“So Far So Good”
“So Far So Good” is Peter Veteska’s sixth disc in eight years, quite a remarkable output for someone who runs a fulltime architectural detailing business. In this collection of 12 tunes, Peter has really come into his own voice, which conveys the emotion of the songs and blends well with guest vocalists Jenny Barnes, Mikey Junior, and Chuck Lambert. Eight of the tracks were written by Peter, including the opener, “Done with Bad Luck,” which drummer Alex D’Agnese introduces with a machinegun-like volley, and the song just soars from there, including guest harp by our own board member Gary Neuwirth.
Alex has been with Peter since Blues Train was formed and is well respected and in demand on the Jersey Shore. In Coo Moe Jhee, an outstanding bassist in his own right, Peter has found a rhythm section with a deep musical connection that to me, helps to make this his finest collection of songs to date.
The other major contributor, Jeff Levine, plays a range of keyboard styles which work seamlessly with Peter’s guitar solos, giving great texture to the songs. On “I’ve Got the Blues This Morning,” Jeff’s piano and Peter’s crooning vocals conjure up a smoky bar where a patron is lamenting love lost to whoever will listen. The opening cell phone ring on “I Miss You So,” the first non-original, was written by Nashville’s premier African-American broadcaster, Morgan Babb, has Jenny Barnes giving her lover the third degree. Jeff Levine’s tasty organ fills, the sold rhythm section keeping the beat, and Mikey Junior’s wailing harp make this song a winning cover.
On “My One and Only Muse,” Mikey’s harp is out front, with Peter displaying his considerable guitar skills and Jeff’s organ dances all over this tune. “Young Bold Woman,” written by James Cotton and Tom Hambridge, features Mikey Junior on both harmonica and vocals. It starts out with a Latin beat, but turns into down and dirty blues with Peter and Chuck Lambert taking verses with Mikey then all joining in on the final stanza.
“Lovin’ Oven” is a thinly-disguised metaphor for the union between lovers and is punctuated by guest harpist Derek “Slim” Matteson, as well as Jeff’s sensational organ and Peter’s hot guitar licks. Another cover, “You Give Me Nothing but The Blues,” was released by Guitar Slim in the mid-fifties and here features the give and take of Jenny Barnes and Peter, which I would sum up with the phrase “you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.” Here, in addition to the band, we get a superb horn section featuring Tommy LaBella on sax, Steve Jankowski on trumpet and Doug DeHays on baritone sax. Things slow way down with “Low Down Dirty Blues,” a soulful number with Jeff’s church-inspired organ and Peter’s restrained but effective guitar complementing his vocals. The last of the songs not written by Peter, “Baby Please,” starts with rollicking blues piano leading the way, with Peter and Mikey Junior sharing the vocals while laying down some wonderful harp solos. Peter again demonstrates his ability to choose songs not often covered that work well for him. “East Coast Blues” is given a different sound with the addition of some distinctive slide guitar by Paul Boddy, leader of the band the Slidewinders. His slide harkens back to some of the best work by Johnny Winter.
With members and guests from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, this song encapsulates the scope of the project. “So Far So Good” is the singer talking about how another in a long string of relationships is going. Peter, a man who works with wood for a living, sings about the two fitting like “tongue and groove.” The last song “Can’t We All Get Along” is Peter’s cry, urging us to “find some common ground” in this crazy world we live in. Jeff’s organ emphasizes the theme of the song. It’s a fitting ending to a collection of songs which I would say so far are much more than good.
Editor’s Note: If you are a member musician and have recorded music, please send us a link to be considered for a review and for a new project, JSJBF Jukebox that will stream on the Foundation website.