The Players: Sam Chase, guitar, vocals; Greg
Settino, drums; Tim Paul Weiner, bass; Ed
Ricco, lead guitar.
Material: The eponymous Sam Chase Band
offer a staid helping of adult contemporary
musings for wistful 30-somethings, their saving
grace being a palpable soulfulness. Inspired
by artists like James Taylor, Allman Brothers
and Willie Nelson, the silky smooth quartet
playfully draw from their idols’ legendary idioms,
plundering folk, Southern rock and a dash of
C&W to positive effect.
Musicianship: The group’s greatest strength
is their shining competency. While Chase is
effective on guitar, his true abilities lay with
his classic, soft-rock voice and considerable
songwriting skills. Lead guitarist Ed Ricco, who
makes his debut performance, blends stunningly
with his deep, blues-inflected riffs that place a
premium on feeling over flashy nonsense. The
rumble of Tim Weiner’s bass is soul-cleansing,
as is Greg Settino’s simple, effective drums,
which he often graces with the soft swish of
brushes. Every note meshes magically like the
threads of a magnificent tapestry.
Sam Chase Band: Adult contemporary musings for wistful 30-somethings.
Performance: For the first of two sets, the
band played for an hour. Launching straight
into a slew of originals, Chase introduced each
song. Besides spotlighting his backing brothersin-arms,
the troubadour didn’t relate much to
the audience and the crowd reciprocated. The
music, nonetheless, was spit-polished, including
their most country-tinged tune, “Nebraska.”
Things ended with an exceptional version of
Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
Summary: Chase and company are serious
musicians that seem primed for adult contemporary
radio. Unfortunately, they lack a
special twist that will aid them in breaking out
of the coffeehouse circuit. More stylistic variety
will help keep each song from blending with the
next. As his band’s leader, Chase needs to better
engage his audience in order to prevent his facile
yet mature, poppy hooks from becoming mere
audio wallpaper in a crowded cafe.
The House of Blues
Contact: Arif Hodzic, firstname.lastname@example.org,
The Players: Arif Hodzic, guitar, vocals;
DeHaven Carrington, drums, vocals; Kelley Hill,
Material: Olio's music is a neatly packaged
combination of pop, funk, rock and hip-hop with
a fun attitude. The sound hits closely to Living
Colour and Red Hot Chili Peppers, showing a
good deal of harmonic sophistication while keeping
the hooks simple and shiny. Both melody
and rhythmic verse are covered nicely between
two distinctly different lead singers: drummer
DeHaven Carrington, and guitarist Arif Hodzic.
The vocal melodies and harmonies prove
inspiration from icons like the Beatles in “Bring
Baby Home.” Overall, the material is “feel-good”
pop music that breeds pure positivity.
Musicianship: All three members help to earn
the distinction of “power trio” by creating a full
and powerful sound. Melodic funk music requires
every instrument to be a lead at some point, and
each member is fully capable of doing so when
the time is right. Guitarist-vocalist Arif Hodzic
is polished and precise on both instruments,
showing a great deal of experience and skill.
The bass playing of Kelley Hill is locked in when
it needs to be and impressively melodic when
set free. Drummer-vocalist Carrington brings
out some Rick James in “Idi IT Girl” but can be
Olio: Fun, feel-good power-trio providing sophisticated melodies and pop sensibility.
difficult to understand in songs when he carries
the lead. While it’s tempting to blame the sound
engineer for the lack of clarity, Carrington can
likely improve matters with better diction and pitch
control. His drums, however, beg comparisons
to the likes of John Blackwell (Prince) and Will
Calhoun (Living Colour).
Performance: Olio brought a great deal of
energy and showmanship to the large, exciting
House of Blues stage. Hodzic and Hill used the
large space well, moving around with ease and
comfort. Hill was particularly impressive with his
ability to dance while rocking the kinetic bass
lines, and all three members looked very much in
their element on stage. It was clear that Olio have
had experience with large stages and they were
able to work a packed crowd. Although audience
communication was quality, the quantity of
breaks in between songs seemed to affect the
“flow” a bit. A little conversation would go a long
Summary: Olio is a fun, “feel-good” power-trio
that provides both sophisticated melody and pop
sensibility. The music keeps the people moving
and musicianship is unmistakable. For those who
like to dance and enjoy melodic pop music, Olio
fits the bill.
––Tim Reid, Jr.
TIM REID, JR.
GET YOUR ACT REVIEWED: See musicconnection.com/amp/reviews.php. Please DO NOT mail a package; we no longer accept them.
