When drummer Rich Marshall called out to “All you hamburgers and cheeseburgers” it was quoting the late Little Joe Cook of “Peanuts” fame, the legendary r & b singer who ruled at the Cantab. On Saturday, April 29 three members of Little Joe’s band, bassist Lee Lunday, guitarist Candy Delgado and Marshall with Daemian Allen on keys, Steve Tajian on saxophone and Susan Jeffrey on vocals rocked the packed room called on of the best “dive bars” in America. Taking Gnarls Barkley’s classic “Crazy” and putting a woman’s voice on it works effectively, this veteran blues and rhythm band with a pulsating presence that had the twenty-something audience captivated for the entire evening. It’s what separates the Cantab from other nightclubs, a college crowd that wants its bluesy pop, found on a Cambridge sidewalk that the city named Little Joe Cook Square. Members of the band host an open mic on Sunday nights, but Classic Groove only performs once a month. Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” was rocking, while “I Love the Nightlife,” the 1978 Alicia Bridges hit, evolved from its disco roots to smart dance r & b. When that concluded a set the band decided to give the audience the instrumental encore of “Unchained Melody” with the leader of this Waltham based group, Steven Charles Tashjian, front and center with the saxophone playing the vocal melody. Their set list is stunning, from Motown to Grand Funk and the Doors, and one wonders if the flock of young club goers are aware of the heritage the players from Little Joe’s band bring to the party. Like having Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding or Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie band on a Saturday night bringing the sounds that endure from the power and the glory of the Little Joe Cook days. (Joe Viglione)
SICK JOKE at Club Bohemia, Saturday, April 30, 2017
You couldn’t have a more diverse night than Classic Groove playing R & B upstairs, walking down to the dungeon that is Club Bohemia while an Aretha Franklin cover is playing, opening the door to that heavy metal thunder John Kay warned you about in “Born to be Wild.” No, it wasn’t a cover of Steppenwolf that greeted you, it was the combined mayhem of constantly on the floor twisted lead vocalist Aaron Sickniss with the sledgehammer dual guitars of Bill Cunningham and Jeremiah Morelock. I’m not kidding when I say sledgehammer because the blitzkrieg assault on the senses is described by singer Sickniss as “punk rock.” Punk attitude, absolutely, punk rock? Definitely not. Bassist Ralph Moore (replacing Tommy Peterson in the band) pounds ‘em down (with the bottles on his bass amp the beer as well as the basslines, it seems…amazing that those bottles didn’t fall off at that volume) while drummer Mike Mahoney looks like he just left Z.Z.Top in an angry rage over playing their formulaic rock and decided to descend into the depths as well, wailing away on a set list that included a couple of new tunes along with their old classic. “Kill the Sun,” “Spins,” “Self Destruct,” “Rope Swing,” “Lab Rats” (about human beings,) “Anti-D,” “Disgrace,” “Apathy” and “Sleaping” were the songs in the entire set.
One thing’s for sure, you can’t find more diversity between two shows in one upstairs/downstairs venue on a Saturday night anywhere else in Cambridge.
Aaron Sickniss said during one of his talkative chats in-between bludgeoning the audience “We’re all from bands in the 90s” (paraphrasing him, see the video on YouTube of the show if you want a direct quote,) that he’s been up since 3 AM the previous night, that he is “Viagra incarnate” or something, and that when he gets you for four hours, well…do the quick math…Loud, hard, heavy and just want the derelicts in the audience wanted. Good stuff. (Joe Viglione)
Sick Joke LIVE at the Cantab Lounge Saturday April 29, 2017
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.