Joe Moss Band – Drive Time: Live at Chans (2011)

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Joe Moss starts in an eyeball-deep groove on Drive Time: Live at Chans, hitting the same gravy-dripped chord for a full minute on the opening “Black Boots.” Bassist Dave Wood and drummer Dana Thompson run in tandem, playing with a crisp, swinging propulsion.

The sound, from the first, is lean, hard-won and soulful — and keyboardist Greg Sefner hasn’t even made his enormous presence known yet.

“I Am Feeling You,” which Moss introduces as “a song about commiseration,” settles into a grittier lope, but loses none of detailed menace and peerless excitement of the opener. “My Life,” a wild riffy ride, turns the flame back up, as Moss takes a hard look at how things have turned out for someone who did him wrong. Thompson relentlessly fills, even as Moss turns every stanza into a new opportunity to hit these jagged riffs.

The upbeat, Booker T. and the MGs-inspired “Lost My World,” with its rockabilly-style chicken-picking guitar signature, couldn’t sound anything less like its title. “Need Your Love,” with as locomotive rhythm and romping turn by Moss, features the kind of circular groove that could go on forever — and it almost does, clocking in at 15 minutes. In fact, none of these eight songs, recorded live at Chan’s Egg Roll and Jazz in Woonsocket, R.I., is less than 7 minutes long — culminating with a ruminative 12-minute exploration of the Freddie King standard “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?”

By the time Moss gets there, he’s becoming so engrossed, it seems, in his playing that he sings a portion of the song away from the microphone. In keeping, it would be easy — on the surface — to call Drive Time a guitar record. Yet Moss finds his most interesting foil in Sefner, whether the keyboardist is adding small flourishes on “Black Boots,” jazzy asides on “I Am Feeling You,” or providing sharp counterpoints on that classic Billy Myles closer.

The tender “Maricela’s Smile,” written for Moss’ daughter, is but a brief layover before Moss begins sparring with Sefner on “You Made Me So Happy” — a scorching boogie-rock number that finds Sefner channelling the Afro-Cuban blues stylings of Gregg Rolie in the old Santana band.

Put simply, he’s Moss’s secret weapon.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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