Dave Keyes – Rhythm, Blues & Boogie

By Tom Baldino

Back in July, Dave Keyes played Bands by the Beach and we spoke prior to the gig. He told me they were working on a new CD that would be out soon. After listening to the band play several of the forthcoming cuts live, I was excited to hear the finished product. It took until October 21st for the release on the Blue Hart label, but we caught up again a month later at the Reading Blues Fest where Dave was doing two solo performances at the American Bistro bar. I had the pleasure of listening to many of the cuts there, but when I got home and listened to the disc with the band and all the top-notch musicians who accompanied him, I was truly impressed.

Dave has been a mainstay on the New York/New Jersey music scene for many years, playing with David Johansen and Popa Chubby, just to name a few. He has traveled the world and opened for or played with the best of the blues world. His seventh CD, “Rhythm, Blues & Boogie,” showcases both his keyboard skills and song writing prowess. Nine of the ten tunes were written by him, with the lone cover by one of Dave’s musical heroes, Willie Nelson.

The opening track, “Shake Shake Shake,” is a swinging number with the master of the drums, Bernard Purdie, lending his shuffle, and the horn section of Chris Eminizer on sax and Tim Ouimette on trumpet laying down an infectious arrangement. Add to that Dave’s spirited piano and vocals makes this song one that will shake the bad times away. The second cut, “That’s What the Blues Are For,” is what Dave referred to at the Reading Blues Fest as “the first single off the CD,” and after listening it I would have to agree. With another great horn arrangement, and solos by guitarist John Putnam and Dave, this song highlights his ability to marry great lyrics with a killer melody.

Blues and Boogie,” features Early Times on guitar and extols the virtues of this music to cure what ails you. It sounds like most of the folks listed in the special thanks section of the CD jacket are on background vocals making some joyous noise! The Willie Nelson classic “Funny How Times Slips Away,” is just Dave and his piano. It’s a timeless rendition of a song that pays homage to one of the musical giants of the twentieth century.

Ain’t Doing That No More” opens with Bernard’s signature drum volley that says, we’re going to New Orleans. When the band kicks in and the horns come over the top, we are in the French Quarter with Dave singing about a lover that displays a pattern of doing him wrong, but he sees the light, hence the title. Another great backbeat propels “Ain’t Going Down,” an anthem of fighting through life’s troubles with resolve. A nice guitar solo by John punctuates Dave’s earnest singing about doing the right thing, no matter the cost. “WBGO Boogie” salutes that public radio bastion of jazz with Dave solo on his piano pounding out a Boogie Woogie that could have been played in the Twenties by Meade Lux Lewis or Albert Ammons. “Not Fighting Anymore” features Popa Chubby on guitar and my good friend Frank Pagano on drums. Frank also plays all percussion on the disc as well as other background vocals. The lyrics portray a man who has become wise over the years and realizes when he’s in a losing battle. Great advice to follow in life! The penultimate track “Invisible Man,” adds special guest Doug MacLeod on some tasty acoustic guitar and spoken wisdom, explaining the truth of the matter in the song title, the way young women react to older men.

“7 O’Clock Somewhere” was written during the pandemic as a tribute to all the heroes on the frontline. John lays down a fine guitar track over Frank’s drums and Dave’s impassioned playing and singing are a plea to end this madness by doing the right thing. It’s a fitting ending to a great collection of songs by some of the best players in the area, or anywhere else. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy or download the tracks at www.davekeyes.com .