On October 23, 2001 we lost Rusty Kershaw, part of the country/blue grass music duo Rusty & Doug, Doug being Rusty’s brother, Doug Kershaw. Well the Squeezebox Stompers out of Winthrop, Massachusetts pick up where the Kershaw brothers left off with a new CD, ecologically friendly, and beautifully packaged with a four panel fold out chock full of vital information about the group and very pleasant on the eyes.
Opening track “Let the Music Take You Away” was inspired by a fortune inside a cookie “the Universe without music would be madness.” Its a three-minute and twenty-three second opus wonderfully recorded at Wellspring Sound in Acton with Eric Kilburn engineering. Kilburn, who also sings in a gospel group, plays mandolin and sings a backing vocal on Track 4, “El Dia De Los Muertos.” The group is Mardi Gras heavy, proclaiming on the CD package that “Even in stain New England, every day is Mardi Gras with the Sqeezebox Stompers” – a quote from WUMB radio from a music fest 91.9 Fm had in 2011.
The music is dramatically different from track to track, “Midnight on the Bayou” a slow blues contrasts with “Zydeco Train” – the CD’s final track, which has lots of flavoring from Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” as envisioned by the Rolling Stones on Exile on Main Street. “I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good” is a happy-go-lucky (if you will) four and a half minute hop a long stomp while “Nothin’ But the Blues” brushes 5 minutes of a chant that Duke & The Drivers would love to get their hands on.
The dozen compositions from Ralph Tufo, who also sings some lead vocals, grand piano and Cajun accordion, all crawl through the bayou but show different flavors and colors, reflected in the CD case when you lift the disc out and see the mellow pastels within.
“Caribe Zydeco,” developed from when Tufo was in the legendary Boogaloo Swamis into the new incarnation here, has flavorings of Donovan Leitch’s “There Is a Mountain” and an amazing blend of instruments. The production (not the melody) is as creative as Stephen Stills “Love The One You’re With” (not in Stills genre at all, just the overlay of the instruments and how they are combined.) It features other vocalist Larry Plitt on the back-ups, Paul Tagliamonte on bass and lots of tangible charm.
Mike Migliozzio keeps his eclectic drum/percussive sounds down for the Marty Robbins-ish “I Won’t Give Up On You.” Ray Price could have done a nice job with this tune as well if we hadn’t lost him in December of 2013 (we lost Robbins back in 1982.) A tad different from his work on Caribe Zydeco and the wonderfully jubilant and buoyant “Crawfish Two-Step
Erinn Brown brings her vocal talents to track 7, “What Do You Want From Me,” which is a blues rock number that also shows the diversity within Squeezebox Stompers. Other musicians on the album include Steve Maggs on rub-board, Diane Cline on Fiddle, Geoff Wadsworth on saxophone, harmonica and tin whistle, adding to the fun atmosphere and good time feel. Sincere in its reverence for the musical stylings, Roots and Branches is a solid outing that will beg repeated spins.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.