Charlie Apicella Brings the Band to Red Bank

Charlie Apicella band

Charlie Apicella and Iron City kick off Memorial Day Weekend!

On a beautiful Friday night, which kicked off the Memorial Day weekend, Charlie Apicella and Iron City were the featured act at this month’s Reckless Steamy Nights. With Charlie on guitar, William Gorman on organ, and Austin Walker on drums, the only thing steamy on this evening was Madame Pat Tandy on vocals. A full house was witness to some scintillating hard bop jazz along with some rollicking blues and modern standards.

The night began with a beautiful version of the instrumental “Song of the Soul,” with both Charlie and William shining on their solos. Madame Pat joined the trio with a song popularized by B.B. King, “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” and the evening took off from there. It was followed by the Irene Reid tune, “I’ll Take You Back,” a simmering blues number that featured Madame Pat’s vocals and some organ work from William which would have made Charles Earland proud. Another more up-tempo Irene Reid song, “One Eyed Man,” matched the inspired fret work of Charlie against the powerful vocals of Madame Pat. The instrumental “Idris” was as Charlie explained, dedicated to drummer Idris Muhammad who, at 16 years old, was the drummer on Fats Domino’s hit “Blueberry Hill”. The set ended on a high note with their rousing interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”.

The second set opened like the first with and instrumental, “Lemon Rind,” which allowed the trio to show those in attendance their considerable vocal chops. Charlie then spoke of one of his mentors, jazz guitar great Pat Martino, who left us in 2021. One year later he was asked to play at a memorial for Pat which touched him deeply, and they then proceed to play on of Pat’s compositions, “Lean Years,” which included an outstanding drum solo by Austin. With only a snare, cymbals, and a cajon which was rigged to a kick pedal behind him, he made it sound like a full kit. Madame Pat returned to the spotlight with the Nancy Wilson number, “Save Your Love For Me,” followed the Al Green classic “Let’s Stay Together.” Next was a terrific version of Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” replete with lyrics (which were later added by a variety of lyricists). Charlie then got a laugh out of the audience with the story of his first and last trip to the recording studio to do an original number, “Sparks,” which the band then performed. After some discussion, Madame Pat won out, and the final number, a signature tune of hers entitled “Back it Up,” brought the night to an end, or did it? They segued into a few stanzas of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You,” a perfect way to end the evening. 

Charlie will be appearing at the Blue Note on July 2nd with Juma Sultan, who played congas for Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Sounds like a great show.