Adam Ezra Group whipped up some exciting music at their seventh Ramble on Salisbury Beach last Saturday night. An event which raises funds for veterans related matters, AEG headlines it each year after organizing those who support the cause and a bunch of other bands who play on either of two stages set up for the event. Adam Ezra and his band mates, with special guests made up of those musicians who played earlier, created plenty of sparks with their solid songs.
Adam Ezra Group began with their usual opening “The Toast,” a down tempo anthem that calls on all to celebrate life. The band, with Ezra on banjo, played a gritty, flamboyant Ezra tune called “Steal Your Daughter,” a highlight being Ezra’s handsome sandpaper vocal over a landscape of haunting, brisk instrumentation. A newer song, “I Believe,” went over well with the Ramble crowd as did another one called “Yesterday Right Today.” The bass drum in Alex Martin’s kit carried all of the guitar chords, fiddle fun as Ezra crooned merrily through his upbeat song.
Jake Bush, from a previous band in the lineup, Pesky J. Nixon, came up to play his accordion during Ezra’s “Ms. Hallelujah. That accordion worked well with keyboardist Josh Gold’s sentimental organ melody. Next, Adam Ezra Group went into their edgy rocker “Kill Like This,” and it got an extra boost from Kali who rapped in a similar the during his section of the tune.
By this point, it was clear at AEG’s fiddle player, Corinna Smith, was having a particularly good night. Her fiddle lines were sharp and pronounced and she made them dance all over each song. During “Burn Brightly,” Ezra raved about the cause he and the bands, organizers, and charities were there for, raising money for the Gold Star families. Ezra was more enthusiastic during his “Let Your Hair Down” ditty before becoming funkier with “Hippie Groove.” Here, Gold’s organ groove and Smith’s fiddle spikes gave the song a crack like whip sensation.
Vermont singer-songwriter Chad Hollister, who was not on the schedule, drove down from his home state to attend the Ramble. He got called up to sing backing vocals on AEG’s “Takin’ Off. “The band’s “Devil’s Side” gave drummer Alex Martin a chance to solo, a monster work out that compelled many to move their feet to what he was pounding out. A water bottle left standing on a amp case was dancing around the container from the vibrations coming from the stage.
Ezra and his band mates performed what may be their darkest song, “14 Days,” closing it out with Josh Gold’s ecstatic, fiery organ work. Gold charged right into the foreboding song and made it his with a wild, frenzied organ phrase. To close out such an incredible day of music and giving, AEG called up everyone who performed that day to join him and his band mates for an emotional, rousing rendition of The Beatles’ “Let It Be.”
There were some other great bands and singer-songwriters at the Ramble. One stand out was Connecticut’s Frank Viele Band. These guys jumped right into their set with true rock and roll fury and a fearless, highly skilled lead guitar player who set every song on fire. With his four piece, pedal to the floor band behind him, Viele went on to belt like a demon possessed through all of his original numbers. One could feel the pound coming from the bass drum. One was impressed by the adept organ work. One could feel the low end forging a groove with sheer force of personality. A cover of “Feelin’ All Right” also let Viele express his demon strength at the microphone.
Also putting in a noteworthy performance last Saturday afternoon was singer-songwriter Marina Evans. Performing as a duo with her Italian born husband, Bernardo Baglioni, Evans took her audience to a special place in each song. Her girlish, chirpy voice meshed perfectly with her husband as each played good acoustic guitar parts, many of their melody lines twining like a sweet confection. At one point, Baglioni played acoustic slide, putting lines of greasy, soulful notes behind Evan’s vocal, which shined on the surface of the tune. Her husband’s mandolin came in handy during another twirl of vocals. Evans dedicated her tune “One Way Or The Other” to the service men and women of America. Her sweeping vocal and wide expansive chorus were full of emotion. Her “How Many Miles” was a bit brisker than her previous tunes as she whistled a second melody in this pleasant nugget of a song.
Sometimes a band just jumps up and grab us by our ears. There was definitely something there in the distinct sound of one particular band. San Lorenzo might have been a marriage of rock and roll and mariachi. Their lead singer had a curious vocal timbre that combined with a Spanish flavor to create an otherworldly quality. This band was so on and they knew how to draw on their original influences. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see this band go places.
Every artist at The Ramble was special, with something unique to offer, which is probably why each was selected to play.
The Jordan TW Trio started their set with a touch of Celtic melody, a lilting melody which segued into a swinging country music feel. Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki plays fiddle. Mat Jensen plays guitar. Chris Noyes plays bass. Noyes created a lot of beats and plenty of foot stomping momentum with his upright. The trio’s take on Dougie McClain’s “Feel So Near” was bright and warm with the multiple textures from each acoustic instrument making their own musical statement, leaving their own imprint. The trio offered a pleasant change of style from the other acts but not a change of pace. They rocked in their own way as much as anybody else performing at The Ramble.
Pesky J. Nixon was another act there that made the most of acoustic instruments as they whipped up an earthy organic texture. Their interpretation of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” was loaded with soulful vocals over traditional instruments. Another tune, “Who’ll Love You When I’m Gone” featured fine mandolin and lively Americana percussion instruments.
Halley Sabella is as talented as she is likable. Her songs, like “Put You At Ease,” reflect a gentle personality. Her melodic lines on guitar reflect the musicality of someone who knows how to tickle the ear with something sweet. Her lead guitarist played a simmering phrase, earning his paycheck for sure. Sabella’s demeanor often creates an interesting contrast with the music she’s playing. Her girlish vulnerability made Sheryl Crowe’s “Are You Strong Enough To Be My Man” into a whole new tender rendition.
Another interesting band was Young Frontier. YF offered a tuft of Americana roots fiber inside their dark fueled overtones. Guitarist Jesse King was filling in for his brother Dan, the actual member guitarist of the band, and he did pretty well on guitar and mandolin for guy who was just subbing. Vocalist Joe Young displayed a powerful voice, booming like a firebrand preacher through his microphone, out his amps and into the souls of the band’s listener. Cellist Bethany Weiman held down the low end in her own special way while occasionally sweetening the higher registers.
If all of those bands and singer-songwriters were not enough, there was an after party held at The Upper Deck right above the action on the beach. It featured Kali And The Ancestors In Training playing soulful music. By the time The Ramble was over, many likely would’ve felt it was one of their best music events of the year. Not only did everyone get to listen to outstanding musical acts all day and late into the night, everyone also got to support a worthy cause, Gold Star families. What an event.