George Potor and Joe DeCristopher both were raised in New Jersey in the 1950's and 60's, and
schooled and settled in Pennsylvania, but they didn't meet until late 1979. Though they played occasionally as a duo, their first excursion as a band was with the ppits, a motley crew of seven (and sometimes more), full of political irreverence and fun. The ppits morphed into a quintet, Veto and the Hitmen, which like the ppits, performed twice on WVIA's Homegrown Music with a bundle of original tunes, mostly by George, by George.
Over the last few years, George and Joe, with Rick Totten, formed Good Without One, the
drummerless rock trio fueled by the retrograde administration of Cheney and W, spawning such gems as "Less Scratch, More Itch", "The Ballad of W, M.D. (Ducking Like a Quack)", "Above the
Law", "Things Could Get Worse", and "The Gitmo Swing."
The winds of change continue to blow, and George and Joe continue to collaborate, sometimes as a duo, sometimes with the help of others.
Happily, Fred Strickland has come onboard with his 5-string bass, vocals & songwriting. They look forward to introducing new tunes, some political (George's "Low Infaux Voter", Joe's "Subprime Blues" and Fred's "Fox U"), some not, like the rocking "Inis Mor", named for the island off the coast of Ireland that George visited in the summer of 2008.
What I'm Listening to ...
Joe DeCristopher, vocals and guitar - Lately, I've been listening to a vast array of neo-Djangoistas. I confess a lifelong weakness for hot guitar licks.
In high school, it was all electric blues in the 12-bar, 3-chord format. In college, Eric Clapton on "Fresh Cream" playing "Sleepy Time Time" was noteworthy for clean, tasteful and emotive licks.
It wasn't until many years later that I got my first listen to the outrageous, acoustic fluency and harmonic complexity of Django Reinhardt. That fiery Gypsy was perfectly accompanied by the outrageously melodic, happy playing of Stephane Grappelli (the latter of whom I had the pleasure of seeing play live in the late '70s the man with the laughing violin).
There are a number of "Hot Club" bands with excellent acoustic guitar players in the "gypsy swing" mode, like the Hot Club of San Francisco, featuring Paul Mehler. Recently, I've been taken with the Hot Club of Detroit, featuring Evan Perri on guitar (on the group's self-titled debut, and follow-up "Night Town").
While HCSF stays in the Django-Grappelli quintet format - two rhythm guitars, violin, bass and lead guitar - the Motor City swingsters shake it up with accordion and clarinet. Whether they're doing Django standards like "Belleville" or originals like "Night Town," the music is brisk, happy and nearly always mood-lifting.
For an extra treat, check out French virtuoso Bireli LaGrene and friends' live concert in Vienna in 2002. The DVD is available on Netflix. You'll experience more mind-bendingly, hot acoustic guitar licks than you'll ever need.
George Potor, vocals and guitar - I first heard Carolina Chocolate Drops performing and being interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." I couldn't wait to get out of my car and order the album. The band delivers old time, southern, black string-band music with a decidedly modern sensibility. There's fiddle, banjo, bones, jug, guitar and vocals that I can only call celebratory.
The title cut is a great place to start. It gives me chills every time. After than, listen to "Hit 'Em Up Style," the band's cover of Blu Cantrell's 2003 hip-hop hit and you'll have a good idea of their magnificent reach.
Three songs on my radar via various friends' Facebook postings are:
Iggy Pop's hilariously ironic sneering on the Teddybears' "Punkrocker." It reminds why I was delighted when I saw Joan Jett cover his "I Wanna Be Your Dog."
Both versions of Dan Hicks' "I Scare Myself" - the original, with its eerie violin part and emotive vocal, and Thomas Dolby's cover, which is all jazzy, lush and cool.
And Damian (the most interesting of Bob's kids) Marley doing "Hey Girl." His writing makes me want to listen to lyrics again.
Fred Strickland, vocals and bass - In my earlier years, I was thoroughly steeped - marinated really - in blues, country, and old rock 'n' roll. The waves of musical innovation in decades since have led me to the belief that the unchanging goal is to express human universals, human essence with greater clarity - or in a fresh style - or both. So, nowadays, I might revisit some older masters - say Freddie King ("I'm Tore Down") or B.B. King, Albert King, Otis Spann, King Curtis or Stevie Ray.
Then, I'll turn to current artists like The Downchild Blues Band or Ann Rabson.
In the realm of country, it's hard to beat the likes of Merle and George and Willie for looking life in the eye without blinking.
Some come close, like Ricky Van Shelton ("I'll Leave this World Loving You") or Dwight Yoakam ("Try Not to Look So Pretty").
Then there are folks like James McMurtry ("Hurricane Party," "The Governor," "Cheyney's Toy"), who isn't exactly country but who takes the unblinking gaze to a whole new level. And, of course, there's k.d. Lang ("Curious Soul Astray") who manages to be tough and wistful at the same time.
(from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette 5/27/2010)