CONCERT REVIEW

 

MAMBO SONS w/ special guest GLORY BOX - Friday, March 1st, Sully's Pub, West Hartford, CT. (aka "March Madness and Musical Masterpieces")

There is Truth to "March comes in like a Lion": Ask anyone who was fortunate enough to be part of the packed Sully's crowd in West Hartford on Friday night, March 1st... Two talented bands tag-teamed for an awesome result: Glory Box and Mambo Sons combined to bring applause, smiles, dancing, singalong swaying, and even appreciative MarchMadness roar.

Glory Box has been Greater Hartford-based for the last few years. They are: Sean Cronin on bass; Paul Pita on Drums and Percussion; Don Papas on guitar; and Mandy Rohde on vocals. Glory Box was originally Gyre, and before that there were earlier incarnations, some with, some without names. Don, Paul and Sean were always at the core. Paul Pita alternates between the drums and percussive goodies; a single conga drum provide a solid on were always at the core. But the additional of focal point, the exceptionally talented Mandy Rohde, was a breakthrough in terms of their sound, material and growth in their following.

Mandy's got a Jewel, Sarah McLaughlin, dream-weaving kinda voice... excellent dynamics and range, and a Tinker Bell like-magic in her delivery. They did one set, which consisted of mostly original material. They are very laid-back in style: polished, with what they describe as Folk Rock....it fits.

Glory Box opened the night to a packed crowd with "Gentle Chains", penned by Cronin and Stephen Gage (former member from the Gyre incarnation)... Mandy's vocal expressions were well received by the packed house. You realize they have a dedicated following when you realize that most of the audience sings along, word for word, on Glory Box's originals. Their covers all were magically transformed via their own craftsmanship: Steven Still's "Love The One You're With") took on a much lighter feel than the original. Steve Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle" got a particular jazzy treatment. Paul Pita, alternating between drums and congas, meshed tightly with Cronin's fundamental progressions. Papas' guitar phrasing underscored his ability to create a zen-like state with the perfection emanating from his Stratocaster.

Glory Box was exactly as defined in Australia: (def): a small chest in which treasures are contained. Treasures indeed. Check out www.gloryboxband.com for band info.
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Mambo Sons do anything but Mambo... they kick ass, basically. No holes barred. (Check their site out at www.mambosons.com . Mambo Sons including founders Scott Lawson and local guitarwiz Tom Guerra. Jeff Keithline on bass and Mike Hayden round out the group. Collectively, there are years of all kinds of experience between these four, and it shows in their ability to feel very at home resurrecting a chestnut from the past, shining with their intelligent and storytelling originals.... Let's not forget that they can lay down some serious blues, and killer rock n roll.

Oh, and let's clear things up, regarding their brand of Rock N Roll. This isn't an '80s longhair band, or a tribute; nor will you find any due diligence to Grunge. Tom and I ended up tossing around a theory on where they get their set list, ideas and music. It's nothing new, this musical excavation. Tom, Scott, Jeff and Mike certainly have their common, musical influences. Some of this history goes back to the days that Guerra was in the Dirty Bones band, playing in ECSU and UConn. Ditto with Mike and Jeff, who have their own ancestry. It's as if there has always been this vast vault of musical bones, from which at any point the fine musician can draw upon... different musicians might pull different musical bones from the past, and mix them up and change them from night to night: but always paying homage to the greats that created that collection of bones.... old and dusty, but somehow the dust gets blown off them, and the resulting musical skeleton becomes the night's set list. The Mambo Sons have their own material, rich in the lessons of the past, as well as the bones they've dusted off, rearranged, and presented in such a wonderful way... you sing along thinking "man, I've never heard this before", til you realize you are singing right along!

Sons opened with "Habits of Mine" and went right into "Crazy Girl." Although the band primarily does originals, among the covers they played included "Feel A Whole Lot Better" and "My Back Pages" (Tom on a double-neck 12/6-string Gibson), the Stones' "Dead Flowers", and Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" with Tom taking a vocal lead, and "Psychotic Reaction" by the Count Five. The band is SO tight. Mike Hayden is rock solid. You might have seen the band recently profiled by Channel 30WVIT and Fox 61News, filmed in the band's local retreat. They have a following of fans from here to Japan.
Guerra's a guitarist extraordinaire, with endorsements, experience and appreciation for other talent: he's been writing for Vintage Guitar magazine for years.

Mambo Sons set covered material from their first CD, including "Monkeyfinger," "Slipaway", "Devil Moon" and "Tomonga Street", plus new material from their to-be-released upcoming CD, spiced with well-chosen covers, including a cover of Jeff's "Flower Power Jim" from his "Jeff Now" CD. Scott and Tom go back 2 decades to their days playing gigs at ECSU, and UCONN; the years as brothers in rock is evident. Ditto with Mike and Jeff - two local musicians who have legendary roots in this area. Mambo Sons' set list is at the end of this article.

Glory Box and Mambo Sons are two very special local bands.... you are not going to find either one playing out every weekend, so to have seen both on stage in one venue made for a night to remember! Sully's was packed. And when the crowd includes a number of local musicans (including Bob Laramie, who has won Advocate Best Bassist; and this writer), it's a tribute to Glory Box and Mambo Sons that such talent is showing up to see other talent. Superlatives don't do them justice. Keep your eyes and ears open.... The word is already out that the braintrust is working on another Box/Sons twin-bill!!

....Stan Sax StanSax1@AOL.COM 03/7/02

MAMBO SONS SETLIST

SET 1
1. Habits of Mine
2. Crazy Girl
3. I Get Around Too Much
4. Little Live Thing
5. Tomonga Street
6. Rockaway
7. It Was You
8. Baby, What You Want Me To Do
9. What You Got
10. Feel A Whole Lot Better
11. River is Wide

SET 2
1. My Back Pages
2. Our Time is Getting Closer
3. Strawberry Hill
4. Flower Power Jim
5. Slipaway
6. Devil Mooooo
7. Monkeyfinger
8. Come on Back To Me
9. Everything Was Mine
10. '79 (Gonna Lose My Mind)
11. Blame It All On You
12. Psychotic Reaction
13. Sweet Jane
14. Everybody's Got a Little Judy in Them
15. Dead Flowers
16. Back Door Man