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Southside Johnny & the Poor Fools, Sharp Theater, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ: I got a soul that I won’t sell January 27, 2012

Posted by Anton A in American music, Southside Johnny.
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Southside Johnny began a new performance project late last year, dubbed Southside Johnny and The Poor Fools. They’ve played ten shows now; more are scheduled in between Jukes gigs. The new venture delves into the sort of acoustic-electric roots rock / Americana that one might associate with The Band, Bob Dylan, latter-day Hot Tuna, and various Brothers acts (Wood Brothers, Felice Brothers). It’s both a departure from Jukes music and a natural extension of Johnny’s catalog.

 

With the Poor Fools, Johnny performs more songs by other artists than with the Jukes, as well as imaginative reworkings of his own material. The endeavor sheds new light on Johnny’s roots and adds perspective to the familiar tunes; the segue from Spanish Harlem into I Don’t Want To Go Home, for instance, lets you hear directly the relationship between the two songs, in particular the bass line.

 

 

The Poor Fools started out last year with current Jukes Jeff Kazee on keys

 

 

 

and John Conte on bass,

 

 

 

 

plus guitarist Tommy Byrnes (music director and guitarist with Billy Joel) and violinist Soozie Tyrell.

With Soozie off preparing for the upcoming Springsteen tour, Neal Pawley has stepped in from the Jukes to play guitar, mandolin, banjo, drums and occasional trombone.

 

 

Everyone in the Fools plays pretty much everything at some point in the evening; as my friend Mike said, these guys are “scary talented.”

 

 

 

 

 

They all took turns on the drums except for Johnny (it’s rumored that he has some talent even there but we weren’t to have that treat).

 

 

Johnny played bass on one song,

 

 

 

 

Tommy Byrnes hit the keyboards on a couple of tunes,

 

 

 

Jeff Kazee stepped out on accordion a few times….

 

 

 

It’s an amazing display of musicianship.

 

 

 

The set list:

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Postcards from Hell, Cross That Line, All the Way Home, Little Calcutta, Love on the Wrong Side of Town, Down Home Girl/Something You Got, Can’t Let Go, Aint No Free, Beneath Still Waters, Bartender’s Blues, Ophelia, The Fever, Spanish Harlem/I Don’t Want to Go Home, Umbrella in My Drink, Rosa. Comes to Me Naturally, Strange Strange Feeling, Trapped Again

encore:

Walk away Renee, My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine and Dandelion Wine).

The Poor Fools are a quieter, more laid back experience than a Jukes show, but no less engaging or soul-satisfying. I can tell that this outfit is going to be as essential to my psyche as the Jukes are these days. I look forward to many more shows.

 

More photos, 75 in all, can be found here.