By, Tom Baldino
Peter Karp started life and his career in New Jersey and played our Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival back in the early days. He then made Nashville his home for about twenty years, but recently has returned to the Garden State. He graciously agreed to play Reckless Steamy Nights on short notice, and everyone who attended the show was glad he did. Along with his “Jersey” band, Paul Carbonara on guitar, Joe Vigliotti on standup and electric bass and Mike Tichy on drums, they put on one of the most entertaining shows we have had there in a long time.
Peter spent the majority of the time at his keyboard and singing but he did play guitar both seated and standing during the evening. The two sets they played drew from the extensive catalog of songs Peter has written over the years, with several coming from his most recent excellent collection, Magnificent Heart. “Dirty Weather,” a shuffle, allowed the band to warm up their considerable talents. “Runnin” showcased Peter’s inspired piano, while “I Understand” had that NOLA sound which got the audience moving. For “Sitting On the Edge,” from Magnificent Heart, he played guitar along with Paul and on “The Letter,” not the tune by the Boxtops, but also from that CD, he mentioned that an old girlfriend was sitting in the back of the room. Then the band kicked into a funky beat which made for a great live version of the song. He told a story about how spending some in his formative years in an “Alabama Town,” inspired him to write the song. Peter then left the keyboard, guitar in hand, and went around the room, winding up at said ex’s table for some great soloing. “The Turning Point” was a beautiful slow blues which featured a soulful guitar solo by Paul, who we were told, did a stint in Red Bank resident Debbie Harry’s band. “Air Fuel & Fire,” recalled Peter’s 1967 Bonneville and the hard driving (pun intended) tune was a great way to end the set.
The second set started with the beautiful ballad “Her and My Blues,” while “Train O’ Mine,” a mid tempo tune, picked up the pace. “Fate” was a gospel influenced number which highlighted the band’s tight harmony and included some beautiful acapella singing. Before starting the song ”Faith,” Peter talked about drawing inspiration from the great philosophers, then proceeded to say this one was for Clint Eastwood! His playing, to me, seemed more inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis than Clint. The band didn’t let up on “I’m Going Home,” and “Baby Hold Tight” had the room clapping along and grooving to the rhythmic beat. They slowed it down for the heartfelt ballad “I’m Not Giving Up” and then he asked our board member Gary Neuwirth to join them on harp for the closer, “Till You Get Home,” coupled with “Let It Be.” Everyone got a chance to stretch out here with solos by Paul on guitar, Joe on bass and Mike on drums. They all acquitted themselves nicely, when Peter turned to Gary to blow some harp. It was so good that Peter, with a big smile on his face, motioned him to take another round. When they transitioned to “Let It Be,” the band took it to another level and Gary played an incredibly melodic solo. After they finished to a standing ovation, Gary confided to me that he had never played that Beatles tune before, but you never would have known it.
It was a special night, marking Peter’s return to his roots, and those of us who were lucky enough to have seen him, hope he stays around for good.