Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Eric Gleason and Amy Modesti
In the past several months, the Troy Dinosaur BBQ has been building a solid reputation for booking free live music gigs each weekend, and a Saturday night gig by Matt Mirabile with special guest Alison Jacobs may rank as the best one yet.
In the past decade, Mirabile has established himself as one of the finest guitarists in the area, and on this night he was playing at an exceptional level, playing with passion, imagination and vision. His band – Steve Aldi (bass), Joshua Bloomfield (drums) and Jason Ladayne (keys) – followed his muse and brought their own blues verve, too. Add to the mix the dynamic Alison Jacobs, the best local female singer as Metroland duly noted a few years ago, and it was obvious that something extraordinary would transpire.
Lately, Jacobs has not been playing out as much as she or her loyal fans would like, but she sure brought a hungry blues swagger to the stage last weekend, suggesting she may be back in the spotlight more often in 2013. Slim Harpo’s “Te Ni Nee Ni Nu” and Jimmy Reed’s “Natural Born Lover” owed a bit to Lou Ann Barton’s 1989 renditions, but each was an ideal showcase for Jacobs’s sassy vocals, which gave way to the explosive solos by Ladayne and Mirabile. Jacobs’ original “So Many Men,” a funky ode to hunks in several fields of work, had women of all ages hooting their approval. Walter Trout’s slow burner “Gotten Over You” was a fine ballad for Jacobs, and Mirabile worried the heck out of some high notes during a string-bending interlude.
An epic take on the instrumental “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was the arguably the highlight of the first set; each musician brought his best hand to the table, and nobody wanted to fold; the conversations between the guitar and keys, and then the bass and drums, in particular, left the crowd enthralled. Jacobs’s take on Earl King’s 1950s classic “Come On, Pt. I” (which later appeared on Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland) should become a regular part of her repertoire; she brought sensuality and joy to each lyrical turn-around and chorus.
The second set was short but no less satisfying. Iconic singer Tommy Love set down his beverage and bounded to the stage for a rousing romp through Free’s “All Right Now,” a fine showcase for the band but especially the commanding bass lines of Aldi. Seeing Love share a microphone is rare, but with Jacobs on her tip toes they traded verses on an uptempo, smiles-all-around rendition of “Dead Flowers” by the Rolling Stones. Jacobs’ deep blues roots closed out the night with nods to Koko Taylor (“Voodoo Woman” and “I’m a Woman”) and the Fabulous Thunderbirds (“I Believe I’m in Love with You”).
Let’s hope these talented musicians get back together real soon; the blues is alive and well whenever they are playing, and an upstate crowd is dancing.
MATT MIRABILE WITH ALISON JACOBS SET LIST
Te Ni Nee Ni Nu (Slim Harpo)
Natural Born Lover (Jimmy Reed)
So Many Men (Alison Jacobs)
Gotten Over You (Walter Trout)
Honky Tonk Women (Jagger and Richards)
Treat Her Right (Roy Head)
All Fired Up (Alison Jacobs and Graham Tichy)
Boogie at Midnight/ Hide and Seek (Roy Brown/ Big Joe Turner)
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Joe Zawinul)
I Smell a Rat (Big Mama Thornton)
Come On, Pt. I (Earl King)
Doin’ the Sugar Too (Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson)
All Right Now (Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers)
Dead Flowers (Jagger and Richards)
Voodoo Woman (Koko Taylor)
I Believe I’m in Love with You (The Fabulous Thunderbirds)
I’m a Woman (Koko Taylor)