Joe Taino’s Blue Collar Blues

By Tom Baldino

Board member Joseph Riggio’s J v ARCHER ENTERTAINMENT joint has made good on his promise to bring to the Jersey Shore great blues artists from outside the area, and this show surely did not disappoint. With the always crowd-pleasing Incinerators featuring “Miss Kimmie” hosting the night, those in attendance were treated to another fine set of blues standards, as they led off with Howlin Wolf’s “Built For Comfort” and Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy.” Guitarists John Fernandez and Rich Coccoli are a study in contrasting styles that mesh wonderfully within the framework of the songs they played. Steve Smith on bass and Chris Martell on drums drive those compositions with intensity and purpose, while Miss Kimmie brings a physical excitement to the songs she is featured on. Then there is Gary Neuwirth, who’s harmonica fills those songs with that earthy blues flavor that completes the musical package. 

After a brief interlude, Joe Taino and his band kicked off their set with a swinging instrumental version of the country tune “Honky Tonk.” Joe, a superb guitarist and vocalist, who has shared the stage with many of the most famous people in our business, was joined by Angelo Oliveri on bass, Dan Castagno on drums and vocals, with Mark Swanek on harp. The song that told me they were not your average blues band was their version of J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight.” Everyone knows Clapton’s popular rendition of the song, but Joe’s finger-picking gave it a new and exciting almost jazz like sound while not straying far from the original.  Next, Mark joined them for a rousing version of “Further on Up the Road.” Joe’s playing, complemented by Angelo’s slap bass, a style reminiscent of Tim Bogert, with some inspired harp, really made the song jump off the stage. About half-way through the set, Joe turned the vocals over to Dan, who sang two original compositions with the highlight being “Flat Tire Shuffle.” As a member of the Puerto Rico Blues Hall of Fame, Joe talked about one of his favorite homeland venues, Shannon’s Irish Pub, which got a laugh out of the crowd. He also mentioned that he doesn’t use a tuner for his Strat, but tunes by ear or sometimes by holding it by his head and using the vibrations. Now, I know what Brian Wilson meant by “Good Vibrations!” 

 Then Joe pulled out the slide, and the evening moved to a whole new level with Elmore James’ “Must Have Done Somebody Wrong.” Two songs most closely associated with Jimi Hendrix, Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster” and Jimi’s “Wind Cries Mary” were stellar versions that would stand up against the originals. They finished with Howlin Wolf’s classic, “Commit a Crime” which rocked the house. It was another great night of blues featuring a band that hasn’t played these parts in many years. Bravo Joseph Riggio, keep those great bands coming.