By Tom Baldino
On a frigid Saturday night Joanne and I traveled to the other side of New Jersey, meeting up with fellow JSJBF members Christine and Bob Chaplinski to hear Paul Plumeri and his band perform at the historic Patriots Crossing Tavern on the banks of the Delaware river. Guitarist Paul and his band, Vinnie Ross on bass and Rick Lawton on drums are a formidable trio that weaves blues and classic rock into their own unique sound and believe me it’s a BIG sound!
The band was scheduled to play our Long Branch Jazz & Blues Festival in 2020, and if all goes well they will get their chance in 2022 with the Jersey Shore music audience being in for a musical treat. Ironically, they started this winter night with an instrumental version of a song I’ve heard a thousand times, but never like this, “Summertime.” Paul took the song on a sonic journey with his well worn Stratocaster to places it’s never been to my ears. When they finished, I knew we were in for a great night of music. It was followed by an original blues tune “Get On With It” showing that Paul can write a good song as well as interpret other’s material. They then switched gears for “The Letter,” a song made famous by The Box Tops in 1967. This rousing version was highlighted by Vinnie’s singing and the ensemble playing of the band. They slowed it down with a stellar version of the Otis Rush gem “All Your Love” which paid homage to the Peter Green version done with John Mayall. They then launched into the first of two Stevie Ray Vaughn numbers “Pride and Joy,” the other being “Cold Shot.” Paul told a funny story about how his father really liked the latter song but could never get the title right, calling it “Hot Shot” among several other tiles he made up. In a lush version of Willie Nelson’s “Nite Life,” Paul’s singing emphasized it was the “right life” for a musician whose career has spanned fifty plus years. The highlight of the evening for me was the epic version of “Hey Joe.” The song was a pop hit for the LA band The Leaves, then the totally reworked into the classic version later done by Jimi Hendrix. The band’s version stayed close to the Hendrix version but included an instrumental coda which was reminiscent of the extended version of “Black Magic Woman,” again another nod to the Peter Green influence. A medley of “Move it on Over/Tush” worked well and the aptly chosen instrumental Neil Young cover, “Down by the River” had me looking over my shoulder at the Delaware while singing the chorus with the rest of the audience. The closer, “Zamboni Strut” was another original instrumental that left the crowd wanting more.
The band plays the third Saturday night of the month at Patriots Crossing, and each December George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware is reenacted there. Finally, make sure you come out to see the band at the Long Branch Jazz & Blues Festival on August 27th.