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ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...11/26/15
By Danny Coleman
originally published: 11/26/2015
"This is a classic situation," says well respected Trenton area jazz guitarist Dick Gratton; "Where a bunch of old bastards have said, hey, lets put the band back together," stated with a laugh nearly as big as his impeccable reputation and exceeded only by his stellar ability.
Gratton and his two former band mates, bassist Paul Austin and drummer Rich Gerster comprise the "Dick Gratton Trio" and are reuniting for the first time in 27 years on December 3 at Alchemist & Barrister in Princeton, NJ for a night of some of the smoothest jazz ever performed.
Gratton, who got his start playing guitar at the tender age of seven and started performing his first "Area gigs" in New Hope, PA more than five decades ago; has garnered the adoration and respect of many musicians, fans and club owners on both sides of the Delaware River as well as all along the east coast. "One of the first shows I ever played was with a woman named Eve Shore at Havana around 1970; she was (local jazz great) Dick Braytenbah's wife. A short time later I stopped to see him perform and I was asked to sit in on a few numbers. I was unaware that a fella named Vic Dodine was there at the time. A few days later, I got a call from my mother and she said, "Did you know that you're in the paper?" Dodine did a nice write up in the Trentonian and shortly thereafter I was asked by the manager of that club to see him. He told me that Braytenbah wanted to talk with me and when I spoke with him he asked me to join his unit; I got lucky there."
Gratton may think it was luck but to the musicians who have been fortunate to perform along side him and those who recall the glory days of the Trenton area music scene in the 1970's and 80's; Gratton is consistently mentioned among those who've set the standard to which others aspire. "Trenton used to have a happening scene and all various types of musicians and bands could gig every weekend and during the week," he said as he reflected on the past. "Do you remember the Greenwood Grill? A bunch of us jazz guys used to get together there and just play; we used to get some really nice players come through there. We had a good thing going, so much so that we caught the attention of some New York City guys and people like Joe Henderson and a few others began coming down from the city and joining in. I put my group together in the mid to late 80's and went from there but we came in at the tail end of the good music scene we used to have around Trenton. Gosh back in the 70's and even the 80's "The Burg" (a section of Trenton called Chambersburg) had clubs everywhere but drunk driving laws started to toughen up and people seemed to stop going to see live music and the clubs began disappearing; besides Trenton wasn't exactly the jazz capital of the east coast to begin with (laughs)."
That was then and this is now; so why put the trio back together especially since the face of the Trenton area has changed so dramatically? Gone are the clubs that catered to music, gone are the patrons with them; what was it that nearly 30 years later has prompted the urge to put it all back together? "It was kind of an accident," explained a chuckling Gratton. "Well, it's like this, I stopped into Alchemist & Barrister just to say hello; I used to play there years ago and I've always kept in touch. The manager mentioned jazz night but that they were only interested in having trios; so I thought about it a bit and said, what the heck. There aren't many people who can play with me because I do some real off the wall stuff and not many people can read me or follow along; Paul Austin is one of those people. So, I reached out and contacted him and he said he'd, "Not played a note in 27 years." Apparently after we stopped performing together all of those years ago he just stopped playing as well. I convinced him to start up again and contacted Rich Gerster who is a great drummer and who also has that knack for being able to follow me; a couple of rehearsals at my place and it all came right together. It is really something how it all comes back and I am really looking forward to this gig."
Gratton, who claims that one career highlight was performing at the 1998 "Trenton Jazz Festival" says that there's a little something for every jazz enthusiast in the 2015 edition of his popular trio. "Playing the Trenton Jazz Fest was a good one, a highlight, a big one for me; I feel it was the last true jazz festival that Trenton has put on. Now there are other types of bands that have become part of the event and they're not all jazz; or what is considered strictly jazz but; who am I to say? I know this, that when you come see us we'll be doing some standards from the 1930's and 40's, some Be-Bop, some more contemporary things and we have a really sweet, smooth arrangement of the Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends," this should be a fun night."
This sly veteran and the master of his Guild guitar would not commit the trio beyond this gig; he did say however, that all options are open and mentions how he's enjoying himself and very happy to be a viable part of the area's thin music market. "Who knows? We might be back; if we do well and if things work out musically and if I get us gigs (laughs). Hey, I'm happy to be playing and meeting new musicians and I love performing with the area players. I do some stuff with Frank Clayton and Rusty DiPasquale; we actually trade off and do each others tunes. These guys are rock musicians but they've adapted quite well to my style and I enjoy working with them immensely. The thing is, as long as it's fun I'll keep trying to do it."
The trio will be setting up shop inside Alchemist & Barrister's 28 Witherspoon Street location on December 3 at 10 p.m. To gather more information about this show or to discover more about Dick Gratton; please go to http://thejazzman.tripod.com/gigs.html
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!
THIS WEEKS CALENDAR LISTINGS Alchemist & Barrister
28 Witherspoon Street Princeton
Sun. 9 p.m. Kenny Cunningham
All shows 21+Amarones Windsor Inn
29 Church St. Windsor
Fri. 8 p.m. Larry D
Sat. 8 p.m. After Dark Blend Bar & Bistro
911 Highway 33, Hamilton
Tues. 8 p.m. Open Mic Hosted by Shaun Ruymen The Backstage at Championship Bar
931 Chambers St. Trenton
Fri. 7 p.m. Fastride, (TBA). All ages, $10
Sat. 5 p.m. Backyard Superheroes, JT Turret, Fun While You Wait, Creating Clementine, Nerd Surge, Behind Deadlines. All ages, $10 Candlelight Lounge
24 Passaic St. Trenton
Sat. 3 p.m. Daryl Yokley Tenor Sax Quartet (No cover-$10 minimum) Chickie's & Pete's
