Gone Jam’n - Wildcat O'Halloran

By Jimm O’D
May 2014

Spare Time Northampton- City Sports Grille - 3/23
with Cheri Drexler, Barkeep Extraordinaire

Another fine CatJam, as I like to call 'em, with the amazingly talented and (equally important) skilled Eva Marie Cappelli guest hosting yesterday. My sister just happened to happen by this week, and so Eva has a new fan. She’s that good (Eva, I mean) that a new listener will latch on to her at first listen, just as I did. Eva’s voice is perfect (even if her mic was a tad loud); she belts ‘em out or sings them softly, just as the material calls for. And the material, strictly her own (few if any covers here), is the next thing to draw in the novitiate. With clever, intelligent, and relevant lyrics and rightly matched instrumentation, the songs grab you. Clarity helps, too- Eva’s enunciation and diction make it easy to hear the words. She’s a great singer!

So the new listener is drawn in easily enough, especially when Eva starts off with few of her own rockers. Joe Fitzpatrick plays whatever he plays just as perfectly as Eva, so there’s a great match. Jopey’s drumming, heard all around the Valley these days, like with Wildcat himself, or Tommy Whalen; or on recordings such as Doug Hewitt’s new “Roots in the Sky” CD (with Rudi Weeks on bass), is immaculately flawless. In fact, since Joe was the ‘house’ drummer for this week’s CatJam, along with the similarly flawless Gene Lavoie on bass, it was a perfect showcase for his capricious skills.

Bruce Korona played lead for Eva, as happens fairly often. I am always struck by how well “B. Joseph” matches his pyrotechnics to Eva’s style. Bruce is a fiery player; his pedigree is mostly hard rock, but his professionalism shows when he plays to the songs. About an hour into the CatJam, Eva stepped aside to sing backup for Bruce and sister Gail as they did a set. It’s always a treat to have Gail step up to the mic; she’s a house fave and a “Cat treat” as well!

Dan Margolis came on and belted out a few with Joe and Gene, including Muddy Waters’ “I’m Ready,” which we don’t hear a whole lot, so... cool! Shawn Mansfield, another Eva-and-everywhere guy, joined for a set, so we got a double dose o’ Dan- even cooler!

A new jammer, a young lady known only as Ally, sang “Son of a Preacher Man,” another treat for us all. After a set by Ed and His Shiny Red Guitar, with fills from Bruce and drums by a new jammer, the jam started to kick up a notch- as it always does at about half-way through. The room gets to be about half-capacity, with maybe a hundred or so humans in the house, and we’re all settled in, warmed up... and then, of course, Joe Dulude comes along. Before he even plays, Joey dances! Look out y’all, the party’s just getting started! And who’s the cute chick he’s hangin’ with?

At 6:30, things took a serious turn... seriously jammin’, as Tommy Whalen took the stage. Local legend Chet Pasek started slapping the skins somewhere along the way, and then Joe Dulude came on while Tommy stayed. My two current man-crushes, on stage together- what could be better? Joe started with Brown Sugar, a new treat for the CatJam, and Tom traded licks and vocals excellently.

Gene “The Dancin’Machine” Lavoie held down the bass for most of the jam, though Shawn Mansfield gave him a break or two so he could join his wife and prove his nickname. And Joe Fitzpatrick managed to get back behind the drum kit somewhere along the way; it’s all so much fun that one can’t possibly keep track of it all... At any rate, the CatMan called Eva back with forty or so minutes left to go; she playfully rolled through a few more of her excellent songs before Wildcat came on to “count in Spanish,” which leads into “Woolly Bully” and signals that the end is near. As always, the jam finishes with “Got My Mojo Workin,’” and that right there is worth the price of admission- which is to say, it’s deal, cause this deal is free. We win!

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