Though they explore tragedy in all its fonts and properties, Rochester’s roots rockers, The Tragedy Brothers, shy away from directly identifying with the sad-sack songwriters and scheisters who scatter glitter and tears on stages wherever they go. And it’s been a seven-year trip for guitarist-vocalist Joe Appleby and bandmates Larry Casey, drums; Dennis McCarthy, bass; Jim Banda, Harmonic; and Josh Gregg, violin.
The band just released its third CD, “Another American Tragedy,” a rugged and ragged piece of Americana with a tragic narrative. OK, yes, there’s some tragedy in there along with the band’s Americana handstamp and adherence to the idiom. They dodge the pigeonhole by wailin’ directly down into its depths. It comes on strong and it comes off mean.
“We’re a bit more deliberate this time,” says Appleby, frontman and de facto leader of the band.
The group loaded in and made the whole record at the studios at Linden Oaks with producer Steve Forney at the wheel.
“I think the first two albums we did were a little more Americana, but we brought out some more rockin’ stuff this time,” Appleby says.
And Fornay pulled it out of them.
“She Sways” is a perfect example of an up-tempo boogie woogie with an extra dusting of boogie on the menu. There’s another spot in particular where the electric banjo alludes to Civil War folk tunes mixed in with Chicago blues. “Lost Beauty” sounds like Brian Wilson dropped a few harmonious pet sounds off at the door.
Overall, the band didn’t dodge tragedy, both literally and musically. You oughta do the same. It would be a tragedy not to.
“Summer In Paradise.”
John Satchell—better known as dobro master Genesee Johnny—has gone a little more electric or at least electric-leaning this time around with his new album, “Summer In Paradise.”
I can’t tell if it’s something he’s always wanted to do and grew into since his last record with the River Rats. But for every rocker in the hopper there’s an impish wink, a sly kink and a nudge like something he’s trying to trick us into, or hypnotize us with. Better look out. Actually this album goes way beyond the slide roots this formidable player has been weaned on.
There’s the militant Dixieland on “National Grid” and the cry of country blues on the beautiful tune “Cheap Old Cars,” which Johnny takes a u-turn on to pause and jerk a few tears. “Late Night TV” totally kills with its riff-happy slash and burn ala The Bottle Rockets. It’s my favorite cut of the 14 on the album. That is, if you can get past “Don’t Let Work Get You Down,” a crushing tune that positively rocks like a bulldozer on a first date. You can feel it in your bones.
Here’s a comprehensive list of live shows in and around Rochester: Get Your Gig On