falzarano, features 11 great and timeless classics, including "True Religion," "Embryonic Journey," "Friend of the Devil" and more. A must have for all Tuna fans and Jorma lovers.