52 February 2012 www.musicconnection.com
Moon Romantic Aoyama
Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan
The Players: Duncan Walsh, lead vocals, guitar;
Selwyn Walsh, lead guitar, backup vocals;
Ashley Davies, bass; Stefan Samuelsson, keys;
Tadashi Yoshikawa, drums.
Material: The Watanabes play obsessively unobtrusive
indie rock, but with skills and hooks
that make you want to listen closer. Many of their
compositions cast a mood similar to that of Neil
Finn and Crowded House, or the gentle side of
John Lennon, while their lyrics focus on the poetic
side of everyday domestic scenes, à la Death Cab
for Cutie. Slow tracks come across as the folky
equivalent of shoegazer; deeply introspective
without being depressive. Standouts include
their upbeat country-rocker "Ice Age," the deep
and dark "Whales Can Sing" and the anthemic
Musicianship: Duncan delivers exceptionally
consistent vocals with a storytelling style as he
presents the framework of each song with his
acoustic guitar. Selwyn complements his brother
Duncan's contributions with deft Stratocaster
licks and befitting backup vocals. Ashley Davies
provides a competent low end on his jazz bass,
while Stefan Samuelsson beefs up the mix
with ambient keys. Drummer Tadashi executes
his duties professionally as well, although he
sometimes plays a bit ahead of the band, as if he
cares more for his own playing than the material
he is supporting.
The Boxing Lesson
The Players: Paul Waclawsky: vocals, guitars,
triwave; Jaylinn Davidson, synth, vocals; Matt
Material: Deep Moog space rock succinctly describes
the organic, evolving, original sounds of
the Boxing Lesson. Epic synth vs. indie tunes
take the listener on a morphing psychedelic
journey across alien soundscapes, guided by
upbeat guitar riffs and driving, minimal drums.
Waclawsky’s vocals swim in reverb and new
wave overtones, reminiscent of Dave Gahan’s
hazy industrial crooning. Davidson’s backing
vocals are sparse, merely adding punch to
choruses. Bongirno seems content to keep
complications to a minimum, laying solid and
simple grooves. Waclawsky’s trance-inducing
lead lines, often echoed or joined in unison by
the Moog, and dream-pop vocals are the main
course. The selection “Muerta” seems directly
derived from Radiohead’s “Exit Music,” while
“Better Daze” could be a Pink-Floyd-meets-the-
Musicianship: The Boxing Lesson features deliberately
misty, obscured changes and lyrics;
therefore, exact and accurate musicianship is not
required. However, the band does not allow for
sloppy solos or missed notes. Instead, the group
slides through the songs, reshaping timing and
The Watanabes: Skills and hooks that make you want to listen closer.
Performance: Their drummer and keyboardist,
in particular, spent most of the show facing their
instruments. This may have suited the mood of
the music, or cheated the band of a broader appeal.
The set list was peppered with a few wellselected
guest stars who enhanced the flow of
the show. The band scored extra points for not
being distracted by recurrent technical difficulties.
Before launching into "Ice Age," bassist Davies
informed the audience that they would be filming
the next song for a music video. While being filmed,
the band displayed more stage presence than
they had before, but the change was appropriate
given that this song was the liveliest of their set.
Being enthusiastically cheered on to an encore,
the band delivered the fan-pleasing "Katsudon,"
and closed it with a tight ending, garnished with
a bit of faked sloppiness while smiling at the
audience before the lights went out.
Summary: The Watanabes are well suited
to Japanese audiences, especially given the
unobtrusive nature of their music, and the introspective
tendency of their lyrics. The main
question is, "Does the lack of movement on the
behalf of some of their members serve the mood
of their songs, or would they achieve even greater
success if their passion were conveyed more
The Boxing Lesson: Organic, evolving, original sounds that can only be described as deep Moog space rock.
pitch to fit the theme of each selection. Davidson
is focused, yet she uses simple melodic lines
due to the nature of the Moog’s watery sound.
Waclawsky’s vocals occasionally slip pitch, and
Davidson also misses the mark slightly on the first
notes of her harmonies, but most occurrences
of off-pitch vocals are masked by the washes
of thick ambient effects and heavy reverb and
chorus layered over everything.
