Tommy Z

Tommy Z
Sometimes

South Blossom Records, 2013

By Lady K
December 2013

Tommy Z is out of Western New York State, and on Sometimes he is the songwriter and the vocalist (and he brought his amazing guitar). The rest of the players include: Frank Reino, Jerry Livingston, Walter Riggo (bass); Sam Guarino, Barry Arborgast, Gil DeBrasse (horns); JJ Moscato (keyboards); Damone Jackson (drums); and Kevin Urso (strings).

Sometimes contains 7 original tunes and 3 covers, although he made some adjustments to one cover: Willie Dixon’s “300 Pounds of Joy” is 200 pounds here (guess Tommy Z has his limits).

To get things started and listeners engaged, “Roger That” is a rip-roaring, up-tempo, guitar-heavy instrumental. Seriously, with lots of guitar and Jackson’s drums; no vocals are necessary. “200 Lbs. of Joy” remains true to Dixon’s version, even to the chorus “this is it, this is it / what you get.” This tune is nearly instrumental – more heavy-duty rockin’ guitar blues than lyrics, and it is tons of fun (whatever the weight).

Johnny Guitar Watson‘s “Gangster of Love” is a mid-tempo shuffle that is sexy and bluesy and will make you want to boogie. There’s some subtle organ background that perfectly enhances the killer Z-guitar, AND in places, a really cool echo-effect on Tommy’s vocals. “Livin’ in a Blue State” is killer blues, but it’s not about living in a ‘blues state’ (where we’d all like to be). This is more a commentary on the political hue of his particular state (all he’s seeing is red, ‘cause he’s livin’ in a blue state).

Many years ago, Lady K loved a concert that she saw in D.C., when Eric Clapton and Robert Cray toured together (with Phil Collins drumming in Clapton’s band). So she would have loved “Old Love,” just because it was written by Clapton and Cray. Here it’s a mind-numbingly great slow blues number – heavy on guitar (no surprise there). “Snooty Funk” is what it says: F-U-N-K!! It’s an instrumental of funk, blues, rock, with Z’s guitar and Jackson’s drums taking center stage. This tune is down-low and funky, with the bass and organ making nice in the background.

“So Tired of Being Lonely” is a slow, slow, slow sad blues tune, and it’s Lady K’s favorite track. “I’m so tired of being lonely / I make my way all by myself / I don’t have me nobody / I don’t have me someone else / I once had a true love / it weren’t always this way / some devil and his money came and stole my love away.” And when Tommy Z stops singing, his guitar takes over. Lady K also loved Jackson’s very subtle but very emotional use of cymbals on this track.

Slow blues, but optimistic, reminds us that “Sometimes” things work out. Even the Z-guitar expresses happiness at the quirky ways of love … without her he’s happier, life is better, he’s got more riches: “It’s hard to see before that change begins / Sometimes when you lose you really win.” The album closer is a racing-speed boogie/rag instrumental with a big band sound: “Tommy’s Boogie” is for everyone – as is the entire Sometimes CD.

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