Brandon Santini and his quartet don't take the stage, they crash through the wall as soon as the lights go down, boppin', jumpin', and whirling like dervishes, doubly amped up and hot to trot. Live & Extended is aptly named on both counts: it's a capture of a concert gig up in Canadaland and features a number of stretched-out comps. What I'm saying is that, from the git-go, these cats command attention. Santini sings with a basso boomy voice that reminds me a lot of Omar Kent Dykes, and the guy also plays a fierce harp ya can't ignore for a microsecond. He and his harmonica have a habit of pulling the audience members up out of their seats and then around by the ears, feet following, stompin' with a backbeat. The crowd's WAY into the gig here 'n they dig guitarist Timo Arthur as much as Big Brandon (well, the cat do have a touch, y'know!). More, the recording (Philippe Matte) itself catches a 360-degree dimensionality and puts you right in the front row.
When Santini and Arthur fall in together, it's an organic kinda thang that settles bouncing into your gut, with Nick Hearn (bass) and Chad Wirl (drums) keeping the planks and joists firmly in place so that the earth may shake and the sky may wail but nothing slips away. Santini gets his first blow-ya-away harp solos in Elevate Me Mama, the third cut, after you've been well prepared by the intro numbers. His style employs a gravid bottom end that, once you catch on to it, is patterned after his singing style and then trips out well beyond.
More than once, I was reminded of the glory days of Fleetwood Mac, the Blue Horizon era, not particularly because Santini & Co. adopt the style of St. Green and compeers but because they have that kind of energy, especially when ya hark back to the Mac's Boston Tea Party recordings—yep, even with the 50s element (as Have a Good Time demonstrates, Chuck Berry riffs and all). More, they're willing to toss the style from stem to stern while completely respectful to sources, a groove within a groove within a style. These guys have a big future ahead of them, and it won't surprise me if I soon catch 'em in a feature film or TV drama, as the wild-ass music element in a pulse-pounding set of episodics.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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