Patriot Ledger June 16, 2006 SOUTH SHORE OTIS: Anyone who's heard Quincy-based keyboardist and singer Joe Bargar sing with his Soul Providers band, or his larger Soul Kitchen group, knows that he is the closest thing vocally to Otis Redding we're ever likely to hear in these parts. Save your Michael Boltons with their hysterical histrionics, because Bargar with his penultimate grit and authentic soul, not to mention his ineffable cool, trumps the ersatz over-actors every time. The biggest thing to happen to Bargar and his band took one of them away for a spell. New Orleans native Amadee Castenell's saxophone sound is so unique, he was signed to play the Elvis Costello/Allen Toussaint summer tour. By lucky coincidence, the Soul Providers play Harry's Cajun Bar in Hyannis the same night the Costello tour swings through the Cape Cod Melody Tent. There will likely be some reunion time with Castenell at the tiny pub, and Bargar hopes the later set might include a jam session. The Soul Providers' debut CD ''Two Sides'' came out almost two years ago, with a tasty mix of rhythm and blues covers. Available at shows, or through joebargar.com, or cdbaby.com, it has been a consistent seller and earned positive reviews. ...You'll be wondering how Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett managed to be reincarnated into a Quincy piano player. Copyright 2006 The Patriot Ledger Friday, June 16, 2006 Boston Phoenix Editor's pick August 15, 2003 We've judged enough blues battles to wish we'd come across locals Joe Bargar and the Soul Providers a little earlier. On their new self-released Two Sides, they show an unimpeachable taste in covers -- Doc Pomus and Mac 'Dr. John' Rebennack's 'The Night Is a Hunter,' Jerry Ragovoy's 'Ain't Nobody Home,' and a beautiful, slow arrangement of Louis Jordan's 'Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby)' that plays it straight. Bargar's vocals have a rough-grained authority, guitarist Michael Williams plays with detail and restraint, and New Orleans veteran Amadee Castenell (who's recorded with Dr. John, among others) provides the saxophone licks. Boston Herald Sax man brings Hub a shot of Bourbon St. By Larry Katz Wednesday, August 13, 2003 A typical Friday night at the Black Horse Tavern in the basement of Durgin Park in Quincy Market: A few people are eating, a lot more are drinking, and everyone seems reasonably tickled by the live music. It's doubtful anyone in the chatty crowd came just to listen, but that doesn't detract from the band's visible pleasure in the music. Joe Bargar and the Soul Providers are playing a funky mix of classic r & b and blues with a subtlety and panache that is anything but typical of your usual cover band. If a hard-core New Orleans music fan happened to be in house, he could give you one reason these guys are special. The handsome guy onstage blowing tenor sax is Amadee Castenell, a Crescent City horn star who's played with the Neville Brothers, Lee Dorsey and Dr. John, and on many of the recordings produced by the legendary Allen Toussaint in the past 30 years. More recently, Castenell was the featured sax soloist on ''Deacon John's Jump Blues,'' the sensational all-star CD and DVD tribute to undersung New Orleans guitar great Deacon John Moore. All of which begs the question: What is New Orleans' first-call saxman doing playing gigs with singer and pianist Bargar in local bars and clubs? ''For some reason, I'm more relaxed up here,'' Castenell says, sitting in a booth next to Bargar in the Black Horse. ''I lived in New Orleans for 42 years. I worked with Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, everybody. You name 'em, I worked with 'em.'' ''What he's trying to say is that he can't hold a job,'' Bargar cracks. ''I also played 10 years with Chocolate Milk,'' Castenell picks up once he stops laughing. ''We were signed to RCA, had several hit records. We traveled around the world with Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, all these big acts. So I had a pretty wild youth. But then I made the big loop and found myself back on Bourbon Street. And I was bored. Playing on Bourbon Street is a boring job. ''Then I met this woman from Massachusetts who was down in New Orleans on vacation. We got to be friends. A year later I came up to Massachusetts and loved it. I didn't see one flying roach! Loved the climate, too. It's so humid in New Orleans that you don't age. You can't get wrinkled 'cause it's too wet. Ha! But that heat and humidity wear on me. So now I've been married 10 years and I live in Wakefield.'' Does he miss New Orleans? ''I miss the food,'' he says. ''I miss the music. But I got Joe Bargar here. He takes me back to New Orleans every night, so I don't miss it so bad.'' Raised in Providence and now living in Quincy, Bargar is a prime example of the skilled musical journeyman. He's a good enough