Peter Veteska & Blues Train
Blue Heart Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © October 2023
Since 2023 marks their tenth year together, I’d like to start off by wishing Peter Veteska & Blues Train a very “Happy Silver Anniversary”. I’d also like to congratulate them on the accomplishment of a feat not that often achieved, with Full Tilt being their seventh release in eight years.
Looking back at my reviews of the band’s last three releases, other than the songs, not a lot has changed. Peter seems to have quite the stable full of talented musicians he regularly turns to, and if you’re familiar with some of the band’s past work, you’re about to read some very recognizable names. For Full Tilt, the nucleus of the band, which is: Peter Veteska on vocals and guitar; Alex D’Agnese on drums; and Coo Moe Jhee on bass; are joined by; Jeff Levine – who I jokingly refer to as the fourth member of the trio, on Hammond B3 and piano; Jen Barnes on vocals; Mikey Jr. on vocals and harmonica; Chuck Hearne and Rick Prince on bass; Mike Scott on saxophone; and Tony Perruso on trumpet. Of the disc’s twelve tracks, eight are originals.
The disc opens with one of Peter’s originals titled “Go Find Another Man”. This smoker doesn’t need more than the thirty second instrumental intro to feature the whole band. Right out of the gate, Peter slips into a scorching guitar run that pretty much never relents; seconds later Jeff, Coo Moe and Alex release a similarly relentless rhythm on the B3, bass and drums respectively; and as all that comes together, Mikey Jr. jumps in on harp and like just about every time that happens, all hell breaks loose. With this line: “If you don’t like what you hear, go find another man. If you don’t like what you see, go find another man. You don’t have to tolerate it, or try to understand”; the song sends a clear message. However, with it not being clear who it’s being sent to, Peter’s leaving it all to interpretation.
As I listed the credits earlier in this review, I said something about recognizing some of the names. One that I immediately recognized – and happily so – was Jen Barnes. In one of my previous reviews of a Blues Train release, when I said, “This woman can sing!”, “I Wasn’t Wrong” – which, BTW – also happens to be the title of this original track. With a fierce and funky rhythm – highlighted by crazy good B3 (Jeff) leads; mind blowing harmonica blowing (Mikey); and dazzling guitar leads (Peter); all going on behind her, Jen takes her powerhouse vocals, sassy singing style and flawless range and just runs with this one.
That “Sad And Blue” organ lead in by Jeff, leaves absolutely no doubt that this original is going to be a good ol’, straight up, slow blues number. Then, with the rhythm section in an easygoing groove behind him, Peter emotionally emits the melancholic lyrics so common to these slow blues burners along with just the right accompanying slow blues guitar licks, and there you have it – slow blues bliss. Since I needed at least fifteen more minutes of this, I replayed it five times.
Staying with the originals, this one is titled “2:00 In The Morning”. It’s a rocker that features Peter and Jen taking turns belting out their disappointment as another lonely night works itself into the wee hours of tomorrow. Before you know it, it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and their search for romance remains fruitless. Musically, as the title comes into play, the band is totally at full tilt.
Although you’ll find this song mostly associated with Bessie Smith, it wasn’t until 1929 – six years after it was written by James Cox, that she recorded it. It’s called “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)” and on this duet, Peter – with a masterful vocal performance, and Jeff – with fabulously beautiful piano playing, are doing a classic rendition of the classic.
On another of his own songs, “Slow Down You Crazy Fool”, Peter doesn’t at all follow his own advice. Being one of the more traditional blues songs of the lot, the song features some of his best guitar work and his most powerful vocal presentations. Real good stuff!
“Man About Town” is a scorching instrumental of Peter’s that features Peter, Jeff and Mike passing around fiery leads on the guitar, organ and sax while Alex and Coo Moe are pounding out the fiercest of rhythms behind them.
Other tracks on Full Tilt – an album Peter describes as being “recorded live with minimal overdubs, so that a finely tuned studio album could be produced without sacrificing the vitality and spontaneity of our live performances” – include: “I Get Evil” (Albert King); “One After 909” (Lennon & McCartney); “Merry Christmas Baby” (Johnny Moore); and two other originals titled “Pack Of Lies” and “Take Back What You Own”.
To find out more about Peter Veteska & Blues Train, just go to – www.peterveteskabluestrain.com. Remember, wherever you go and whoever you contact, please let them know The Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient