Peter Veteska & Blues Train
“Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side”
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © November 2020
Earlier in the year, Peter Veteska took the Peter V Blues Train into the shop for a tune-up and overhaul. After a minor name adjustment and a few major moving parts being replaced, the 2020 model of Peter Veteska & Blues Train is ready to roll.
The only original band member staying onboard with bandleader, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Peter Veteska is his longtime friend and band mate, drummer Alex D’Agnese. Rounding things out is bassist, Coo Mo Jee. For its first trip out of the station, the Blues Train will have several special guests on board: Jeff Levine on B3 and piano; Mikey Junior on vocals and harmonica; Jen Barnes on vocals; Roger Girke on guitar; and Chuck Hearne on bass. Of the ten tracks on “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side”, Peter’s fifth release, six are his originals.
No Need for a Whistle
There’s absolutely no need for a train whistle when you’ve got Mikey Junior blowin’ harp, and immediately out of the gate he makes his presence known with a killer opening run that sets up the smoker titled “Am I Wrong Pretty Baby”. Additionally – with what I’m already assuming is going to be an all disc long situation: Alex and Coo Mo are laying down an immense rhythm; Peter’s belting out some real deal blues both vocally and on his guitar; and as Mikey did at the opening, Jeff closes out the last ninety seconds of the track with monster B3 highlights. A most impressive opening track.
I don’t think the bar could be set any higher than where Dinah Washington and Brook Benton placed it back in 1960 when they recorded “Baby You’ve Got What It Takes” (C. Otis/M. Stein). That said, Jen Barnes (a force of her own on the NJ music scene) and Peter Veteska more than have what it takes to handle the saucy banter and do this classic justice. Musically – Jeff (organ), Alex (drums) and this time Chuck on the bass and Peter did take this rendition to a whole other level.
One of the goals Peter Veteska set out to achieve with this release was to ease away from some of the jazz/funk/blues blends and settle into a more purer blues vibe. Helping that happen is a laid back, down home, foot tapping acoustic number called “I’ve Been Missing You”. With the rhythm guys laying back in a lazy groove (the first and only time you’ll hear me say that), the precision pickin’ Peter’s doing on the acoustic guitar; the soft tickling Jeff is doing to the ivories; and the easy-going way in which Mikey’s blowin’ his harp (another thing you’ll rarely hear); this one came perfectly together.
“You Give Me Loving” is a smoking shuffle featuring everyone in total jam mode. Between it’s opening and mid song extended musical runs, the track kind of takes on the feel of an instrumental. With the rhythm guys doing their usual blazing thing, during both of those runs Peter lays down several wicked blues guitar leads and Jeff validates that part of his resume where he lists Joe Cocker, Hall & Oates, Clarence Clemmons and the Chamber Brothers as former employees with several amazing organ leads. Easily one of the disc’s best.
Crooning the Blues
Hmmmmm, is Peter Veteska hoping to see his name up in lights on Atlantic City Casino Marquees like Frank Sinatra did on those in Vegas? Whether that happens or not, I was very impressed with his crooning on this rendition of Old Blue Eyes’ “Learning the Blues” (D. Silvers). Loving Sinatra and loving these fifties style blues songs made loving this one quite easy. Kudos, Pete.
Sticking with songs from the fifties, next up is an updated version of “Heartbreaker” (A. Ertegun), a song that Ray Charles had a hit with back in the day. For this track, Peter brought in another good friend from the area to spar with. That said, hearing him and Roger Girke going toe to toe on the vocals and trading barbs on guitar licks was indeed a listening pleasure.
Other tracks on “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side” include: “Running Like A Dog”; “Thinking And Drinking”; “You Don’t Love Me” (W. Cobbs); and the rockin’ title track “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side”.
To find out more about Peter Veteska & Blues Train just go to their website – www.peterveteskabluestrain.com. Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient
Peter Veteska & Blues Train