Performance: While Bongirno imitated his drum
lines and faded into the background, Davidson
and Waclawsky put on a show. The synth rocked
back and forth as Davidson stepped and tapped
in time to the beat, her hair swinging and her
occasional vocals fervent. If listeners hadn’t already
been in a shoegazing, swaying trance,
Waclawsky’s animated performance gave them
an eyeful. Impassioned facial expressions and
emotional thrashings marked his theatrics as he
poured energy and enthusiasm into the crowd.
Summary: The Boxing Lesson will transport
listeners into another world with original psychrock
ambience. If you aren’t high when they start
playing, you’ll feel like it when they’re done.
SARAH WHITED EIKO
February 2012 www.musicconnection.com 53
Jennifer Westwood Band
The Players: Jennifer Westwood, lead vocals;
Tommy Furbacher, guitar, backup vocals; John
Ronchetto, guitar; Jeff Whittle, bass, backup vocals;
Ken Kudsin, drums; special guest Dylan
Dunbar, backup vocals, acoustic guitar.
Material: The first 45 minutes of this band's set
are originals penned by Westwood herself. With
modern rock and country elements that flow
through the music, “Dishwater Blonde” kicks off
the night and seems to have a Tanya Tucker
or Reba McIntyre meets Melissa Etheridge
grittiness. “Good Life” follows and extols the
virtues of staying true to your roots set to a bluesy
southern rock beat. Other tunes like “Natural
Disaster” hit you with a wall of sound, blending
a pseudo-metallic crunch with memorable hooks
and a superb chorus. Westwood also reaches
further into her musical trick bag for a duet
segment with acoustic finger style guitarist-vocalist
Dylan Dunbar on inspired tunes from Dolly
Parton, the Allman Brothers and Bill Withers.
Musicianship: Westwood is an incendiary and
dynamic lead singer. She proves to be an above
average tunesmith as well. The band interprets
the material and brings it to life, with a balanced
but somewhat heavy guitar approach. Furbacher
and Ronchetto trade solos well and never get
in each other’s way. They both employ tasteful
textures and some slide techniques where
appropriate. Whittle and Kudsin have a palpable
Los Angeles, CA
Jennifer Westwood Band: An incendiary and dynamic lead singer backed by a solid band.
kinship as a rhythm section, adding some funky
flair from time to time.
Performance: Although the vivacious blonde had
her name on the marquee, this was a collective
band in every sense of the word. They each interacted
and played like a fine timepiece in kind to
Westwood’s every move. There was nothing overtly
flashy or over the top. But the music was solid
and drenched with copious amounts of sweat,
soul, precision and a sublime pop sensibility.
Summary: The Jennifer Westwood Band have
a classic sound in the way they package their
music and unleash that energy on the audience.
Westwood has a great look, maintains a strong
rapport with the crowd and can belt it out with the
best of them. There is a no nonsense earnestness
to their approach and, assuredly, this group
have monster potential in a variety of venues and
––Eric A. Harabadian
ERIC A. HARABADIAN
The Players: Josh Tripp, vocals; Brent J. Miller,
guitar; Dan Bartlett, bass; Brian “Bam Bam”
Material: This act takes no prisoners in its sonic
assault. Indeed, WarDog is one badass band.
Hard edge and hard driving, the music is so
ruthless it rattles neurons. Combining rock, metal,
blues and funk, these guys get off on a diabolical
display of raging testosterone. Reminiscent of
the dark, sinister style forged by Alice in Chains,
WarDog’s material has a visceral quality that’s
hard to shake. The songs drench listeners in a
profound gloom so deep and troubled it could
cause Pollyanna to swallow razor blades.
Musicianship: In fact, that intensity seems to
feed these players. The harder it gets, the harder
they play. The rhythm section of Barlett and
Jones packs a powerful punch, strong enough
to make shot glasses tremble. Tripp’s vocals,
swirling with angst and dripping in bile, make the
audience visibly shutter. However, what truly sets
this act apart is Miller’s guitar work. His lead-riffs
are so snarly and nasty he makes Slash sound
like a choirboy. This is a band that plays the way
rock bands used to play… when they had some
Performance: This was one of those performances
that teetered on the edge. Raw and
WarDog: Creating a sense of danger so palpable it permeates the air.
unpolished, it seemed a step away from imploding.
That aspect, though, gave the show a
unique characteristic not often seen in bands
today—a sense of danger so palpable it permeated
the air. Struck by its uncompromising
volatility, the audience appeared shell-shocked
and sat stone still, almost as if they were glued
to their seats.
Summary: WarDog bring something old but
new to the present rock scene: a savage sense
of danger that’s been missing for a while. It’s
been ages since an act projected such a threat.