keyboardist that during the 10 years he lived in New York he got hired to play on Diana Ross's 1982 album ''Silk Electric.'' Since returning to Massachusetts he's paid the bills by playing weddings and the like with the band Soul Kitchen. Three years ago he decided to put together ''something more personal'' so he could perform more of the music he loves. ''Let's face it, you can't play a tune like 'Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home' at a wedding,'' Bargar says. The Soul Providers' lineup boasts such standout area veterans as drummer Kenny Hadley and guitarist Mike Williams. But how did Bargar manage to snag an Amadee Castanell for his combo? ''I was down in New Orleans,'' Bargar says, ''and I met this really nice barmaid in a club. She said, 'Oh, my daddy lives in Boston. You should call him.' Her daddy was Amadee. When I got back home I had a gig and I called him.'' ''And the gig was fun,'' Castenell says. ''Because Joe plays so much New Orleans-flavored music, he knew he was gonna get me hooked. Plus he works with good musicians. Good repertoire with good guys, yeah, that'll hook you.'' In June, Bargar and the Soul Providers self-released their first CD, ''Two Sides,'' available @ cdbaby.com. Eschewing all trendiness, Bargar and company serve up their own takes on such r & b chestnuts as Louis Jordan's ''Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)?'' which is successfully transformed into a plaintive ballad. Bald, bearded and 50, the practical-minded Bargar doesn't fantasize about pop stardom. He's pleased enough to be able to support his family playing the music he digs with some exceptional musicians. And that, to the great good fortune of New England's music lovers, is good enough for his esteemed sax man, too. ''I'm doing what I love and I get to be with friends every time I go to work,'' Castanell says. ''You can't ask for more than that.'' 'Joe Bargar uses his extraordinary voice to put an unexpected twist on standard swing tunes with his group The Soul Providers. -Boston Globe 'Joe Bargar and the Soul Providers took the stage and treated the crowd to a rousing set of authentic Rhythm and Blues' -The Boston Blues Society 'A soulful romp with r&b classics: Bargar-led unit flexes it's muscles.' - The Patriot Ledger Review by N.Jay Miller (for the Patriot Ledger): It's an all-star rhythm and blues lineup that includes gifted sidemen who've backed everyone from James Cotton to Dr. John, and it's led by a singer/keyboardist who got his baptism in r&b in that musical mecca of ..Providence? 'Joe Bargar and the Soul Providers' kept Mount Blue in Norwell jumpin' Friday night with a menu of classic soul and blues chestnuts, all artfully reinterpreted by the stellar quintet's own sensibilities. This is a separate group from the nine-piece horn-fueled unit Bargar leads called 'Soul Kitchen'. Bargar, you see, has this thing about soul and r&b. 'I grew up in Providence with guys like (jazz saxophonist) Scott Hamilton, (blues guitarist) Duke Robillard and (bluesman) Ken Lyon,' Bargar said after Friday's show. 'I've become heavily influenced by New Orleans sounds, and I guess I've progressed from blues to blues-with-a-bridge. With this group (Soul Providers), we can all stretch out more, and this band is more of a showcase for me.' You have to go a long way to top Friday's lineup, maybe all the way to the Crescent City. The Soul Providers include: -Kenny Hadley, the Braintree-based jazz bandleader ('an encyclopedia of soul,' according to Bargar). -Boston's Mark Poniatowski on bass. -Waltham guitarist Mike Williams, who's anchored pianist David Max-well's band. -Tenor saxophonist Amadee Castenell, a New Orleans cohort of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Williams released his own solo album last year, a sizzling r&b and jazz instrumental CD that included guests like legendary saxman David 'Fathead' Newman, and a tune from the Williams disc was a late set highlight. 'Laughing Through the Tears' was centered on the Williams guitar, yet with it's lyrical melody and subtly entrancing rhythms it reminded me of the best old Cannonball Adderley stuff. As Williams explored the melody with precision and warmth, Castenell's sax and Bargar's surging organ lines provided ample support. The old Delbert McClinton vehicle, 'Leap of Faith,' was focused on Bargar's electric piano, in a steamy, mid-tempo r&b groove. Bargar, who said he was getting over a chest cold, will never be confused with Smokey Robinson, but his gravelly down-home vocals delivered material like this with gritty authenticity. That was shown moments later when Bargar and company tackled 'Can't Turn You Loose,' with an effective an Otis Redding-like vocal. That familiar chestnut also offered a good insight into the way the Soul Providers rework some of the classics, as they turned the torrid soul tune into a syncopated