Scott Sharrard and The Brickyard Band
June Residency at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC
By: Tom Pragliola
When Scott Sharrard is home in NYC during breaks from the Gregg Allman Band touring schedule, he gets together with his band and plays whatever gigs they can fit into his time in NYC. In addition to one of his favorite places, Bar Chord in Brooklyn, the band had played a few dates at Rockwood Music Hall this winter, recording the shows for a live album project. In June, for three consecutive Wednesdays, Scott Sharrard and The Brickyard Band commanded a very often over-crowded stage at this small music showcase venue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each show included special guests, and some astounding music was created. What made this possible was the incredibly talented musicians that Scott has developed relationships with, starting with the Brickyard Band – one of the strongest and most versatile bands out there; drummers Diego Voglino and Moses Patrou, Eric Finland on keyboards, newest member Adam Minkoff on bass and occasional vocals, (replacing long-standing band member Jeff Hanley) and the horn section of Reggie Pittman on trumpet and Kenny Brooks on sax.
Week 1 – 6/01/16:
The show started off like many of the band’s sets, with songs from the band’s eponymously titled CD. “Debt”, “Love Like Kerosene” (well-known in Gregg Allman’s shows}, and “Shadow Blues”. Then followed by “She Can’t Wait” from a previous Scott solo CD, and “Endless Road” from that latest band collection. The first week at Rockwood was promoted as having a special guest, and at this point Scott called out Amy Helm, daughter of Levon Helm. They performed four songs from Amy’s latest CD. The title track “Didn’t It Rain”, “Rescue Me”, “Good News”, and “Same Love That Made Me Laugh”. Amy’s voice is powerful and there was a lot of funky soul in the songs. The band is a natural fit for her and there was an adrenaline-like energy coming from the stage and filling every corner of the club. What followed was a poignant, heartbreaking rendition of “It Makes No Difference”. It seemed like I was hearing the song for the first time, although it’s a familiar song from The Band. Whereas Rick Danko sang it with his wavering, broken down sentiment, this version is a more direct acceptance and admission of dissolution. The lyrics about lost love are quite emotional and there were some audible deep breaths of collective acknowledgment. Next was The Band’s “Don’t Do It”. Although it pleads ‘don’t break my heart’, its high energy suggests that whatever the outcome, the singer is defiantly going to carry on. Amy and the band were doing serious justice to songs of her father’s band. Next up, drummer Moses Patrou was featured singing “Mistreated Your Love”, a song from his CD “Can’t Stop, Vol.1”. Scott then played one his oldies, “Angeline”, and a new song “The High Cost of Loving You”. Amy came back out and the night ended with The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”, which became a crowd sing-along acknowledging the special show - both nostalgic and inspirational.
Week 2 – 6/08/16:
The guest for this week’s show was NYC blues veteran Bill Sims, Jr. Strong hints that another very special guest might make a rare club appearance had the fans there eager with anticipation.
Scott and the band kicked things off with “Brand New Free”, a rocker from Scott’s 2005 solo album ‘Dawnbreaker’, followed by “Rock and A Hard Place”, a barnburner from Scott and The Brickyard Band’s 2012 album. Then came a couple of songs with an old-time rock ‘n roll/ r&b feel, “Sweet Compromise” and “Angeline”. Then, perhaps anticipating the somewhat controlled chaos about to ensue, Scott gets in his requisite Johnny “Guitar” Watson song, this one “Loving You”. And maybe since last week’s show went by without a JGW number, they do an additional one, “Lone Ranger”, this one with Moses Patrou on lead vocal.
Bill Sims Jr. then joined the band for some deep in the alley blues – “Catfish” and “Meet Me In The Morning”, followed by “T-Bone Shuffle” and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”.
Scott then brought up two of his fellow band members from The Gregg Allman Band, Marc Quinones on drumset, and Peter Levin on piano. With the energy level upped a few notches they played “Eight Days On The Road”, a staple in The Brickyard Band’s repertoire.
Then Gregg Allman himself was escorted through the crowd and squeezed onto the crowded stage and strapped on a guitar. Peter Levin started a piano vamp which quickly transformed into the recognizable riff of “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” and the crowd let out an excited cheer. That was the legend himself up there doing one his classics from The Allman Brothers Band. Rockwood Music Hall was filled excitement. Maybe Gregg was a little out of his comfort zone as he decided to exit the stage after the one song. He left to the same ovation that greeted him and everyone seemed to acknowledge what a special treat it was for Gregg to join Scott and the guys at this intimate club.
