“Stompin’ On The Front Porch”
Center Block Records
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2021
“Stompin’ On The Front Porch” is a very impressive debut release by the Boston based Rosedale Junction. The album contains thirteen tracks of what the band calls “traditional American born and raised blues, country, R&B, and good old fashioned rock ‘n’; roll”. Of those tracks, ten are originals penned by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Toby Soriero.
Those making the music with Toby – on guitar, bass, uke bass, resonator, banjo, drums, piano, percussion, handclaps and background vocals – are: Joel Jorgenson, Rachel Gavaletz, and Dgiovahni Denizevahni on vocals; Tyra Juliet on vocals and background vocals; Taylor Marshall on background vocals; John Lee Sanders on vocals and keyboards; Roger Smith on keyboards; Jim Reily on drums; Vito Gutilla on violin; Trent Williamson on harmonica; and Toby’s sons Matt Soriero on tenor & alto sax and handclaps; and Joe Soriero on guitar.
Between John Lee Sanders’ gritty and emotional lead vocals and Tyra Julliet’s choir sounding background vocals, the discs opening track, “Prison Yard Blues” is strongly reminiscent of the field hollers commonly associated with chain gangs. Lyrically, it’s a fantasizing plea from an inmate to his loved one on the outside, in which she helps him over the wall and drives him in her Cadillac to the ball. Musically it’s traditional blues with a deep roots feel that features a strong rhythm by Toby and Jim Riley on the bass and drums: and smoking blues licks from Toby and Trent Williamson on the guitar and harmonica. Great way to kick things off.
Now I can’t say for sure that “Brass City Blues” has anything to do with Waterbury, CT – the city that’s known as Brass City, but what I can say for sure is that the track is six minutes of hard drivin’ boogie blues at it’s best. With them coming from a different vocalist, gritty vocals seem to be a common denominator. This time it’s Dgiovahni Denize detailing some of Brass City’s most famous characteristics: guns, shootings, murders, drugs, booze, cop chases, and other such things commonly heard about on most cities evening news these days. In addition to Jim possibly being at disc’s best on the drums, the track features an intense toe to toe slug fest between Toby on guitar and Roger Smith on the Hammond organ. Killer track!
Yes, history does have a way of repeating itself. This track tells the tale of a freak snowstorm that pretty much crippled the southeast portion of the United States, but it’s not about the storm of 2021, its about “The Blizzard Of ’73”. This is one of those occasions where nothing I say can be nearly as good as using the songwriter’s description of the track. As Toby says, it’s “A little bit country, a little bit bluegrass, and a whole lotta foot tappin’ western swing”. Sounding like he’s calling a square dance, John’s back at the helm on vocals; Toby’s playing some of everything he could find in the whole guitar section of the music shop; Jim, who I’m recommending for a raise, is doing his usual craziness on the drums; and Vito Gutilla, who’s tearing it up all track long on the violin, closes out the track with an ear opening, smile inducing thirty second solo.
Although there are several instruments involved, this one is basically a duo. It’s down home Delta blues that features Joel Jorgensen sorrowfully lamenting about his woman running off with the “Bourbon Man” and Toby – amongst other things – laying down a masterful acoustic slide guitar performance.
So when I think Led Zeppelin the last thing that comes to my mind is an emotional blues ballad being belted out by female vocalists – and yet, that’s what I’m hearing on this Page/Plant/Berns penned track. The song is called “Baby Come On Home” and it’s one of Zep’s obscure tracks that has never been covered. That said, anyone wanting to cover it going forward had better give this rendition a listen first. Being slow blues it’s got all the necessary musical components – a relaxed and tight rhythm groove (Toby and Jim), the heartbeat of the Hammond (John) and the hot blues guitar leads (Toby) but it’s the ladies that make it magical. Rachel Gavaletz, with her angelic voice and awe inspiring range on lead vocals, and Tyra Julliet, again with that choir sounding voice on background vocals, are indeed a heavenly sounding pair.
Being pretty much one of my favorite blues songs of all time, I’ve often said that I’ve not often heard a bad version of the song. That said, having just heard Rachel’s fabulous voice for the very first time, I went into this song already knowing this would be a killer version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” and yes, I nailed the prediction. Rachel, WOW! Then there were the guys. Since a powerful song like this needs powerful musical accompaniments, Toby, Roger, and Jim were all over that guitar, organ, and drums. For sure one of the disc’s best tracks.
Simply because it features Tyra singing lead vocals on a duet with Joel, I knew this cover of Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” needed mention. It’s a soulful R&B ballad with a bit of a Gospel feel that tells of the sorrow that comes from the loss of one’s grandmother.. .something most of us have had to experience.
Other songs on “Stompin’ On The Front Porch”, which combine for over seventy minutes of great music and vocals, include: “Walk Me Home Tonight”; “Chasing The Devil Blues”; “Bourbon Man (Alternate Take)”; “The Ballad Of Letherman French”; “The Ballad Of Letherman French (Outtake)”; and “Song For Life” (Rodney Crowell).
To find out more about Rosedale Junction just go to the bands website – www.rosedalejunction.com. Additionally, the release can be found at all major online music platforms. Remember, 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