Gary Santarella and Roger Kimball are veterans of the New England area music scene, and on Saturday, May 21 they brought their five piece ensemble to the Village Tavern in Slame, where they usually perform as a duo every Saturday from 4 – 7 pm. Playing their dizzying array of covers – Santarella goes from the Rolling Stones to Neil Young/America and beyond. He embraces everything Beatles (both Lennon and McCartney, as schoolmate Brad Delp of the group Boston did for so many years) and James Taylor – which – if you close your eyes – sounds exactly like James Taylor.
The five piece Ditto band, which is what they are called as opposed to the Ditto duo or duo of Ditto, had the place rocking, and the focus was on the new CD, Unconditional Love. “Don’t Kick Me When I’m Down,” perhaps the best known of Gary Santarella’s originals having received lots of 50,000 watt airplay in 1986 and heard by many a record executive, to “Rocky” – an irresistible song about a beloved doggy, where the album’s title was drawn from, to “Daddy-O” and what is shaping up to be a regional hit, “Punta Cana.”
“Punta Cana” has all the elements. Think the vibraphone and joy from Elton John’s “Island Girl” with the fun of “Margaritaville,” but without Jimmy Buffett’s intentional frivolity. “Punta Cana” is serious, melodic, and the audience responded to it. Great party which they will hopefully replicate in the Boston area, the group mostly touring on the north shore and the Cape Ann area these days.
“Simple Things” from Raphaelle has all the elements, grand production and a voice full of emotion wrapped in an appealing tonality. In the same style as Elton John’s “Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” – perhaps a sequel to Elton’s classic, the gorgeous video is a nice backdrop to the sterling production and presentation And she even has Elton’s drummer from the A Single Man album, Grammy-winner from McCartney and Wings, Steve Holley
No More Pillow Talk
A four minute and twenty-nice second black and white video with a dual storyline, Raphaelle narrating while a break-up with her lover is playing out behind her – the invisible wall that goes up when talk is cheap and the thought of communication is over. An update of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” from decades ago. Where King was matter-of-fact about how she once “loved you” (probably written about her ex husband and ex songwriting partner, the late Gerry Goffin,) Raphaelle is far more determined for it all to end here.
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Burt Bacharach A Life in Song
When Burt Bacharach performed with Dionne Warwick on the Boston Common in 1987 it was a thing of beauty. Though Whitney Houston had three sold out nights that same summer, and brought the house down, even though Houston was under the weather, it was the Bachrach/Warwick pairing which hit it out of the park. 29 years is not too long to wait (just ask Sly Stone fans!) for the master to have this exquisite release on Eagle Vision.
To know the power of Bacharach, listen to the bonus tracks which are not the familiar material which permeates this beautiful recording. Even that unknown to you sounds magnificent…those three bonus tracks include:“Be Aware” – Josie James, “Waiting For Charlie” – Donna Taylor and “God Give Me Strength” – John Pagano.
On it Burt tells the host/interviewer, Michael Grade, that he met Elvis Presley once; the closest I came to Burt Bacharach is that he phoned my hotel room at the Cheateau Marmont sometime in 1989 looking for Jimmy Miller, producer of the Rolling Stones, Blind Faith and so many others. Darn we could have had drinks with him! A Life In Song appears on PBS stations every once in a while, but it is one of those keepers that you need to have on your shelf, even to keep on in the background without viewing…the audio every bit as good as the video.
“The Look of Love” is in the “movie medley” – one of the all-time greats recently a focus of our radio show where along with Dusty Springfield’s multiple takes we aired renditions from other artists. This medley features Bacharach himself singing the classic – it’s an elegant and unique addition to the collection, the backing vocals sublime in this all around first rate show. Hearing others taking on the magic memories is very special, a compelling remake for the theme to the original Arthur motion picture, case in point: just lovely. “What’s New Pussycat” is more restrained than the explosive Tom Jones hit version, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” also subdued from B.J. Thomas’ ability to make a middle-of-the-road song sound rock and roll. Ditto (see first paragraph) for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” which Gene Pitney had so wonderfully over-the-top in its original form. “Making Love” belongs to Roberta Flack, but it comes to life again here in another dimension, and does so just fine. It is these new perspectives which are the refreshing key here, and keep the Bacharach legend rolling on.
The press sheet notes: featuring performances by Joss Stone, Justin Hayward, Alfie Boe, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Shaun Escoffery, Rebecca Ferguson, Michael Kiwanuka, and Laura Mvula. Filmed at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2015, A Life In Song presents on-stage conversations between Burt Bacharach and Michael Grade traversing different aspects of his years in music, interspersed with performances of many of his best loved songs by a diverse cast of artists. The evening culminates in a medley of some of Bacharach’s most famous film songs performed by the man himself and his band, and a performance of “That’s What Friends Are For” featuring the entire evening’s cast.
Check out Boston area band Mokita –
Mokita features Andrew Harris on guitar and vocals, Chris Harris on guitar/vocals, Daniel Jurgens on bass, vocals and Nick Wilder on drums. The bright, sunshine pop of “Don’t Take Me For Dead” is simple but exuberating in rock and roll joy. The second tune, “Roommates,” is a cute, romantic invite to living together that jams out and then blends nicely into David Bowie’s music and some words from “Heroes” – which David took liberally from Lou Reed’s “Waiting for the Man.” Mokita’s music & lyrics are written by Andrew and Chris Harris
Recorded at Goldie Studios in Salem, NH and in Daniel’s bedroom in Boston, MA – recorded and mixed by Jacob Peters and Daniel Juergens. Released February 25, 2016 Find more at
Every Wednesday you can hear all sorts of music, including the music in this column, on the Joe Vig Pop Explosion 1-3 pm on Boston Free Radio dot com.
Hear the show at this link: http://tinyurl.com/jvpopmay25
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.