The Centerville All Stars perform their special brand of live rock\'n\'roll from funky local bars to raucous outdoor venues. Fueled by high-energy performances, strong vocals and a party atmosphere, this legendary Minnesota-based rock show is a favorite among live music aficionados across the Upper Midwest.
Party with the Band
A Review, by Ed Newman
Have you heard the news? “Party with the Band” is now in stores everywhere, or ought to be.
They\'re back. The Centerville All Stars have given birth to a new CD. One criticism of last year\'s super great “Not Dead Yet” CD was that people were expecting to hear Lance Cloutier on vocals. Maybe it wasn\'t clear to some folks that it was a John Heino assemblage. Heino had wearied of putting off his desire to get some tracks down somewhere in this lifetime, and despite a Centerville All Stars cast, circumstances did not really make it a true All Stars CD. But the effort ignited a spark, and this year the band is back. And their CD is gift to the City by the Lake, and an homage to its soul, its spaces, its people and places.
With the full band in place, the All Stars put in motion some great energy toward preserving for a wider audience their special breed of rock, blues and creative power. Their fans reap the benefits. This is a true mirror of a band Twin Ports clubbers have grown to love and admire. It\'s solidly produced, thoroughly entertaining and is clearly a tribute to every facet of the home town that has inspired and motivated them. What\'s more, the All Stars step out with a range of styles and sounds that will surprise a few listeners, combining re-energized inventiveness with its classic sounds.
Here\'s my take of the CD\'s contents, before interviewing the band.
City by the Lake
Unless a group is utterly unknown, you always approach a new album with a certain set of expectations. For this reason, the band chooses an opening cut that sends a signal: Lance is back. It also sends a second signal: This album will be a tribute to its roots. The opening number tips the hat to Duluth. Right away we also have echoes of riffs from Not Dead Yet so that while something new, there is a measure of continuity in this offering.
The second and shortest song, also sends a signal: this CD is going to be something different. Prelude has a Scottish Highlands feel. I can hear Braveheart, and Rob Roy, tender waves of simple longing. Julie and Lance blend their voices into the gentle stream of sound, a beautiful lead in to the next tune, a playful instrumental.
Continuing out of the Scots/Irish firmament, Troll is an exploration of the joy of making music. The acoustic guitars, synthesized flute, dancing keyboards, are vibrant with life and spirited beauty.
Organ music introduces a short duet by Lance and Julie, which releases itself into a caliente calypso rhumba. The song is built on a syncopated rhythmic frame with keyboard embellishments and slithery guitar work. The emotive exchanges between Lance and Julie on vocals are effective. Lance wrote the song as a tribute to his beloved Barbara, one of three wonderful people to whom the CD is dedicated.
I\'m Not Done Lovin\' You Yet
Here\'s Julie, oozing sensuality like a female vocalist from the jazz age tradition. When she pours on the heat, you might want to make sure your CD player doesn\'t melt. That slide trombone by Tim Stratiotti gives a nice value added appeal to the tune.
Dirt Track Rocks
This one\'s for the local dirt track racing fans. It\'s in the classic rock tradition, sung by Heino in a gravel voiced growl, a tribute to the area dirt tracks. What\'s cool is the way they\'ve got race announcer Chris Stepan of Superior Speedway dubbed in with the cars pounding by in the background. Insider information: Heino is president of Como Oil & Propane, which sponsors the local Como Dirt Track Series. Kelly Estey, cited in the song along with other name drivers, is sponsored by Como and was champion of last year\'s Como Series in his number 37 modified.
From The Heart
Lance takes lead vocals on this tribute to Sacred Heart Cathedral that begins with something akin to a church bell and a nostalgic country piano hearkening back to simpler times, a very special, warm song with some tender lyrics and guitar work.
Yet another tribute song, this time to the Bayfront Blues. In classic All Stars style, they pull out all the stops here. The only thing missing are the antics and facial expressions of Lance Cloutier, the consummate showman. I hope when they do this at the Blues Fest this summer that someone puts it on YouTube.
Misery Loves Me
Here\'s Julie again crying the blues, shining a light on the shadowed inner spaces of a lonely heart. It\'s a laid back sound, with that classic blues framework which this band does so well.
No More Tears
Ah, so we bounce into the reggae realm. \"No more trouble, no more tears,\" captures the vibrant soul that permeates the world of reggae. All the musicians have a hand in splashing aural color on this light hearted banner of freedom.
Party With The Band (All Night Long)
Julie belts it out, with a full crowd installed. \"Party with the band, .why don\'t ya party with the band, all night long. When the gig is gettin\' over and you feel like raisin\' hell, we\'ll move it down the road to the Deluxe Motel.\" Classic rockstar fare here, the band just plain havin\' fun pounding out energized riffs that\'ll knock the dust off the ledges. It\'s a raucous punctuation mark at the end of a fine selection of songs.
It\'s obvious the band is here to have fun, and they want you to have some fun, too. To lose yourself in the music pick up a copy at the Electric Fetus next time your downtown. Or, if you prefer the thoroughly modern method of acquiring music, you\'ll be able to soon download your CD from cdbaby.com or iTunes.
Ed Newman is Director of Advertising for AMSOIL INC., a Boomer writer who is likewise not dead yet.