Mimi Nowak of the Mimi Nowak Project is small, tough as nails, and does not suffer fools gladly.
She's never one to mince words. “We try to do things a little bit differently—we aren't a standard 12 bar blues band.” Which may be true, but the sound of the Mimi Nowak Project is solidly rooted uptown---where jazz, funk, and blues intersect and mingle to form a blend all their own. From a jazzy take on “Ain't No Sunshine” to a bouncy, delicious, “Sweet Spot”, the band is one worth coming to see.
Bassman Joey Van Winkle lays down one liquid, elastic, punchy bassline after another—his bass may as well be strung with thick rubber bands, and guitar player Steve Sadowski brings the funk on “Married to The Blues” and “Prisoner of Love”.
Bob Stasiak rolls the keys, with a vintage style sound—having hung out with him before one short gig, we joked that he could make his rig sound like a “1970s Bar Mitzvah”--the electric piano swirls of the Rhodes and the Wurly were right there and he makes great use of them. This is the kind of band that could rock through “Superstition” without a blink, horns and all.
But Superstition would be a bit pedestrian for this crew; they were probably playing it as teenagers. This is a blues band that errs on the side of jazzy rhythm and blues and soul—Eartha Kitt, Koko Taylor--Mimi Nowak has a voice as smooth as a Sazerac cocktail with the same sting.
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A band without a drummer is like a car without an engine, and Paul Levinsky lets the drums do the talking. Mimi gave him a couple of solos during a short set at the Colts Neck Inn in Colts Neck and he had the crowd hooting and hollering for more—not a pounding, power drummer like Bonham nor a “math rocker” in the vein of Neil Peart but with a technical sound and his own kind of rhythmic force.
Between the five of them, they draw from a sonic palette reminiscent of Little Feat or Albert King--7th chords and jazzy 9ths and minor 9ths abound, along with Mr. Sadowski's fiery solos, played, interestingly enough, on a Taylor solidbody electric with mini-humbuckers—a bit of a rare bird for a bit of an exotic player. Sadowski plays with a muscle that brings back Stevie Ray Vaughan, or the late, almost-forgotten Albert Collins. He drives the guitar like a rider drives a horse or a motorcycle, just pounding and powering through each note.
Their next set is opening for the legendary Coco Montoya at Mexicali Live on March 16th (1409 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck NJ 07666 201-833-0011 for reservations email email@example.com, best to reserve even if you just want a seat at the bar since the place gets packed. Tickets $20, available from Mimi via Facebook or at the door, Mexicali is CASH ONLY). I'll be going to see them there, and you should also.
originally published: 2016-03-07 12:03:34
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