John’s Blues Picks June 2015 – Soulstack “Soulstack”
Soulstack Soulstack (Self) | www.soulstack.com
This Kitchener-based band has not played in Toronto very often so when they were invited to play the Blues Summit Opening Reception, they seized the opportunity. Their fiery set was a stunning opening to the weekend. And they’ve just announced that they’ll be back – they’ll be releasing their new, third, disc on June 18th at the official launch of their Thursday residency at The Orbit Room on College St. The B3 there will no doubt be featured prominently.
Soulstack was formed in 2011 by Jonathan Knight who’s on vocals & guitar, and keyboardist Mark Wessenger. The lineup since then has included drummer Tom Bona, who’s played with Sue Foley, David Wilcox and of course, the Maple Blues Band; bassist Darryl “Harpo” Peterson and most recently, baritone guitarist Chris Latta. A frequent special guest is the keyboard wiz Matt Weidinger and a unique feature of this band is watching the duelling Marks as they swap solos (and keyboards).
The Summit set showed a very talented band with a powerful, soulful vocalist and they’ve captured this sound in the studio. Just listen to “Just Don’t Call It The Blues” or “Lot of Good Men” or “Poison Headache” – all fine new songs. “(They) Just Don’t Call It The Blues” is a powerful funk workout that just won’t stop. Keyboards lead but no one holds back, these guys came to play! The same holds true for “No Man’s Land”. If the audience isn’t dancing after these two, they’re dead. “(You Left A) Lot of Good Men (in Your Wake)” is only a slightly less powerful song but a good one about staying away from a certain woman. The bluesy “Poison Headache” deals with the problem of a wandering girlfriend, the arrangement features great dynamics and soloing. They do quiet too: “Little Fire Alive” has a lovely group vocal that builds to a climax urging people not to give up on love too soon. “Tip of My Tongue” and “Time Don’t Wait” have that same sense of dynamics and gorgeous arrangements.
The songs are all by Jon Knight & Mark Wessenger and with players of this calibre, I’m sure coming up with the arrangements was fun and obviously productive. They’ll have this beautifully recorded CD with them at the Orbit Room on the 18th, along with a brand new Live Acoustic Show DVD. You should ask them about their recent tour to the Netherlands, their return to the Kitchener Blues Festival and make sure you ask Tom Bona about his new firecracker snare drum.