It was only less than a week ago that Jerry Paquette handed me this CD released last year. The mouthful title of Jerry “The Reverend” Paquette of The Kan-Tu Blues Band Live At The Village Trestle with special guests jumped out at me. It made me think that Paquette could not make up his mind what to call himself and the collection of musicians from Roomful Of Blues that support him here as well as create their own magic around him.
Calling himself Jerry Paquette of “The Kan-Tu Blues Band” reminded me of all the confusion local blues fans experienced when Paquette moved on from his weekly jam at K.C. Rib Shack and his former jam mates renamed themselves the Wan-Tu Blues Band because they still wanted to play. I’m not sure why he referenced the Kan-Tu Blues Band on the CD front jacket as these other musicians are all from Roomful Of Blues.
Yet, the content on the disc made me realize that there was something special going on with the music. Paquette is a legendary guitarist in the northeast and the guys from Roomful Of Blues are well-respected in their own right. Put them together in that special vibe at the Village Trestle in Goffstown, New Hampshire and you have a document that highlights talent and the importance of playing in a really good music room.
The Kan-Tu’s traditional opener “Hipology” also opens this recording and it features a mix of Travis Colby on organ and The “Brassholes” on the horns, Mark Early on tenor saxophone, Bob Enos on trumpet, and Carl Querfurth on the slide trombone. This track proves that there is just no substitute for a groovy organ and a swinging soulful horn section. Colby conjures up the groove these horn players needed to blow hot sounds all over the Trestle.
“Back To The Big Easy” features Rocking’ Jake on vocals and harmonica and his smooth bluesy voice is the perfect sound to glide over this New Orleans beat-driven gumbo. Jake whips out his harmonica and does an outstanding job matching his notes to the swampy groove. Then Paquette, who has been sublimated to this point, comes in with the right amount of technique and style as he gently adds the perfect layer of flavor over this old time beat.
Next up is “Every Day I Got The Blues,” a track that gives Paquette a chance to squeeze out tasty melodic phrases between the groove laid out by bass guitar player Dimitry Gorodetsky and drummer Ephraim Lowell, both on loan from Roomful Of Blues. Paquette and his boys turn this Louis Jordan into an extended jam. Here, the rhythm section are the stars. Their nimble take the traditional blues beat provides a palpable backbone for the others to find a space for their horns, harp, keys, and, of course, Paquette’s sonic flights into lead-rhythm guitar tradeoffs. Paquette doesn’t have one of the greatest voices, but he does have one of the bluesiest. His whiskey-soaked voice full of experience and richness that comes from living life to its fullest.
“Loan Me A Dime” by Fenton Robinson features Paquette making full use of his tough, but plaintive, soul-searching vocal approach while his guitar lets loose a caged beast that spends its freedom stalking a landscape of blues. Barrelhouse piano, forlorn sax, and the tightest rhythm section this side of the state border give Paquette a playground to interject himself into the fun as much as his instincts tell him to. He comes back in after a jam workout and he lets his guitar do the talking, a phrase glowing red hot with a temperature could peel the paint off the walls.
Jerry Reed’s lesser known classic “You Don’t Have To Go” is another fine combo of Roomful’s bopping rhythm section and rocking keyboardist with Paquette’s bad boy guitar. The guitarist grinds out his toughest, dirtiest Chicago blues, his guitar sounding like it is whistling melodies before he again goes back into that muddy blues broth and pulls up a heaping handful.
Travis Colby penned “The Reverend” as an ode to Paquette, and being a young boy doesn’t stop him from the singing the blues with a depth of emotion. Colby’s verse structure and the rhythm section’s easy going, take your time groove gives each player a brief solo spot. Mark Early shines in his moment and you can tell the band members are enjoying themselves at the end of this jam.
The 1953 R&B hit “Mess Around” written by Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun for its up and coming star Ray Charles made for a special work out for these guys. As each does his part to carry the kitschy fun, you can picture an all black night club in an early 1950’s city where everyone is dancing to this rave.
“Why Why Baby” is Paquette’s 16 minute jam session. He graciously introduces the band and gives each more solo spots and they’re all having a blast like kids doing cartwheels. Bob Enos does his sweet trumpet magic and Carl Querfurth works his mighty slide trombone.
This recording and performance is not perfect and yet that is what makes it so endearing. This is what a live recording is all about; the sound of a bunch of guys getting the magic right without a bunch of overdubs even if they’re not hitting every cue and note on time.
Jerry “The Reverend” Paquette of “The Kan-Tu Blues Band” Live At The Village Trestle with special guests is a special document. It captures the infinite potential of many local talents who were hidden away in a downtown nightclub in the small town of Goffstown, New Hampshire. Now, why aren’t there more players from all around New England flocking to the Village Trestle’s Sunday Afternoon Blues Jam?