Gaslight Street, James Justin & Co.
The Pour House
With special guests and positive vibes galore, Gaslight Street threw a badass party at the Pour House on Friday night to celebrate their new release, Idle Speed. Frontman/songwriter Campbell Brown was the emotional center of the whole affair, leading a fantastic supporting cast.
James Justin & Co. opened up with piano-driven melodies like “Turn This Thing Around” and “Take Me Back to Good Old Days.”
Early in Gaslight Street’s set, singer Elise Testone provided soft “oooohs” while Reid Stone (of Guilt Ridden Troubadour) lent harmonica and vocals to the title track from the band’s first album, Blue Skies for Fools. Brown guided them through material off the new record, too. After new songs “The River” and “Fast and Slow,” he ditched his acoustic, strapped on a red Gibson, and never looked back, turning the energy level up several notches.
The hard rocking “98 Blues” gave the crowd a jolt that sparked the rest of the show. Brown and the band showed off their unique combination of country-tinged rock, blues, jazz, funk, and soul.
Whitt Algar could rightly be called a virtuoso on the organ. He and Brown’s musical give-and-take was perfectly orchestrated. The constant, driving rhythm from drummer Jack Friel and bassist Frank Nelson gave the set a heartbeat and a purpose, pushing itself in new directions. The level of skill displayed by Algar, Brown, and keyboardist Howard Dlugasch was astounding.
Burke, Stone, and Testone stormed the stage for an ensemble version of Idle Speed’s best track, “Vicksburg,” handling the harmonies that Cary Ann Hearst provided on the record. After double guitar solos from Burke and Brown, the bandleader broke into a big smile. He had what looked like an “a-ha!” moment, pausing for a second to appreciate what he had brought together. A reflective pride popped spontaneously onto the shy singer’s face.
From the very start of the second set, the back left corner of the stage was the spot to watch, as the Rusty Trombones provided a kick-ass horn showcase. Trumpeter Kevin Hackler and saxophonist Eric Mullins joined trombonist Steve Spaulding, who’d played on pieces in the first set, to complete the now 10-person group.
Algar was especially cool to watch, his hands floating effortlessly over the keys of the organ.
Before the big band moved through “Idle Speed” and “Years Left Behind” off the new album, Brown made his sole announcement, asking the appreciative crowd, “Have I told y’all how lovely an audience y’all are tonight?”
At the end of night, Brown brought his friends back for a lengthy version of the hardest-rocking new song on Idle Speed, “Black as Coal.” With exhausted smiles all around, they brought the last jam to an end and looked about as content as musicians can look.