Common Knowledge rolled out some fantastic covers of classic rock and blues numbers at the holiday party at the Village Trestle in Goffstown, New Hampshire last night. It was hard to get into the socializing aspect and the food when a six-piece band of top-notch musicians were laying down a monster sound.
Common Knowledge features lead singer Amberly Gibbs, her husband, guitarist Scot Gibbs, saxophonist-harpist-singer Steve Roberge, bass player Bill Ingalls, drummer Bob Pratte, and sound man “Slutty” Pete Zona occasionally singing and or playing harmonica.
Singer Amberly Gibbs stands out from other female vocalists on the scene. She comes across like a girl next door and she’s as cute as a Winnie The Poo teddy bear. Yet, the perception changes when she belts into her microphone like a tough blues mama with a hard core rasp and a range that can tackle everything Common Knowledge covers. She was smooth and quick on KT Tunstall‘s “Black Horse And A Cherry Tree” and she was sultry and even paced on The Pretenders‘ “Brass In Pocket.”
Guitarist Scot Gibbs was steady and strong through out the night, but he was not as precise with his phrasing as he usually is. This may have been the material or the challenge of sharing the stage with five other people.
Bills Ingalls was the steady Eddie anchor on bass and Bob Pratte kept the beat and opened up the spaces from behind the drum kit. The player who really caught my attention was Saxophone man Steve Roberge. I had no idea how fluid he could be on the sax and just when I was cogitating on that, Roberge whipped out a harmonica and did some fancy stuff with that instrument too. He eventually got a chance to sing and reveal his husky, emotive voice as well. It was definitely a night of revelations of Steve Roberge’s talents.. If that wasn’t enough to impress, his wife is a fetching, gorgeous blonde who could pass for 24.
“Slutty” Pete Zona did his thing on harmonica and he sang a slow country blues song in the early set, but he mostly kept busy working the sound.
One highlight came when Roberge nailed a sweet harmonica solo in the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Without Love.” The classic guitar macho anthem by Chicago “I’m A Man” came across with a fullness of sound that had all eyes on the band. Amberly Gibbs delivered a powerhouse vocal on Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet,” and she was strong enough to work it over the monster drum beat from Pratte and her husband Scot Gibbs’ interpretation of the dark, seductive guitar lines. Bill Ingalls delivered the goods when he sang a Credence Clearwater Revival song.
Common Knowledge was gracious enough to let their show turn into a jam, allowing the other musicians in the room to take over the chores for a spell. A guitarist/vocalist known as Jerry Ray nailed a Doors tune, and his jam mates did some other blues-rock stuff before Common Knowledge got their show back.
The sound was a little bit muddy when they came back on, but Zona eventually resolved it. Amberly Gibbs for a bit couldn’t be heard loudly enough. She went missing in the mix. So, somebody sent an “Amber Alert” to the soundman and her blues rasp found its proper place in the sound. She delivered the goods on the Janis Joplin(Kris Kristofferson) number “Me And Bobby MaGee” and she helped guest singer, Trestle proprietor Steve Pascucci ,sing his own song “Let’s Grow Old Together.”
Common Knowledge was a good choice for the holiday party, playing something for everyone in the diverse crowd the Trestle always attracts to its holiday functions. A six-piece band may not be economical for club owners at this time. But if Common Knowledge can find a niche in the current tight market, they will do well for a long time to come.