MP3 The Providers - Roots & Blues
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13 MP3 Songs in this album (52:56) !
Related styles: Rock: American Trad Rock, Rock: Jam-band, Featuring Guitar
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The Providers spent eight years defiantly promoting an agenda of original material while making their way through the covers-heavy Connecticut bar circuit. They may have started out playing straight-up blues and rock ânâ roll, but over the years they wound up embracing rockabilly, old-school R&B, country, funk, and even a little reggae and folk into their songcraft. In the course of a three-hour set, audiences couldnât help but get caught up in everything the band threw down.
By the time the band returned to Lost River Studios in Wingdale, NY to record the follow-up to the 2000 release âOpen For Business,â bassist Jayson Baker and drummer Don Fudge formed the new rhythm section, and keyboard ace Chuck Chesler was along for the ride as well. Founding members Keith Bartow, Terry OâGrady and Guy Tino were so enthused about this line-up that they went for broke, drawing from as wide a range of material as possible from their catalog. With producer/engineer Mel Paskellâs sympathetic ear once again on hand to guide things along, the sextet laid down 23 basic tracks over just a few days in May 2001, then spent the rest of the year finding a unique balance between the undeniable energy of its live shows and the array of sonic textures available in the studio. Intended for release in 2002, âRoots & Bluesâ was shelved when the band split up just a few months after the final mixdown was completed. With the advent of the digital album era, fans can finally enjoy the bandâs best record.
Jayson came up with the title âRoots & Blues,â and in many ways itâs the perfect name for this effort, not only describing the nature of the songs themselves but also reflecting their place in the journey of the band. Of the 13 tracks making the cut, âHey There,â âGrowinâ Nowhere,â âStruck By Lightning,â âSpoken Forâ and âMary Bethâ date back to the early â90s when Keith and Guy played out as acoustic duo Automatic Slim, while âBorrowed Bluesâ and âTravelinâ Businessman Bluesâ are representatives from Teeâs days fronting local act Staggered. Longtime staples of Providers gigs, a few of these tracks have evolved since their creation â âStruck By Lightning,â originally a shuffle, appears here as overdriven reggae, with woozy horns and odd percussive accents accentuating the narratorâs romantic paranoia; âGrowinâ Nowhereâ and âMary Beth,â on the other hand, are made over from catchy pop/rock to pure country twang, and in the process their storylines become more heartrending. As far as the newer songs go, âBarefoot Bulletâ and âSwivelâ bookend the album with choice slices of bass-heavy conga-driven funk, the slippery blues âWashboard Roadâ choogles along on acoustic slide guitars and a driving beat, and the rootsy trio of âBroken Song,â âMidnight Crusoeâ and âDownsized Gesturesâ shows the band just as capable at exploring its more contemplative side as its bruising and rowdy one.
Keith and Tee are at their best throughout, switching genres with ease and delivering tasty riffs and stinging leads in equal measure. Guy alternates from blue-eyed soul croon to bluesmanâs growl to Stax/Volt-era soul shout, though heâs proudest of what he calls his âSarah McLachlan momentâ stacking the choral harmonies on âBroken Song.â Jaysonâs fluid basslines, Donâs rhythmic snap and Chuckâs masterful B3 and piano playing bring the arrangements to a full boil, and the contributions of the special guests â percussionist Brian Melick of Celtic bluegrass band The McKrells, pedal steel guitarist extraordinaire John Widgren, and the New Haven brass section known as The East Brown Street Horns â add the finishing touches which take the project past the previous high-water mark of âOpen For Businessâ to someplace more expansive both musically and emotionally.
Just as they hoped to be everything to everyone when playing out, leaving it all on the stage when they were finished, âRoots & Bluesâ leaves no doubt The Providers could do anything they set their minds to accomplish.
ââBroken Songâ makes my top 50 favorite songs of all time by anybody.â â Lucky Fokker, FokkerRadio.com
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