183 US Highway 130 North Bordentown
Tues. 8 p.m. Acoustic Music Night feat. The Dawgs
Wed. 9 p.m. Trivia Night Dog & Bull Brew House
810 Bristol Pike (Rte. 13) Croydon, PA.
Fri. (4 p.m.) "Happy Hour Jam" feat. Keli Vale Jazz Duo (9 p.m.) Paul Donavan
Sat. (11 a.m.) "Saturday Brunch Jam" feat. Michael Leggerie (9 p.m.) Vic's Mix
Sun. (11 a.m.) "Sunday Brunch" feat. Dick Gratton (3 p.m.)Wizard Duo Fran's Pub
116 S. Main St. New Hope, PA.
Mon. 8 p.m. Open Blues Jam
All shows 21+ Glory Days Tavern
1200 Hornberger Avenue Roebling
Sat. 8 p.m. Brandon Franks
Fri. 9 p.m. DJ Geek Boy
Sat. (5 p.m.) "Cruise For St. Jude Charity Event" feat. (7 p.m.) Gyrl Band Havana New Hope
105 S. Main Street. New Hope, Pa.
Fri. 9:30 p.m."Beat The Clock" College Night DJ Dance Party
Sat. (1 p.m.) Sip & Shop (8:30 p.m.) The Loop
Sun. 3 p.m. Ladies 2000
Mon. 8 p.m. Mike Dillon Band. Doors at 6 p.m., $10 (general admission)
Tues. 7 p.m. "Taste of Artistry's Paint & Sip"
Wed. 8 p.m. Pat Foran & Friends Hopewell Valley Vineyards
46 Yard Avenue Pennington
Fri. 6 p.m. Hopewell Valley Vineyard Jazz Ensemble
Sat. 6 p.m. John & Carm
Sun. 2 p.m. "Sunday Jazz" feat. Keith Franklin Ivy Tavern
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Fri. 10 p.m. Gunsmoke
Sat. 10 p.m. Blind Lemmon Pie
All shows 21+ John & Peter's
96 S. Main Street New Hope, Pa.
Thurs. 9 p.m. Dean Ween Group
Fri. 9 p.m. The Mayflys / The Rips
Sat. (3 p.m.) Jason Trzaska & Friends (9 p.m.) Ammunition
Sun. (3 p.m.) Miss Pumpkin's Drag Show Benefit for Lifeties (9 p.m.) Collin J Rocker
Mon. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night
Tues. 9 p.m. Bill & Fred's Excellent Adventure
Wed. 9:30 p.m. The Invitational
All shows 21+ JoJo's Tavern
2677 Nottingham Way Hamilton
Sat. 10 p.m. Radio Fiction
Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke Laurita Winery
85 Archertown Road New Egypt
Sun. 1 p.m. Deb & Mike McStews Irish Sports Pub
5316 New Falls Rd Levittown, PA
Fri. 10 p.m. Schwubby Buzzer
Sat. 10 p.m. "Saturday Night Party" feat. multiple DJs
All shows 21+ Millhill Basement
300 S. Broad Street Trenton
Check web site for upcoming events O'Connor's American Bar & Grille
1383 Monmouth Road Easthampton
Tues. 8 p.m. Trivia Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Rd. Hamilton
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
All shows 21+ Pete's Steak House
523 Whitehorse Ave. Hamilton
Fri. 9:30 p.m. 80's Undercover Randy Now's Man Cave
134 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
Please check web site for upcoming events RHO Waterfront
50 Riverview Plaza Trenton
Fri. (4 p.m.) Happy Hour Buffet. $10 (8:30 p.m.) Grace Little Band
Sat. 10 p.m. Anthony Walker Presents: "Ladies Night!" feat. DJs William H & WesWill. w/ a guest appearance by model Donny Savage. Dress code required, Age 23+ (ladies), 25+ (men), $20 (advance), $30 VIPTavern On The Lake
101 Main St. Hightstown
Fri. 9 p.m. El Ka Bong
Sat. 9 p.m. Pretty Baby
Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke Night The HOB Tavern
146 Second Street
Sat. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night The Ivy Inn
248 Nassau St. Princeton
Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzo w/ Bob E Luv
Wed. 10 p.m. "Wednesday Wheel Night Spin To Win Karaoke" w/ DJ Rockn Ron The Record Collector
358 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
Fri. 8 p.m. Frank Viele (LP Release Party) / Aurical. All ages, doors at 7:30 p.m., $12 (advance).
Sat. 8 p.m. Soraia (LP Release Party) / Midnight Mosaic. All ages, doors at 7:30 p.m., $12 (advance) The Sticky Wicket
2465 South Broad St. Hamilton
Fri. 9 p.m. New Dawn The Sun National Bank Center
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
Check website for upcoming events Tir Na Nog
1324 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
Sat. 9 p.m. Ziggy Isaacs
All shows 21+ Trenton Buzz
702 Pine St. Trenton
Thurs. 8 p.m. Open Mic. w/ Hek Cat Trenton Social
449 South Broad Street Trenton
Fri. 7 p.m. First Friday
Mon. 9 p.m. Monday Night Karaoke w/ Benny P
Tues. 7 p.m. Open Mic. Night Triumph Brewing Company
(New Hope, Pa. Location)
400 Union Square New Hope, Pa.
Fri. 10 p.m. Alycat. ($5 cover charge)
Sat. 10 p.m. Frank Viele Quartet. ($5 cover charge)
Sun. 7 p.m. Open Jam Night (Sign-ups at 6:30 p.m.)
All shows 21+ Wildflowers Inn
2572 Pennington Rd. Pennington
Sat. 9 p.m. Acoustic Rock
All shows 21+
Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7:000pm EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.
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