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CD REVIEW: U.S. Rails (4 Stars)
By Gary Wien
U.S. Rails is the new name for the former Philadelphia-based band 4 Way Street. Long-time fans will not be disappointed in the direction of the band as the debut by U.S. Rails may be even stronger than the lone record released by 4 Way Street. The "supergroup" of sorts continues to include Ben Arnold, Scott Bricklin, Joseph Parsons, and Matt Muir and now adds Tom Gilliam to replace Jim Boggia. The pairing brings together a mix of great songwriters who all have very distinct vocal styles that compliment each other. The end result is a largely brilliant followup record that is sure to please long-time fans and make many new ones.
As with 4 Way Street, the sum is once again greater than its parts. U.S. Rails is an amazing group that clearly conjures up memories of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young through their wonderful harmonies and acoustic guitars. Band members once again rotate lead singer duties throughout the record and occasionally all take part as in the great opening tune, "Lucky Stars."
"Does anybody know how lucky we are?
Just bangin' on drums, strummin' our guitars
Just tryin' to have fun in some dark and dusty bar
In the morning, when I wake up
I thank my lucky stars"
-- Lucky Stars
The record steers a bit more towards country-rock than its pop-rock based predecessor. Songs like "Gonna Shine", "Good Times", "Burning Fire", and "Man Down" are closest to those found on the 4 Way Street record; while tunes like "Simple Plan" and "Shine The Light" have an almost ‘70s classic rock kind of feel.
Overall, it's an extremely strong disc that I recommend highly. In fact, it's probably one of my two or three favorite records of the year and a staple on my car stereo. If you were a fan of 4 Way Street, go ahead and pick up a copy, you won't be let down. If you've never heard of the former band, but are a fan of artists like CSN&Y or the Indigo Girls, you'll dig this too.
I think one of the reasons CSN&Y succeeded where others have failed is because their songs didn't sound forced; they sounded as if they were meant to be recorded that way -- the harmonies weren't a gimmick, but an integral part of the equation. The same thing is happening here. U.S. Rails is a bunch of long-time friends who realized one day that they could all add to each other's tunes and take them to a higher place. There's no denying that the band enjoys playing music together and is having fun. When that sort of thing happens, it's an amazing experience.
"These are the good times,
We drink to remember, we drink to forget
Yeah, the good times
And we ain't seen the best of them yet"
-- Good Times
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State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
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Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018
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