Since 2001 Raisinhead has been playing in Upstate New York and the surrounding area. Although some of the musicians have changed over the years, the core members still play and despite the different directions previous members have gone, they have all returned to play together from time to time.
A few have taken the time to leave their reflections on either the albums that have been released from Raisinhead or from seeing the band perform live and a local club. See what others are saying about Raisinhead.
“Raisinhead reminds me of what Duke Ellington said ‘If it sounds good it is good’ … The sweet melodic jam sounds of Raisinhead make even the harshest music critics swoon. This band is a rare combination of talent and heart and understands how to interpret these great songs.”
Some of the most polished songwriting anyone is likely to come across this year comes from the NY band Raisinhead. Their latest, Back To The Tracks, brings a slew of engaging musical styles performed by well worn jam band veterans. Put together two years ago by Rob Beaulieu, Raisinhead consists of Tom pirozzi and Brian mangini from the Ominous Seapods, Ted Grey of Harvest and session drummer Scott Apicelli. The Album was produced by Chuck D’Aloia and recorded with Tony Perino, who records and tours with Dan Toler of Dickey Betts and Great Southern fame.
“Autumn” begins the recording and sets the standard, laying down an engaging vibe wrapped up in the warm vocals of Nick Landess. If you mixed the sounds of the south with a great NY band like God Street Wine the resulting sound might be something like “Autumn.” Brian Mangini’s keyboards shine alongside D’Aloia’s sparkling solos.
“Never Die” has a deeply rooted feel to it and let’s loose with a rocking mid-section, courtesy of Apicelli’s driving rhythms. A great sentiment fills the structure of a man who’s been through the relationship grinder one too many times. “I wish I saw your mess and your bullet proof vest comin’ up around the bend.” Landess sings with conviction. “Rock Cut Road” ventures into Little Feat Territory with Mangini tinkling the ivories and Todd nelson’s slide guitar holding the boogie tight. An open ended jam ensues, balanced by Pirozzi’s heavy bass slapping, gluing the sound together.
With references to New Orleans, Memphis and Mississippi Mr. Beaulieu and Raisinhead bring forth the appropriate swampy improvisations and Cajun cookin’ to the proceedings. “Old Wind” has a well worn pace that is filled out by Beaulieu’s lead vocals, Mangini’s b-3 accents and Nelson’s soulful acoustic ramblings that fit the number’s mood like a pair of well worn shoes.
Rob Beaulieu and Raisinhead have joined together on Back to The Tracks to create a high quality song craft with dancing melodies and precision musicianship. It’s one of those rare cd’s you will find yourself going back to time after time.
Rob Beaulieu’s, “Evoking the Sun”
I remember singer/guitarist/songwriter Rob Beaulieu (Raisinhead) telling me in an interview about how influential the classic sounds of blues, soul, gospel, folk and rock music are in his playing. He’s soaked up all of those rootsy old school vintage sounds and squeezed them out all over his new album Evoking the Sun. The reggae-tinged upbeat opener “Ten Long Years” starts the album off on a high note. Its nostalgic lyrics are a wall of ambiguity where each verse can either leave you feeling inner-darkness or optimism leading up to the powerful chorus “While I was dreamin’/ I lost my touch with you.” The real meat of the album picks up with the horn infused soul boogie “Sally,” followed by the guitar-drivin “Springtime.” On “Lightning” Beaulieu goes Daltry, and totally pulls it off in this monster four-minute rock tune. Guitar heroics follow on “Willie Brown” before closing the album with another dimension of Beaulieu: the folkie. The introspective and harsh, yet rewardingly honesty of “Blinding Light” is a fitting end to Evoking the Sun. Sonically, Evoking the Sun doesn’t enter any unchartered territory, but Beaulieu’s old school roots sound is lively and pleasantly refreshing. And even though his songwriting skills surpass his vocal range, it’s all forgivable: a good tune is a good tune, and Evoking the Sun has plenty of them.
“Beaulieu creates a timeless rock’n roll sound with introspective lyrics, memorable vocal melodies and great guitar playing. Beaulieu has always been passionate about music, thelocal music scene and life. “Evoking the Sun” is the perfect collection of his songs that reflects that.”
“Raisinhead leader Rob Beaulieu is a certified practitioner of the jam band arts. But Evoking the Sun, his second record in only twice as many years, Beaulieu sounds best when he strays from noodle rock revelry and dips deep in the funk. Sally is a serious trek through Meters territory, repleat with Tower of Power-ed horns and a killer second line groove. Pulse is a filthy, down home slide guitar work out that owes more to the swamp than it does to the suburbs. And Beaulieu is one bad dude when he wants to be. Not that he should hang up his jammin’ shoes; they’re still a good fit. But Beaulieu is not faking the funk, so let’s hope he explores that side of the Raisin sometime soon”
Raisinhead had a a tough time on their hands, opening for such big time masters. Fortunately, local hero Rob Beaulieu’s skilled, versitile sextet also had alot on their minds, Lots of styles and ideas.
They stretched out confidently among traditions and within songs, the reggae inspired “Jubilation” and “10 Long Years” shining out from some sunny Carribean of the mind, but also changing colors like jams by the Grateful Dead or Phish, showing both elastic flexability and rubbery strength floating on wings of slippery guitar riffs. Not everything mutated and hybridized: “Folsom Prison Blues” was straight up country and wickedly good – like the rest of their note-packed hour onstage.
“Local jam band Raisinhead played a polar-opposite show to open the night. Each tune started smoothly, picked up at midpoint and then slowed down gently for their standard endings. Every member improvised and sang. They played mostly their own tunes. In “Moses” (followed by “Autumn”), they started with quality harmonizing before shifting into a nice instrumental that moved as naturally as the river breeze they sang about. Eventually they brought the song to a near standstill before lifting it to their highest point of the show. Raisinhead is always a good band to see. But their best nights are when guitarist Rob B leads the group around and around choruses as many times as they need but Thursday’s crowd wasn’t conducive to that. No Matter. They played some winners like The Band’s “The Weight” and (Beaulieu’s) “Sally” setting the scene for a relaxed enjoyable night.”
“Local jam band Raisinhead, meanwhile, opened their set with the bouncy, airy, ska-drenched “Jubilation” which showed off the band’s forceful energy. The six peice jumped seamlessly from rocking country to blues rock with the crowd favorite “Ten long Years” in between. While there were moments when Raisinhead’s extended jams grew stale, those forays into improv were largely adventurous and exciting.”