Their music won’t elicit smiles or make you hum
on the way home, and their show may result in
post-traumatic stress syndrome. But that doesn’t
really matter. Love them or hate them, you won’t
forget them. You just have to experience WarDog
at your own peril.
54 February 2012 www.musicconnection.com
The Pig N’ Whistle
The Players: Todd Taylor, guitar vocals; Vince
LaBauve, guitar, vocals.
Material: This duo is a throwback to the days when
real songwriters, rather than pop producers, ruled
the charts. Listening to Dead Horses conjures up
memories of Neil Young, the Band, Van Morrison
and even Bob Dylan when they were at the top
of their game. It’s heady stuff, for sure, but this is
the kind of material that wears well, especially in
a music scene that could use a little substance.
Moreover, this act has accomplished a slick trick:
the songs sound current and commercial, even
though they harbor a retro reverence, much like
the Black Keys.
Musicianship: These guys are pro all the way.
Watching them play is like attending a workshop
given by a couple virtuosos. Taylor is so smooth
and laidback he makes everything look easy.
His voice can be gruff or sweet, depending on
the song, and his emotional connection with the
material is breath taking. LaBauve, meanwhile, is
simply a monster player, who exhibits proficiency
with a slew of styles from blues to jazz to rock.
He’s logged time with superstars like Barry White
and the Chamber Brothers, among others, and it
Performance: If you're a fellow musician, these
two cats will slay you. In fact, there were musicians
in the audience and they were spell-bound by
New York, NY
The Players: Julio, bass, keys; Deb,
vocals, guitar; Mario, guitar; Manny,
Material: Their roots are Latin, but this quartet
play alternative rock. With half of this act born
and raised in Ecuador and the other half from
the N.Y.C. Metropolitan area, finding one another
seemed like destiny. A '90s sensibility permeates
the band’s music, mixing with their own brand of
“Lonely Man” begins with a compelling guitar
riff serving as the central motif for the song. In
“Our Days,” the arpeggiated solo guitar intro
immediately invokes a reverent mood and offers
vocalist Deb a chance to sing in the clear before
the band kicks in. The song continues to build
compositionally well to a harmonically surprising
and memorable chorus showcasing strong marketing
There are many highlights in their material,
some of which could be tightened up lyrically. The
band also performs a song in Spanish, which is a
nice nod to their heritage.
Musicianship: There is no doubt that the members
of Revolving One have music in their soul.
Deb’s voice has a warm and smooth tone which
at times is reminiscent of Madonna’s in timbre.
Mario plays a sweet guitar with some tasty licks
and Julio and Manny keep the groove on solid
Dead Horses: A virtuosic duo who perform commercial tunes with a retro reverence.
the performance. This gig was stripped down to
its essence; the songs were the focal point. That
worked out well in this venue, a small singersongwriter
room with an intimate feel that provided
a great connection with the audience. But, a few
songs cried out for additional instrumentation.
A full band would have added another level of
pleasure, and given the performance even more
Revolving One: Latin roots and melodic angst mixed with a '90s sensibility.
Performance: Enthusiasm and band connectivity
are cornerstones of a good performance and this
band had no shortage of either. They projected
an endearing and familial feeling which was
understandable since Deb and Mario are brother
and sister. Julio and Manny seemed like a natural
extension of the family. Julio established the
pace and mood of the set; chatty and engaging
but at times a bit over solicitous of the audience’s
approval. Overall, it was uplifting to see a band
fully enjoying their moment on stage.
Wth perfunctory sound checks becoming
the norm for many New York City clubs (as
bands change every hour on the hour), it leaves
Summary: Dead Horses would be the perfect
support act for the Black Keys. Their material,
a form of retro-influenced alt rock, is solid in a
contemporary way, while their musicianship is
without peer. That’s a great combination for any
act. But this duo also brings something else—an
authenticity that makes them the real deal.
little room for fine tuning. This caused some
pitch challenges for Deb (erring on the sharper
side), which were technical in nature and easily
remedied if she could hear herself better.
Summary: Revolving One are a hard working
and high spirited band with innate musicality.
Their tireless appetite for gigging will give them
the experience and perspective they need to
further polish their act. Attention to sound balance
will also help better focus the show. They have
recently completed their EP, Love or Another
Kind of Hunger, which is currently getting some
independent airplay. ––Ellen Woloshin
MARK SHIWOLICH BERNARD BAUR
February 2012 www.musicconnection.com 55