Professor Louie and The Crowmatix – Strike Up The Band
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © March 2022
It’s pretty much five years ago to the day that I reviewed Crowin’ The Blues by Professor Louie and The Crowmatix, and before I tell you about their latest and sixteenth release – Strike Up The Band, I’d like to say a little something about them personally. A few years back, at a Blind Raccoon Showcase during IBC week in Memphis, I had the pleasure of working with The Professor and Miss Marie, and I’ve got to tell you that they were some of the nicest and most down to earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of not only working with, but meeting as well. On top of that, although I’m sure there were a few, I’d have to think long and hard about the last time I read a bio as impressive as the Professor’s. As always, the last paragraph of this review will contain a link to the band’s website, and if you’re an old hippie like me – and the Professor and Miss Marie as well – when you read it you’ll most likely have a few flashbacks as you read some of the artists Louie’s played with, engineered and produced.
On Strike Up The Band, The Crowmatix consist of: Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz on vocals, keyboards, Hammond organ and accordion; Marie “Miss Marie” Spinosa on vocals, piano, percussion and whistling; Gary Burke on drums and horn arrangements; Frank Campbell on bass and backing vocals; and John Platania acoustic & electric guitars and backing vocals. Additionally, three of the tracks include the Woodstock Horns who are: Jim Buckley on baritone & alto sax and flute & alto flute; Danny Coyle on trumpet and flugelhorn; Chuck Smith on trombone; Tony Aiello on soprano & tenor sax and flute; and horn section leader and coordinator, Nick Driscoll.
Of the disc’s ten insightful and realistic tracks; eight are penned by The Professor and Miss Marie; another is by them and band mate John Platania; and one is a cover.
One day, but hopefully not for a long time, all of us will get to take a ride on the “Golden Eagle”. You see, the Golden Eagle is a train that leaves daily and because it only makes one stop, I guess you could say it’s an express – it goes directly to heaven. Unlike that train, the music goes many places: some of Danny’s trumpet leads, Marie’s percussion and John’s acoustic guitar took me to a Mexican cantina that featured Flamenco dancers; Along with Louie’s accordion, the rest of the horns took me to N’awlins during Mardi Gras; and, of course, that chugging along train vibe created by the rhythm from Gary and Frank, along with more of Marie’s implements of percussion, took me for the ride. Speaking of Miss Marie, for the people on this ride it had to be a bit more pleasant with her as their tour guide.
The second I heard the first few words of this track – it’s “Good To Be Grateful” – the first thought that came to my mind was how great a place the world would be if everyone had a reason to say them. Of course, that’s kind of what The Professor, Miss Marie and John Platania had in mind when they wrote this upbeat, uplifting sing-a-long type song. Musical highlights include: fabulous vocal and harmony vocals by all; hard driving rhythm; excellent piano; and as you’d expect on a guitarist collaborated song – lots of wonderful guitar riffs.
This song made me think of those pictures of Christ that, more often than not, show a bright ray of sunshine – that I always thought represented hope – shining down through the clouds, right onto the Lord’s face. The song is called “Flaming Ray” and it is indeed about a similar ray of light – one that will hopefully shine down on all of our faces. The band, highlighted by fabulous keyboards and horns, has the hymn thing in place and I could easily hear Louie and Marie – who obviously have that ray of light shining all over them – singing this one at a mass of any denomination.
This rocker is called “Livin’ In This Country” and with these relatable lyrics, it sounds like – along with some of us – Miss Marie longs for the good old days:
“Too many cracks in the sidewalks – tryin’ to trip me up
Too many signs of destruction – I guess I had enough
Everybody hidin’ in their home – nobody left to say hello
Neighborhoods have all been closed……….
Not goin’ back to Brooklyn – A big old lonely world
My family home bought & sold – tearin’ up this Brooklyn girl
Friends left many years ago – nobody there to say hello
too many stories left untold……….
Down at Three Jolly Pigeons – drinkin’ all alone
Nobody wants to rock’n’roll – Everybody’s on their phone
Memories hangin’ on the wall – All my friends and days of old
Everybody’s up & gone – What’s goin’ on……….
But on the other hand, in spite of all that, she still feels that:
“Livin’ in this Country – Where I wanna be
Livin’ in this Country – USA the greatest place for me.
I’m with her there.
The story line on “Tick Tock” is about a man wanting to buy more time in order to prove his love to a woman. That said, I’m sure these particular lyrics could easily be changed to fit so many other scenarios in which more time would be welcomed. As far as guitar work goes, with his killer lead and slide guitar licks, I’m calling this some of John’s best work.
Other tracks on ‘Strike Up The Band’ include: “A Thousand Ways To Freedom”; “Work It Out”; “Fall Back On Me”; “Chain Shot Cannonball’; and “End Of The Show”.
To find out more about Professor Louie and The Crowmatix, just go to their website – www.professorlouie.com. Remember, wherever you go and whoever you contact, please let them know The Blewzzman sent you!