Thursday, November 5, 2015

Billy The Kid & The Regulators Unleash I Can't Change

It’s been a long time since the Professor has made a trip to Pittsburgh. My only times through were when I was working the early comedy circuit and I used to regularly play the Pittsburgh and Ohio areas where I was regularly paid that most Pittsburghian of compliments and called a “jagoff” on more than one occasion.
I’m actually not sure of the proper spelling of said compliment, but I have no doubt that one of my more astute readers from Steel Town will enlighten me as to its correct usage.
Seriously, I’ve only been in the spring and summer and it was beautiful then. Lovely gardens, a terrific ballpark, some great food – I hear the winters are nothing at all like that and the place becomes a snowy icy mess. Thanks, but I get enough of that around here.
Still, I did want to return around Labor Day when my friends, Rapid Robert and his Blushing Bride Barbara finally tied the knot. Dear friends, but unfortunately family obligations kept my feet nailed to the floor, but we toasted them from afar and will see them later this year if all things go according to plan.
Part of that plan is to catch the Pittsburgh based Billy The Kid & The Refulators. This is one hard driving take no prisoners kind of electric blues band that starts off fast and pretty much takes us along on a heart pounding ride.
Their recent CD, I CAN’T CHANGE, actually hit my desk back in August during those aforementioned family obligations and somehow ended up in the middle of a pile of music. I truly wish I had come across it earlier as I could have been listening to it for a longer time.
If you like your blues in your face and rocking hard, this is the CD for you. After hearing them through my little speakers, I can’t wait to see them live!
Members of the band wrote six of the 10 tracks with front man Billy Evanochko co-penning three of those with fellow guitarist Jon Vellecorsa and slide guitarist James Doughtery writing the other three. The other songs featured are a couple of classics by Jimmy Reed and Robert Johnson and songs by Bernard Roth and Dave McKenzie.
The band consists of: Billy Evanochko on guitar and vocals; Jon Vallecorsa also on guitar and vocals; James Dougherty on slide guitar and vocals; Arnold Stagger on bass; Brian Edwards on drums and vocals and Ublai Bey on keyboards and vocals.
They had a lot of help on the CD, including the Steel Town Horns: Reggie Watkins on trombone; Rick Matt on Saxophone; and JD Chasin on trumpet; guitarists Damon Fowler and Sean Carney; harmonica wizard Jason Ricci; and vocalist Yolanda Barber. These additional players give the band a deep rich sound and the use of the horns adds a solid jump flavor to the proceedings.
Right out of the gate with the title track, I Can’t Change, the horns announce the arrival of something special. Dougherty’s lyrics are wicked and the entire song rocks. This is a tight number to open with and Barber’s backing vocals soar to just the right altitude.
Then the band kicks it into funky town with Ain’t Gotta Prove Nothing, the first song co-written by Evanochko and Vallecorsa. I’m not sure who plays which guitar, but the two trade off licks at the break and the song drives from the opening note to the final out.
Evanochko and Vallecorsa slow things down with a nice ballad, What Are We Fighting For. The Steel Town Horns and Barber are along to add their touches to the song and it really strengthens the sound.
Next up is a fun number co-written by Evanochko, Vallecorsa, and Bill Henry, Story Of The Blues. The song uses Bey’s keyboards as the canvas and the guitars and vocals paint the picture.  
Who is a rocking number written by Bernard Roth. It’s a solid driving song that sounds like it would be strong live. It’s got a raucous play between all of the instruments, including Ricci’s harp.
Then we get in to a sly area with That Darn Cat. No it has nothing to do with the Disney title of the same name, but once again Bey’s keys and Edwards’ drums add spice to the song. It’s a lot of fun.
Then there’s the story that I can’t identify with Slender Man Blues. My non understanding aside, this is a fun song that I’m sure is well received anytime it’s played live.
I’ve mentioned live performances a few times, because sometimes you can just tell that a group is at its best when it’s in front of hundreds of screaming sweating people who can give them tons of energy with which to feed on. Billy The Kid & The Regulators has been a top performer, recently taking 3rd Place in Memphis at the Blues Challenge.
That’s no easy task. I know they have released at least two albums prior to this one, and I plan of getting them in order to put together a segment for an upcoming show.
Next up is Jimmy Reed’s Can’t Stand To See You Go. Here the band reverts to an old school sound, stripping down to the bare essentials. Once again Ricci’s harp adds a nice bite to the song. They follow that up with another Dougherty composition, Saturday Night. If Time For The Blues had a theme song, it would be this one. It’s over the top fun and it reminds you just how much fun the music can be.
The CD concludes with one of Robert Johnson’s best, Me And The Devil Blues. Once again, they have stripped down the instrumentation to get closer to the original sound. It’s a nice nod to the blues that got us here from a band that pushing the boundaries for where the blues are going.

The Professor says to check out their website and find out when Billy The Kid & The Regulators are playing near you, and go see ‘em. You won’t be disappointed!

(Photo of Billy The Kid & The Regulators generously "borrowed" from their website. If you are the copyright holder and want it removed, please contact us and it will be done. Of course when you turn your back we're going to call you a jaggoff...)

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