Tag Archives: Clark Stern

Packin’ Light – Josh Preslar Band

Josh Preslar newI’m confessing right up front that Josh and the band are personal friends and that I worried a little when Josh asked me to write a review. Live, they are as much fun and as tight as any national touring band out there. What if that didn’t translate to a record? What if I didn’t like the album? What would I have to say? Needless worry.

If Josh Preslar can pack the house and have everyone near ‘bout hanging from the rafters song after song, it stands to reason that he can pack an album. He’s done just that with his new CD, and don’t let the title fool you.

Packin’ Light is an eleven-song collection stacked end-to-end with original tunes tastefully played by his “house band,” who just happen to be a handful of Triangle favorites – T.A. James (bass and guitar), Chuck Cotton (drums), Clark Stern (keyboards), and Mike “Howlin’ Wind” Davis (harmonica/vocals). With special guests Tad Walters (harmonica), David Richards (trumpet, Tim Smith (tenor sax), Neal Chapman (guitar) and Chris Bennett (guitar) sitting in, he really did turn the studio into a juke joint. And those of us who are regular fans know exactly what that means.

Preslar, a generous front man with a guitar style and voice as smooth and caressive as a fine bourbon (not to mention an enviable hat collection) lets each of his players shine throughout, often stepping back and sharing guitar space with James, Chapman, and Bennett.  Part of Preslar’s talent, aside from his vocal and guitar playing, is his ability to manage a room full of multi-instrumentalists and still make everything come out sounding spare and full all at the same time. It’s pure musical joy to hear the results when he seamlessly and expertly moves each into the spotlight.

JoshPreslarBandSoDu

Favorite cuts? “Housekeepin’.”  It’s basic relationship truth that gets in a groove you don’t want to leave. Leave that useless stuff behind. As long as it is, at nearly 6 and a half minutes, you don’t really want it end.  “Josh’s Boogie” feels good from the first note to the last. On second thought, don’t make me pick. The CD has been playing in my car and house for 4 solid weeks and, with each listen, my appreciation for the collection grows.

A self-proclaimed road warrior, Preslar’s been playing blues all his life and loves being out with a band. Packin’ Light is a reverent testament to the “grab what you need and it better fit in a matchbox or it’s getting left behind” simplicity of early blues along with the necessity of being able to hit the road traveling light whenever the notion strikes.

The songs on Packin’ Light tell a story. Whether it’s a town or a woman who talks too much or a dusty broom, life is often about what you leave behind in search of what’s in front of you.  Musically, it’s also a serious nod to the often miss-attributed Miles Davis quote “it’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”

The Josh Preslar Band knows exactly which ones those are and the wisdom to know just which to leave behind.
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Catch Josh Preslar Band at one of these upcoming CD release shows
Sat., June 6, 2015 – Walker’s Bar, Greensboro, NC
Sat., June 13, 2015 – Rock Harbor Grill, Apex NC
Fri., June 26, 2015 – Blue Note Grill, Durham, NC

Take a listen on ReverbNation!

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Do you believe in magic? + the name game + Sunday supper + music on shuffle

Will McFarlane & Band at The Blue Note Grill

Holy rock and roller! 
Where there’s a Will there’s a way …  a Will McFarlane, that is.  Way is for his playing … as in way great … as in the way that everyone playing with him just automatically amps way up a couple of notches … as in the way all of us witnessing said playing at the Blue Note Grill last night are jaw-droppingly mesmerized … as in the way it turned into a family affair with Will’s wife, Janet, sharing vocals and son, Jamie, on bass.  Well, you get most of the picture … the rest of which includes Clark Stern on keyboards and Justin Holder on drums.  If you don’t believe me, go google these players.

Three sets, three handsome men sharing my table (Robert, David & Mike), and three glasses of Matchbook Cab later and I still wasn’t ready to go home and break the spell.  The band brought their A-game with Standy By Me, Bring it on Home, Do Right Woman,  Nadine, My Little Runaway, Dixie Chicken … it was pure magic. I could go on and on, but then I’d just be rubbing it in.
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Robert \r(o)-be-rt\ a boy’s name pronounced RAH-bert is of Old German origin and means  “bright fame.” A favorite name for boys since the Middle Ages. Especially favored by the Scots due to 14th-century king Robert the Bruce and to poet Robert Burns. (Credit: www.thinkbabynames.com)

I know how many of you are laughing already. I’d laugh too if it wasn’t just so damn weird … and a little creepy, if I think about it long and hard enough. If you’ve heard, or read, about my boomerang drummer phenomenon, then you shouldn’t be surprised here … this is just one further example of my inescapable universal loop.  (Jump over here to peek behind the cymbals if you have no clue what I’m talking about.)

Somewhere early in the Life of Me, “it” was written. Or maybe the “Bob” fairy waved a magic wand over my bald baby head or cut my baby powder with something dark and twisty assuring that I would forever have some sort of Robert in my life. What Dr. Seuss character was let loose in my life story, I wanna know?  Bob, I am?  And why a Robert, fer cryin’ out loud?  Why not a Willie or a Sam? What possible lesson could I learn by having a Robert … or a Bob … or a Bobby … or a Rob?  None, I tell you … none.

But have them I do. It’s not even something you can take precautions against.  About a year and a half ago I was actually seeing two Roberts’ at the same time … and I admit right here and now that I got a bit of a cheap thrill out of it. At least I didn’t have to ever worry about calling one of them the wrong name during an intimate moment.

When I meet a man and he tells me his name is Robert/Bob/Bobby, I just smile knowingly and say “of course, it is” … much the same way I respond  “of course, you are”  if they tell me they are a drummer.

Far be it from me to try to make sense of this cosmic name game.
Robert, Robert, bo-bobert,
banana-fana-fo-fobert,
fee-fi-m0-mobert. Robert!

I don’t make this stuff up.  Cross my heart. Hope to ….
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Sunday just squawks for roast chicken and biscuits.  And this Sunday it’s supposed to be cold and rainy, with even a slight chance of snow in the mix … so there you go.

Just slide some garlic herb butter up underneath the skin, nestle that bird in a big old Le Creuset pot with some white wine, garlic, potatoes, carrots, onions, fennel, mushrooms, peas and some tarragon tucked in around it … pop that baby in the oven for a couple of hours.

Serve it with a salad, biscuits, and a bottle of pinot noir.   And for those of you who only drink white wine with chicken … yes, it’s ok to drink white wine before Labor Day.

Is this a good time to mention that my friend Robert is coming over for supper?
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Music on ShuffleMusic to shuffle through while roasting a bird:
The Funky Chicken (Rufus Thomas)
Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
Wasn’t Born to Follow (The Byrds)
I’ll Fly Away (Gillian Welch/Alison Krauss)
How Long (The Eagles)
Fly Like an Eagle (Steve Miller Band)
Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)