march, as if it were part of a New Orleans parade. Bargar's soul music comes from far and wide, and some of the covers the Soul Providers do are not widely known. Howard Tate's 'Ain't Nobody Home,' for example, might not be instantly familiar to casual fans, yet the raw-edged soul of this powerful ballad carried a wallop. Here again, the tune was centered on Bargar's keyboards, with Williams adding subtle support, and Castenell bringing it to a blazing finish with an incendiary sax solo. The Soul Providers also did 'Crazy Up In Here,' from New Orleans pianist Jon Cleary, a rapidly paced boogie-woogie/swing number. Perhaps Bargar's crowning moment as vocalist came on the old nugget 'Drownin' in My Own Tears,' which the Soul Providers turned into a slow, gospel-inflected ballad. Bargar's electric piano lines were poignant, and his testifying vocals could've awakened the dead. Williams crafted subtle counterpoint, and Castenell's sax took on a sultry feel that made it all go down like butter. The Soul Providers play frequently at 'Bob The Chef's' in Boston as well as 'The Black Horse Tavern' in Boston, and 'The Good Life' located in Boston and Cambridge. Joe Bargar: Vocals, Piano, Organ Joe is a veteran of the New England music scene. Having grown up in Providence, RI, Joe had the opportunity to appear with such legendary acts as Roomful Of Blues, Scott Hamilton, and James Montgomery. Living in New York City for most of the 70's and 80's, Joe played with performers such as Sly &The Family Stone, Robbie Robertson, blues greats Otis Rush, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son Seals, and John Lee Hooker; and soul masters Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, and Solomon Burke. Joe can be heard on several recordings, including Diana Ross's, 'Silk Electric', featuring Michael Jackson and 'Late Show' bandleader Paul Shaeffer. Amadee Castenell: Tenor Saxophone Amadee is one of New Orleans' premier sax players. Amadee is a mainstay of the New Orleans music scene. He has recorded and toured with Dr. John, The neville Brothers, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Johnny adams, just to name a few. He has recorded 2 c.d.'s, 'Amadee', and 'Sax Dreams' for Nyno Records. He currently lives in the Boston area OffBeat Magazine, June 1999: With a tight, crisp, evenly paced and never overpowering sound that calls to mind the smooth jazz styles of Grover Washington, Jr. and Boney James, Castenell stands front and center on every track. His talented tenor creates an eclectic mix of fast and slow instrumentals... Amadee Castenell has arrived and stands ready to take his place among the greats of smooth jazz. - Dean M. Shapiro Michael Williams: Guitar Mike has been an active blues and jazz guitarist around New England since 1987. He has recently been performing with Grammy winner James Cotton, and has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada with Michelle Willson and others, including Mighty Sam McClain, David 'Fathead' Newman, Sugar Ray Norcia, Darrell Nulisch, Tone Cool recording artists The Love Dogs, and blues piano virtuoso David Maxwell. Williams' playing, songwriting, and arranging are featured on Ms. Willson's CD So Emotional, which earned a four-star review in Down Beat magazine. Michael Williams' CD Late Night Walk (Blue Tempo Records), was released in fall 1999. A stroll across the lines of blues and jazz, the CD features Williams on ten of his original compositions, with guest artists David 'Fathead' Newman on tenor sax, Sugar Ray Norcia on vocals, and Bruce Katz on Hammond B3 organ and piano. Kenny Hadley: Drums, Percussion Kenny is one of the east coast's most sought-after drummers. Kenny is best known as the leader, for the last twenty years, of 'The Kenny Hadley Big Band', which has recorded two CDs, the latest being 'A Beautiful Friendship', featuring legendary jazz vocalist, Rebecca Parris, on Kedabr Records. He is active in the education community, teaching private students, working as a respected clinician and festival adjudicator. Mark Poniatowski: Bass Guitar, Vocals Mark is a native New Englander who moved to Los Angeles after graduating Berklee College of Music in 1986. There he performed with blues greats such as Floyd Dixon, Junior Watson (guitarist for Canned Heat) and Kid Ramos (currently with The Fabulous T-birds). His performances throughout the US and Europe include the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Orange County Blues Festival, California, The River Festival, Wichita, Kansas, The Natt Jazz Festival in Burgin, Norway, and at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria. He has recorded several CD's including The Bruce Katz Band 'Mississippi Moan' on Audio Quest and The College Boys 'Radio Fusion Radio' on Virgin records. He lives with his family in Boston.
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