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The Seth Yacovone Blues Trio At Red Square

Doug Collette By

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The Seth Yacovone Blues Trio
Red Square
Burlington, VT
July 16, 2017

On this warm, breezy summer evening outside Burlington Vermont's Red Square, The Seth Yacovone Blues Trio's first of three sets was sufficiently moving and diverse to satisfy like a concert complete unto itself. Yet the threesome's performance manifest passion and solidarity most directly through the inclusion of two numbers lying outside the strict definition of the blues.

Seth Yacovone simultaneously offers homage to, and does a favor for, Bob Dylan by covering one of The Bard's most carefully-wrought (but unfortunately often overlooked) latter-day songs. The Native Vermont guitarist/vocalist rendered vivid the intrinsic portent in "Blind Willie McTell," utilizing the ache in his voice as much as his careful picking of the shadowy notes from his guitar. The deft, understated accompaniment of drummer Jeff Salisbury and bassist Jan Schultz, helped remind how astounding it is the Nobel Laureate author of this tune left it off the album for which it was originally destined, Infidels (Columbia, 1983).

As ethereal as was that performance, the Trio turned Neil Young's "Barstool Blues" into a direct, visceral shot to the soul and the psyche. Accustomed to dance around his kit a la the great NOLA percussionist Stanton Moore, Salisbury kept the beat hard and steady here, allowing his rhythm partner Schultz to inject a couple altogether startling, arcing runs. The beauty of Seth Yacovone's covers, as with this one from the Crazy Horse era of Zuma (Reprise, 1975), is such that he turns his choices into personal statements: when the sparse but fully-engaged al fresco audience heard him sing the most noteworthy lines of the composition more than once, those attendees all knew how much he meant them.

The stark nature of these two numbers didn't render any less memorable the slashing version of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor," or other riff-based arrangements such as that of Freddie King's "Hideaway." In fact, the cumulative effect of The Seth Yacovone Blues Trio's opening hour-plus was music so hot, the breeze wafting up 'Alfredo's Alley' off Church Street felt all that much more delicious.

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