Streetwise – Crossing Bridges
This is a late entry but an impressive 10-cut. Pure modernized vintage rock n’ roll done exceptionally well. It’s nostalgic roots rock that’s surprisingly good. The band starts their songs with a vintage tint that sounds like it’s just an oldie rehash but then they kick into another gear & they smoke as they accelerate their sound (“A Better Place”) & fill it with enduring 60s ala the wonderfully colored sax runs. The lead guitar fuels the song with fervor. It’s typically good jukebox music but Streetwise manages to provide a modern-day squeeze to their old stylings.
This isn’t Bill Haley & the Comets, but it does have the tailored grace of bands like John Cafferty, Eddie & the Cruisers, the Iron City Houserockers, Eddie & The Tide, all held together by Brooklyn-born singer-producer Raymond Castronovo (rhythm guitar/solo guitar). He takes his 50s-60s R&R to a celebratory level — NYC coming out, reinventing & reopening itself.
While Ray doesn’t have a strong Elvis Presley voice, Bobby Darin swagger, or intensity of Jim Morrison, he does have style with his smooth confident delivery. He’s like a missing link between Bobby Rydell-Dion DiMucci & Bruce Springsteen.
“Shake It,” is superb. Even the younger crowd with rap/hip-hop would find the groove in this tune & dance. It’s a foot mover. Has a soul mix of rock al dente. Well-arranged it drives with excellent musicianship. “Dream Girl,” is tailored in a Bobby Darin-Neil Sedaka suit.
Streetwise is a tight band. Crossing Bridges (DayQuest-Released March 2021) finds Ray’s vocals solid throughout & gets each song across with energy & cohesion. Ray’s vocals cruise cool down a boulevard as on “Low Tide,” (melody written by Paul Glazer – lead & rhythm guitar). The interaction between lead guitar & wind instruments (Carl Obrig) is punchy. Marylyn Roman’s backup vocals are wonderful.
It’s a great band. They understand this music, how it should stride (“Boxed In Blues”). You hear it in their performance: “Fighting the Dragon” (battling cancer) is exuberant. Excellent instrumental exchange. Ray’s vocals can be warm, but he finds his necessary just under the surface doo-wop voice with expertise. I like him even better than Kenny Vance.
Also at play: Chris Bruschi (bass) & Joe Martinez (bass – played for Chubby Checker), Jason Staniulis, Kevin Twigg, & Tom Jorgensen (drums/percussion).
You don’t have to be from the 50s/60s to appreciate this fanciful collection. Everything is danceable, positive, & uplifting. No showboating except for skillful performances. Engaging music that gives your ears a melodic ride.
For me, I’m back at NJ’s Palisade’s Amusement Park hand-clapping to the cool bands on an open stage. The sun is shining, I have a Neapolitan ice cream with a Pepsi – who’s got it better than me? (in my mind).
This music does that.
More Ray…make some more.
Color photo courtesy of Steve Reganato. The 44-minute CD is available @ Amazon & https://www.streetwiseny.com/