The Rides driving down a Pierced Arrow

The Rides

The Rides driving down a Pierced Arrow

The cover hits the road with a Pierced Arrow mascot. The music hits the tarmac and flows full of blues and RnB’s deep rhythms. The Rides are a quintet, at the heart a trio Stephen Stills joined by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg. A fusion of blues passions as Kenny’s searing guitar is pulled deep into the chords of Barry’s magic tour of the keyboard with Stephen’s vocals pulling the road trip into one of stories and excitement. Add to this the rhythm section, bassist Kevin McCormick (a co-producer on Pierced Arrow) and Shepherd’s long-time drummer Chris Layton and we have The Rides. Throughout the album the passion for the song, music and blues plays centre stage on a journey that takes the interesting road as they take us on The Rides of our lives.

With a mutual love of classic cars Kenny and Stephen find a common language on many levels, hence, the title of their new album is a riff on the famed Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, a maker of luxury cars in the first four decades of the 20th Century. Stills knows his history and sees a unique parallel: “A lot of band musicians drove Pierce-Arrows back in the late 20s and 30s, either out to Long Island or to and from the trains. They were really roomy and you could fit in several guys and their instruments, and tie stuff to the running board. The hood ornament (as depicted on the album cover) is cool looking. I find the lines of that model particularly appealing, clean and precise like a good five-piece band.”

Pierced Arrow picks up exactly where the debut album Can’t Get Enough left us with ten tracks of Blues stamped with the authority of Stephen Stills. The album mixes originals with covers that are a driving run through the blues. The re-working of Gladys Knight & The Pips; I’ve Got To Use My Imagination, Barry co-wrote with Garry Goffin. The inspiration for the searing guitar and deep chords from the keys reflects Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s slower take and like the other cover that closes the album My Babe, a Willie Dixon classic was suggested by Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Ending on a classic reflects the classic blues that permeates throughout Pierced Arrow album just like the classic cars loved by Stills and Shepherd.

Opening with Kick Out Of It the album has a blues-rocking intro that gets your musical antennae whizzing with delight as you tune-in to The Rides sound. The sound is delicious with Kenny’s guitar spilling out of the weathered vocals of Stephen and Barry’s keys. Do not relax in a blues rock mode as we are in for a Riva Diva, boogie dance rhythm jam that gets the blues adrenalin flowing. Fancy chilling and kicking back then By My Side cools down the blues heat with Kenny’s vocals on By My Side a sky-blue ballad, perfect accompaniment to the picnic in the boot of The Pierced Arrow as we take a respite from the road trip The Rides are taking us on. The combinations of guitar and vocals are a lyrical joy. Just as we are chilling out the beat picks up and the texture changes vocally with Mr Policemen and the guitar laments the storyline as Stills explains speed to Mr Policeman, as on other tracks Goldberg’s keys adds that layer of interest and punctuates the rhythm section’s driving beat. Over half-way through the album what other surprises on The Rides journey they are taking us on? Well let’s have harp driven roadhouse blues, yes Game On with this energy fuelled number. Let’s have some fun as the tempo rises with I Need Your Lovin’ and the great back and forth between Kenny and the backing vocals, rockabilly with a piano solo from Goldberg that lifts the track from standard to sublime.

The Rides deliver again. A combination of Dancing Keys, Stinging Strings with raw passionate Vocals, a spectrum of blue as Shephard, Goldberg and Stills harmonize and deliver music you want to hear. My one wish is that they come over to the UK real soon so we can hear the music live.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Pierced Arrow – The Rides Mascot Label Group

Track Listing
1. Kick Out Of It
2. Riva Diva
3. Virtual World
4. By My Side
5. Mr Policeman
6. I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
7. Game On
8. I Need Your Lovin’
9. There Was A Place
10. My Babe

Crosby Stills and Nash Live @The Motorpoint, Cardiff

Crosby Stills and Nash Live @The Motorpoint, CardiffCrosby Stills and Nash
@The Motorpoint, Cardiff
22nd September 2015

With the venue filling fast and the excited chatter, for me the question was yes, we were going to hear favourites from the back catalogue over the two sets but would this be a trip down memory lane, an ode to nostalgia or a gig that excites a real show that entertains.

The stage was set, the house lights dimmed and the opening chords of Carry Out got the show on the road, and the evening progressed with a mix from their collective works from group albums, solo albums and duet albums all dipped into with the support of a superb five-piece backing band, creativity was on fire tonight. The harmonies were pure, full of tonal shape and textures that flowed across the auditorium and the guitar from Stephen Stills was as good as ever. We heard Marrakesh Express, Southern Cross and Wooden Ships in the mix of a set list that toured their collective talents. The mix of styles and musical approaches were ever present; Graham Nash with his skills lightening the tone combined with Dave Crosby’s skills in manipulating modal tunings on his guitar mixing in jazz and folk melodic ranges and on top of this the dynamic and scintillating guitar solos and the riff of Rock n Roll provided by Stephen Stills.

In between music that floated, curled and built and expanded our collective memories, we had willing audience participation, added to the CSN harmonies were the collective Welsh voices on Our House and a bass solo that mesmerised courtesy of Kevin McCormick – what a rendition of Deja Vue. Stephen Stills, with a quip “It is better that I cover his rather than Bob Dylan covering one of mine…” bringing laughter from the audience as he mimicked Bob’s voice on a short intro of one his own songs then a gorgeous rendition of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North suited the tone of his vocals. The surprise of the evening was the stamina and power of Dave Crosby, this is ironic considering the punishing lifestyle he adopted in times gone pass, his voice was on wonderful form. The highlights for me were Dave Crosby’s Guinevere which gave me goosebumps of emotional delight, and the new tracks had a freshness as epitomised by Stephen Stills Virtual World and his solution to people being more interested in their phones than the conversation – dunk them in a glass of Guinness the ‘sacrificial pint’ and Myself full of heart-rending subtleties. Fans of Crosby Stills and Nash were re-united with the music tonight and the encore just had to be Teach Your Children. What an evening, yes we are all older and the harmonies sometimes were at times strained and had to be worked harder to achieve but the music told a story we all wanted to hear and share.

In answer to the question before the show started Crosby Stills & Nash can still deliver every song whether old or new, had a freshness of delivery, and this was entertainment that left you on a high there was a wall of smiles and purrs of delight from the Cardiff audience tonight.

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