Bill Sims, Jr. bravely returned to the stage to do the Freddy King classic “Big Legged Woman”. The band seemed to be taking a breather as they dropped into a blues shuffle, but that mutated into “Love Like Kerosene”, bringing the show to a proper incendiary conclusion. A little bit of history was made that night.
Week 3 – 6/15/16:
It would be reasonable for someone to think that there would be a natural letdown after two outstanding, hard to top shows. But Scott doesn’t rest on last week’s laurels. For those not familiar, Scott always brings a sometimes simmering, sometimes searing, intensity to his shows. The show was attended in large part by Scott’s faithful.
As the band settled in on stage, Scott spoke to the fans, saying “We’re happy to see you guys here bright and early again”, a reference to the 7:00pm start time. “Tonight’s gonna be a helluva show, I gotta tell you. There’s a lot of talent in the house, so we’re gonna do our best to ferry everybody on one by one.” Scott was not lyin’.
Scott got the crowd warmed up with frequent opener “Debt” followed by an unusual condensed arrangement of his “Put Your Soul Records On”. Perhaps once again knowing what is about to transpire, Scott gets his Johnny “Guitar” Watson cover in. This time playing “Cuttin’ In”, a 50’s doo-wop style number. After “The High Cost of Loving You” came another staple of most Brickyard Band shows – Moses Patrou taking over lead vocals on a song from his CD, this time “Everybody Wants Everything”. Scott did his “Words Can’t Say” and then it was bring on the guests!
Scott’s upstate protégé Connor Kennedy took on lead vocals on “Stand Back” from the Gregg Allman songbook. Nice guitar and vocals from Connor. They sent her to the Everglades. With bassist Adam Minkoff on lead vocals, and another guest, Scott’s old running mate Sean Dixon on drums, they take on Traffic’s “Empty Pages” with an exciting guitar solo from Connor. And then another Traffic song, “Medicated Goo”! with Scott and Connor trading verses on lead vocals and trading guitar solos that intertwine and end in twin guitar lines. (ooh, ooh ain’t it good for you).
The next guest was Solomon Hicks on guitar and vocals. Scott made a reference to the ‘young guns’ he’s bringing out. They tore into “Jan Jan”, an instrumental. Guest bassist Brett Bass joined in for one song as Solomon then lead the band singing the blues shuffle “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water”
Scott then called up two more guests, Jim Keller on guitar and vocals and Shawn Pelton on drums. Pelton is NYC’s first-call drummer who has been holding the drum chair in the Saturday Night Live band for years. I wasn’t familiar with Jim Keller, but he actually brought the energy level even further up. His song “Take Me For A Ride” did just that. Quite a wild ride.
Please see the video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3QByfET3go
(Later research informed that Jim is best known for being the lead guitarist in the 1980’s for Tommy Tutone, co-writing “867-5309/Jenny”. He currently tours with the Jim Keller Band.)
What do you do for a follow-up to that? How about “Ohio”, the Neil Young (CSN&Y) protest of government militaristic tactics against student protests in 1970. It’s a strong rendition of a powerful song. Sadly, the song resonates in 2016.
What was clear as the set progressed is that the audience was witnessing an incredibly special show. Scott followed up with “City Lights”, a rarely performed piece from his ‘Analog/Monolog CD, with Shawn Pelton still sittin’ in for Diego on drums. Scott’s scatting along with his guitar solo was a special treat.
The night comes to end with “A Real Mother For Ya”. The Johnny “Guitar” Watson funk favorite with both Solomon Hicks and Connor Kennedy taking their turns with guitar solos before Scott put an exclamation point on this totally off the charts show with a blistering guitar solo.
There is nothing like being there, but the videos I was able to get do show the amazing talent, the incredible songs, and capture the energy of these astounding shows. All who were there will remember these three shows for a long time.
Amy Helm with Scott Sharrard and The Brickyard Band:
“Rescue Me” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuN4KKmhvvk
“It Makes No Difference” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc159eCOwL0
with Gregg Allman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLaMDg8CjdI
with Connor Kennedy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a29Ev7kYca0
with Solomon Hicks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3-JnOAeaHo