Sponsored by the newly formed Johnny Winter Foundation Of The Arts, the Generations Gala at Club Royale in Boston last Saturday night offered several good servings of music by artists of different genres and age groups. Variety was the key factor as singers and musicians from wide categories were on stage throughout the night. Host Jeff Timmons from the band 97 Degrees gracefully introduced each act and he kept things running smoothly through the night.
Headliner Elliot Easton, lead guitarist for The Cars, played a few of the hit songs that his band had become famous for. Playing his lime green, left handed Super Rev six string designed by Reverend Guitars, Easton was as much the rock star as ever. I think the other musicians on stage and in the audience admired and envied his instrument. The color of it looked amazing as he moved around on the stage.
Supported by The Stumps and Charlie Farren, Easton’s lead guitar style, as always, captured the fun, quirky personality of The Cars’s songs. He sang lead vocals on “Let The Good Time Roll,” a rollicking tune that found his breezy phrasing kicking the song into gear. Charlie Farren sang lead vocals on “Just What I Needed,” filling in the pop-rock charm at the microphone as Easton captured that old Cars magic. The Stumps organist, Dave Kurdzionak, nailed the swirling keyboard part that was so integral to this number in its original recording. The Easton-Farren-Stumps combo closed out their set with “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend,” another trip down memory lane with Easton’s quirky lead guitar part sparkling with the shiny personality of the song.
Local city rock singer Johnny Glenn opened the show with his unique blend of rock and R&B. Backed by a band that included a trumpet player and a keyboardist, Glenn was able to offer numerous textures within his sound. Horns, piano, organ, and synths kept things colorful, often blaring, and always engaging. Often times hefty drums and trumpet and synthesized bass gave his songs a full bodied groove. The sound, and Glen’s smooth, low, mellifluous vocal, impressed throughout his set, especially during his songs “Lied To,” “In His Letter,” and “In The Future.”
Charlie Farren performed one of his originals, “Hold Me Down And Love Me,” pouring his heart and soul into it. His thick guitar sound and 1980s style vocal expression made it a brisk, fun number. The audience soon got a heaping spoonful of blues. James Montgomery, supported by The Stumps of Massachusetts, offered up tasty renditions of “Messin’ with The Kid,” “Killing Floor,” and the Johnny Winter arrangement of “Highway 61.” Montgomery’s smooth as Jack vocal and his roaring harmonica line blew people’s minds. Often times, in his brief set, his harmonica phrases would cut through the air with their sharp, precise lines.
Local rising pop vocalist Simone Cardoso sang to only backing tracks, including a prominent synthesized backbeat. With bouncy music and true stage presence, Cardoso showcased her girlish vocals and their distinct, one of a kind timbre. Another rising pop artist, Nicole Michelle, came out to sing her catchy melodic pop songs, complete with backing band and two dancing girls. Her tune “Frozen” featured a cool synth drone within a driving, infectious number. She likely won over the older audience members with her cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a song that let her powerful voice show how it can continue to build up in force.
At one point, host Jeff Timmons sang a country flavored tune with his old friend Louie Bello, a showcase of their vocal gymnastics stunning the audience into silence. Their voices were things of beauty, crisscrossing each other to create many high points in their tune.
It was a good evening to showcase the variety of talent we have here in greater-Boston inside an old, classy venue in the heart of the Hub.