Gary hails from Long Island, that’s like near NYC, but not quite. He didn’t pick up a guitar till he was seventeen, which led him to discover the Blues scene on ‘the Island’ – no chuckles, it’s always been pretty active. Loaded with his little black and white marbled note book, jotting down this and that, Gary worked the clubs learning like a sponge. Finally legendary LI blues man, Sam Taylor decided that the ‘boy with the book’ needed somew real Blues mentoring. This brings us to Gary’s second release.
‘Chewin’ Ice’ is a tune Gary and Sam wrote and it’s a killah track. Funky, super lyrics and Gary sets up behind the groove and gives us a super track to start us off. Interesting to me this has a Tommy Castro feel to it.
His treatment of the Stevie Wonder hit ‘Living For The City’ turns it from the keyboard driven, funky familiar tune to a jazzy slow-burner complete with background vocals. It’s always cool to see a young guy take on a classic and really put his stamp on it, Gary accomplishes this without a doubt.
One other big fav of mine is ‘Sideshow Blues’, you have to check out the lyrics and the way he treats this Todd Snider composition.
Gary is a highly skilled local Long Island musician, we need to keep supporting honest, hard playing guys like him (and others whom we all know) who have talent and drive and might just need a break, he is enjoyable and a promising young player.
Soul Apparatus is the strongest album to date from a guitar slinger who is a stalwart and regular member of the local scene. He wails in a funky soul groove that has alot of T-bone Walker and was the alter ego to Sam Taylor for as long as he was here on LI. Tutored and mentored by Sam, Gary has developed his vocals to a growl and a sneer and a throaty tear filled cry. Sellers is supported by the best sidemen the island has to offer like Mario Staiano on skins, Gerry Sorrentino and Dan Travis on bass, Danny Kean's unmistakable keys and vocals as well as backing vocals from the late Sam. Covering a whole range of soulful blues, Gary shows a frim grasp on how to pour out his essence. Two cuts were written with Sam and Gary's axe makes the rest his own including Stevie Wonder's "Living For the City" with great Wes Montgomery jazzlines. His own "Done Sold Everything" which would fit right into Rick Estrin's snide smile and toothy lear and "Sideshow Blues" is a witty commentary on today's world. Love has Sellers hogtied and tortured from "It Don't Hurt No More" through "Beer Drinking Woman" to "Let's Straighten It Out" to "That Did It." Taylor tried to give young Sellers good advice via "Slow and Steady" but I don't think the young stud listened as the malty tart emptied his wallet and lying forced the end of another relationship. Gary has always been a fine fretman and to that cred, he is adding excellent vocals and songwriting. He's worth the shoe leather necessary to see him play live and the ducats to purchase this platter. A very nice disk.
Mark "Doctor Blues" Gresser
Guitarist Gary Sellers has a depth of passion, and a delicate touch at melding styles, that belies his youth. Clearly, though, Sellers has done his homework. Listening to his new recording Soul Apparatus, you hear Gregg Allman in Sellers' vocal delivery, and a playing style that melds both the blues stylings of T-Bone Walker and the jazzy plucking of Wes Montgomery. There's also no small amount of Sam Taylor, the late Long Island blues legend who eventually produced Seller's solo debut, Young Man with the Blues. Taylor also wrote two songs and provides backing vocals here, completing the circle.
Things get off to a fast start, as Sellers becomes so smitten in the opening "Chewin' Ice" that he even likes the way a love interest works over an ice cube. There's a crisp blues groove for Sellers to sing and then solo over. The group, all respected members of the Long Island scene, includes keyboardist Danny Kean, bassist Dan Travis and drummer Mario Staiano. But Sellers doesn't stay down in the blues groove for long. An update of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" follows, with Sellers turning the 1970s-era electric keyboard-driven soul song in a spacious slow burn. A rollicking group of backing vocalists swish and sway behind him, giving the tune a sleek sensuality. Seller's solo, lithe and jazzy, then propels the song into a gallop. Wonder's lyric on the difficulties of breaking out of poverty's cycle, given a full reading here, still ring true.
Next, in a big to stave off the taxman, Sellers runs down a list of pawned items on the gritty "Done Sold Everything," which stomps along at a pace that approaches Bo Diddley's rhythms. "Sideshow" opens with a nasty funk-inspired wah-wah groove, as Sellers complains about the every-day annoyances that seem to consume us. "It's a circus out here, mama," Sellers finally surmises, "and your baby's got the sideshow blues."
