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Professor Louie and The Crowmatix: Wings On Fire

Glenn Astarita By

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Professor Louie (Aaron Louis Hurwitz) and the Crowmatix hail from the artist colony, Woodstock, NY and have backed guitarist Rick Danko (The Band) amid other projects, along with their notoriety as supreme audience pleasers during live performances. Yet part of the magic lies within the group's harmonically attractive song-forms, replete with memorable themes and the Professor's resonating vibrato-inflected vocal delivery.

The ensemble plays several of The Band's comps during live shows and from an organic, honky-tonk standpoint, there are some similarities. But The Crowmatix maintain a signature sound that features a little rag-tag and rocking Americana, gospel, blues and a smidgeon of C&W. Indeed, the ensemble's catchy riffs and solid musicianship put a smile on my face from start to finish. Most every note plays some significance. On pieces such as "Uncommon Love" and "Open Hand, Open Heart," the Professor's smooth organ grooves and prophetic vocals with Josh Colow's gritty electric slide guitar riffs envelope a catchy, primary theme. Add a few heartfelt and melodic ballads into the mix, sheened by Miss Marie's soul-gospel vocals and you find yourself listening to a band that transfers impassioned emotive sensibilities into your listening space.

"The Bird Song" offers a folk-rock vibe, partly due to Miss Marie's tuneful whistling and the Professor's earthy accordion licks. Moreover, they turn in a few upbeat rockers that sound like they were among the radio hit parade from the '70s. And the band closes out the festivities with a loping and affectionate spin on Van Morrison's" 4% Pantomine, where Ms. Marie and the Professor engage in a little call and response vocalizing. Reviewed on LP, the analog recording duly captures the band's homespun musicality. Regardless, Wings On Fire is an album that fits snugly within a retro-perspective, yet sounds invigoratingly fresh for the present.

Track Listing: Down At The County; Uncommon Love; Open Hand, Open Heart; A Book Faded Brown; Top Of The World; Time Moves On; The Bird Song; Moment In The Sun; Center Of Your Circle; 4% Pantomime.

Personnel: Professor Louie: vocals, piano, Hammond organ and accordion; Miss Marie: vocals, percussion, piano and whistling; Gary Burke: drums; Frank Campbell: bass and backing vocals; Michael Falzarano: electric rhythm guitar (2); John Platania: acoustic guitar (4, 9); Vito Petroccitto: acoustic guitar (7, 8), backing vocals (9).

Title: Wings On Fire | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Woodstock Records

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