St. Louis is famous for a lot of things. My fondest sports memory as a boy was being at Crosley Field in Cincinnati on Stan Musial Day, and you would certainly be hard pressed to find someone as loved in St. Louis as Stan the Man. Then there is food, you have not lived until you been to The Hill, the old Italian district. I am pretty certain you cannot find a bad meal of any kind there. And then there is music. Long a hotbed of blues and rock music, St. Louis has at times been the home base of blues artists like Ike Turner, Albert King, Milton Campbell and more modern players like Mike Zito.
Shortly after Mike Zito and Guy Hale founded Gulf Coast Records they came back to St. Louis and signed blues/rock guitarist Tony Campanella to record for their label. A +25 year veteran of the St. Louis music scene, Campanella is a diverse and powerful guitarist who is equal doses of blues, blues/rock, and classic rock. He is also a more than capable vocalist unlike some other players of this caliber. He blends the sting of Albert King, the sway of Robert Cray, with the clout of Walter Trout and for good measure adds in some solos that are reminiscent of the atomic mastery that was Gary Moore and is Buddy Whittington. Mr. Campanella is in short, quite an impressive addition to the Gulf Coast label.
This CD is a pretty heavy dose of powerhouse guitar, so if that is not your bag you probably need move on. However, if you are like most of our readers here this is going to be your steak and baked potato. The set opens up with the title track and it is hard driving, smoldering, and molten blues/rock. Campanella’s rhythm section is excellent but it is his ax front and center all the way. The songs are all very well done and hard to pick favorites, however I would point you to the stinging Albert King like “Finger on Your Trigger”, the slow blues burner “Mr. Cleanhead” (being “scalp gifted” I can relate to this one), and perhaps my favorite track is the Gary Moore like “One Foot in the Blues” where the MAN plays the AX. Campanella plays with such emotion on this song that I had to hit my inhaler a couple of times. There is a long and very intense guitar break that made me shout “YEAH!” a couple times during the playback.
Not to overlook the supporting players, Terry Dry on bass and Matt Johnson on drums are a rock solid rhythm section. Add in the fine keyboard work of Lewis Stephens and cameos by Mr. Zito himself and you have the recipe for something tastier than you can find on The Hill in St. Louis.
“Taking It To The Street” is available online at www.tonycampanella.com. Make sure you stop by and visit him online for tour dates and future upcoming releases. I am certain there are many more excellent recordings to come in the future of Tony Campanella.
Tony Campanella-Guitar, vocals
Terry Dry-Bass guitar
Lewis Stephens-Piano, organ, Wurlitzer
1. Taking It To The Street
2. Pack It Up
3. One Foot In The Blues
4. You Don’t Know
5. Good Morning Little School Girl
6. Finger On The Trigger
7. Mr. Cleanhead
8. Checking On My Baby
9. Texas Chainsaw
10. My Motor’s Running
11. Those Are The Times
2019 Gulf Coast Records
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