Sellers settles into this scalding blues gait for "Don't Hurt No More," a song where a scorned lover begins by proudly announcing his new relationship. That bravado quickly dissolves into familiar pain, though. "If I had known, honey, right from the start that you'd leave me with this broken heart," Sellers slowly sighs, even as he wails away on guitar, "then I wouldn't have given my whole, whole life to you." A stop-start R&B groove powers "Slow and Steady," which is peppered with old-fashioned braggadocio about sexual prowess. Sellers then tangles majestically with Kean's talkative organ work. "Beer Drinking Woman" begins with an ominous intro, straight of TV's Dragnet, followed by a voiceover to match. "The story is true, ladies and gentlemen," Sellers intones, "only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." Sellers and Co., smirks all over their faces, then move into an insistent roadhouse-shaking rhythm. He goes on to retell the story of a night spent at a local tavern with a woman who drank up all of his spending money.
Then Sellers, up late with a tossing-and-turning partner, spends "Let's Straighten It Out" trying to figure out how things have gone so wrong. He sings with all the winking bravado of the great chitlin'-circuit soul singers, using the title of the song both as bargaining chip and innuendo.
"That Did It, Baby," presented in the surging style of a country blues, finds Seller's character at the very end of his rope. After listing a series of previous grievances, none of which ever shook his resolve ("I didn't quit you baby; I hung on like a vine"), there comes the final straw: "I saw your other man wearing my brand-new shoes."
To close, Sellers channels the sweet soul of Sam Cooke – a final, most successful amalgamation of the blues and R&B idioms – on the lightly swinging "Dark End of the Street," a song about forbidden love.
Review You, Ariel Publicity
Blues artists on today's scene often walk a fine line with their music between keeping things traditional, satisfying long-time fans of the genre, and spicing things up with some new and inventive playing, giving fans from other genres something to grab onto and enjoy. While some artists may attempt to stretch beyond the traditional blues forms, harmonies and melodic material and fail, others are able to find just the right mix of new and old to take their music to the next level, while appealing to a much broader audience at the same time. The blues artists who can do this, and play at a level that impresses their fellow bluesmen and instrumentalists are truly rare in today's day and age, but they do exist. Guitarist Gary Sellers is one such musician who can mix classic blues sounds with influences from other genres, while keeping his playing at the highest level and his album Soul Apparatus is a showcase for his high level of musicianship and ability to fully engage an audience with his music.
One can hear Sellers' fresh approach to the Blues right from the intro solo on the album's first track, "Chewin' Ice". Here, the guitarist kicks off the tune with some tasty minor blues licks, pretty standard fare for a song of this style, but, right at the end of the solo he kicks in a sweet major blues lick, taking advantage of mixing the minor blues scale with the major triad, causing the line to jump out of the speakers and grab the listener by the ears, then holding them firmly until the song is over. The track "Living for the City" also showcases the guitarist's penchant for finding the right "outside" notes, raising the intensity of solos while providing ear candy for his audience at the same time. In this instance, Sellers again begins his solo in the blues vein, though he mixes in some tasty jazz-like phrases as well. Then, just when the audience thinks they now what's coming next, he breaks out an ascending lick featuring double-chromatic approach tones, borrowing a page from the bebop jazz book and showcasing his musical versatility at the same time. It is moments like these that raise the album above the crowded modern Blues scene and allow it to stand on its own, while maintaining one foot firmly planted in the tradition at the same time.
Sellers also stretches beyond the traditional Blues vocabulary with the grooves and feels that he chooses for some of his songs. Tracks such as "Dark End of the Street" feature a killer reggae feel that not only fits perfectly with on a Blues album, but it also begs the question, "Why don't other Blues players experiment with this type of groove more often?" Other songs such as "Don't Hurt No More" are presented in a more traditional Blues vibe, but with Sellers there is always a twist and his use of jazz harmonies and melodic movement during the song again act as creative catalysts, raising the band's performance to new and exciting levels of interest. By exploring new harmonic, melodic and rhythmic territory in his playing, while keeping enough classic Blues to satisfy veteran listeners, Sellers successfully walks the line between old and new, providing an engaging and satisfying listening experience to listener's from all walks of life and musical tastes. At the same time, his playing is absolutely first rate, giving guitarists and Blues aficionados plenty of tasty licks and chord work to enjoy. Soul Apparatus is a great album by a great musician, definitely one of the most interesting Blues records in recent memory.
Review You, Ariel Publicity