By, Tom Baldino
On a cold night in early December, some hot blues was served at JSJBF member venue, The Chubby Pickle. First up, the hosts for the evening, the Bob DelRosso Band, took the stage and set the bar high for the featured performers, Seba. Board member and event producer, Joseph Vincent Riggio, introduced this power trio consisting of Bob DelRosso on guitar, his long-time bass player Alan Lefton, and the newest member, drummer Greg Manion. They kicked off their set with the Fleetwood Mac version of Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and followed it up with the Jimi Hendrix take on “Hey Joe.” The band was tight, and Bob’s searing leads anchored by Alan’s solid bass lines were propelled by Greg’s rock steady beat. The old Hound Dog Taylor tune “Give Me Back My Wig,” was given a fresh arrangement that was appreciated by the crowded room. One of the highlights of the set was the band’s version of John Hiatt’s “Feels Like Rain.” Bob’s impassioned vocals made this powerful ballad a great choice. Before they started, Alan told me he had a surprise for me, and when he pulled out his Gibson EB-3 bass, made famous by Jack Bruce, I knew some Cream was in order. They did not disappoint with Cream’s version of a song first recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks, “Sitting On Top of the World.” After a terrific rendition of ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” they finished with a soulful take on Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”
Sebastian Nigro, a young up and coming talent on guitar, first became known to us when he showed up at a Colts Neck Inn jam about a year ago. He had just released his first CD, SEBA, with his band of the same name. When I first saw him at the jam, I thought someone who has a portrait of Jimi Hendrix tattooed on his left forearm and plays a cream-colored Stratocaster upside down and backwards better be able to back up that look with his sound. I was impressed with his playing then, but hearing him on this night with his band doing original tunes mixed in with some well-chosen covers was a revelation. A trio on this night, he was joined by Lavondo Thomas on bass and Vinnie Presite on drums.
They opened with Santana’s “Europa,” one of Carlos’ most beautiful and soulful numbers, and he made that six-string cry, evoking the original but with fluid lead breaks that were his own. While Jimi was on his arm, Carlos was in his soul. The next tune an original called “Insane,” included an excellent slide riff and some inspired leads that propelled the song between lyrics which was ably backed by a tight rhythm section. He then tackled my favorite Jeff Beck tune, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” a song which was dedicated to the late Roy Buchanan by his long-time friend, composer Stevie Wonder, as an apology to Jeff for releasing “Superstition” before the Beck, Bogert & Appice recording. Again, he played with the intensity and passion which is needed, but also put his own stamp on it.
“A Cure From You,” a new original, had a great riff and showed the band has been honing their craft with plenty of fine tuning. Dipping into the Santana songbook again for “Corazon Espinado,” Sebastian sang it in his native tongue, which was how this beautiful song was meant to be sung. Marc Swersky, a music industry professional who attended this show and was a judge at our IBC in October, was so impressed with his playing that he has become a mentor. In fact, Sebastian debuted a new song this evening, “Moving On Adelante,” which was co-written by Marc. Another original “Lights Are One,” was Hendrix-inspired but not copied which is meant as a compliment to Sebastian’s playing and song writing ability. Keep an eye out for Seba, and you can catch them at the Bitter End, where they have a regularly scheduled gig.