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Rock research pays off for ColeTrain

A live review of ColeTrain at the Village Tavern

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ColeTrain
Sun. June 28
Village Tavern

Fronted by 16 year-old singer-guitarist Sarah Cole (the local blues collectives like to refer to her as "Stone Cold" Sarah Cole), Charleston rock quartet ColeTrain (all of them teenagers) burned through two sets of deeply soulful classic rock — new and old —at the Village Tavern over the weekend. Lead guitarist Nate Merli traded licks with Cole on several tracks, but she stepped out as lead singer (sans Fender Strat) on more songs than usual. Merli's dense guitar tone and wah-wah effects sounded killer during his rhythm work and solos.

Cole introduced a new song titled "Bicycle Man," which aimed for the guitar-funk of Sly & The Family Stone. Gig highlights included a workout on Cream's version of "Crossroads," a dynamic mash-up of Zeppelin's "How Many More Times" and Dazed and Confused" (on which drummer Tanner Cooper, playing his "scaled-down" Bonham-esque kit, exploded with a few authentically Bonham-esque fills and bass drum ruffs), and a reworking of Hendrix's "Axis Bold as Love," which veered into reggae territory (see audio sample).

ColeTrain may be young and green, but there's a lot of rock and blues history within their evolving sound. There's plenty of Clapton/Page/Hendrix going on, bit one might detect a bit of the spiky, Louisiana-style of Earl King, or the dense, Texas-style riffery of ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. While some transitions are still a little clunky (or mildly stiff and sloppy?), ColeTrain keeps tightening up with every gig. Some of their most exciting rock moments lift the audience to the roof. Read more about the group in this week's music feature here.

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