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CD Reviews
The Boa Constructors
“Live at Callahan’s Music Hall”
No Cover Productions
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Live performances and the recording of the same are the measure of a musician's chops.Wonders can be done in the studio that the nakedness of the stage just doesn't offer. This is the real deal, blemishes and all.

The Boa Constrictors are one of the most enjoyable live bands in town and this disc, recorded at Callahan's, captures that energy splendidly. A good mix of originals and classics, it's all about energy; exciting and full-on energy. From the opener, Rock This House, its apparent that they had (have) more than enough talent and excitement to rock the full house on that autumn night in 2012.

Carl Caballero's harp is front and center throughout. Whether on the Butterfield-type jam of Telephone or the aptly titled Hurricane, both Caballero originals, or the hard blow on Born In Chicago, he impresses. Glenn James' lead work is likewise solid. He's a workingman's guitarist who makes sure everything is painted just so. Kirk Barkel's keyboard work is stellar throughout, adding rhythm and riffs like a taste enhancer. Add the rhythm team of Steve Allen and Pete Berg's bass and drums and it's as solid a foundation as any band in town.

Their takes on Hound Dog Taylor's Gimme Back My Wig, John Lee Hooker's You're Wrong and the Motown classic, Papa Was a Rolling Stone are reinvented and well executed. Their version of Bruce Springsteen's Small Things may be the standout tune in this program already heavy with standouts. Its rockabilly groove is a natural for the fellas, who are comfortable playing blues or classic rock and roll beats. This is a fine recording top to bottom.


Mark Gallo

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Some of the most popular bands in our area are what may be described as party bands.  These are the ones that have a heart pounding rhythm section coupled with a blazing lead guitar and vocalist with a wild man on harmonica.   They get the crowd out on the dance floor and rock the house.  The Boa Constrictors are high on that list.  Often that spirit of a live performance does not translate well to the recordings.  Callahan’s sound man Peter Jay captures it oh so well.  This ain’t your daddy’s blues.  This one rocks the blues for sure.
Carl Caballero has been one of this writer’s long-time favorite harmonica men.  He first came to our attention back at the old Sisko’s on the Boulevard in Taylor in the nineties when he was performing with The Sharecroppers of Soul.   His vocals exhibit a soulful blues confidence that make him a fan favorite.  Guitarist Glenn James, also with that band back in the day, shares most leads along with Caballero in this collection and shows a great sense as to where to do what.   Remember the pounding rhythm section mentioned earlier?  Thanks go out to Pete Berg on drums, bass man Steve Allen and to Kirk Barkel on piano for giving this collection a bottom line heart beat that will not quit.  Do not plan to sit idly by while enjoying this album as your body will feel the definite urge to get ta movin’.
Caballero does lead vocals on all but two songs.  He leads off the set with a wild blues cover tune Rock This House featuring his wailing harmonica along with heavy James guitar riffs.  Next up is a Caballero original titled Hurricane.  This medium tempo song has a gritty/swampy harmonica moan to compliment his vocals.  Do not get relaxed as a cover of Born in Chicago is next and Caballero wails on this one.   Glenn James takes the lead vocal on You’re Wrong, again featuring that heavy, heavy rhythm section.  Bass man Steve Allen sings lead on Gimme Back My Wig, or as he describes it, a follicle deprived song.  This is another foot stomper and features the deft fingers of Kirk Barkel dancing across the piano keys.  Carl takes the rest of the lead vocals starting with Telephone, another Caballero original.  This is the only slow rolling blues number and it hits a homerun with this writer.  Deep in Spider’s library is a 45rpm featuring The Diamonds doing Little Darling.  Carl and the guys revive it with serious attitude.  Just to smack the listener up side the head again My Babe is next, another rocker.  A touch of soul blended with a heavy beat is the band’s rendition of Papa Was A Rolling Stone.  Ending the collection is Small Things adding a flavor of high energy rock-a-billy to the mix.
The Boa Constrictors have a winner here.  The fine hand of Peter Jay has recorded and mastered a smashing set of music by these talented musicians.  Get this one for your library and then grab the chips, the dips, your favorite beverage and party down my friends.
Wolfgang Spider
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