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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Rob Barteletti’s Shakers' Session

Shakers' Session

Review by Larry Toering

Rob Barteletti is the brainchild of this great compilation of northwest singers who were invited to the project to put the icing on the cake, and a solid effort was made by all. Barteletti was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2002 and has organized and produced what is now seven benefit concerts called "The Shakers' Ball." Burgerville partnered with Barteletti to underwrite and promote the project and this cause, with all profits going to former the Portland Trail Blazer / Brian Grant foundation to increase awareness and support Parkinson's disease. The disc was recorded, mixed and produced by Rob Stroup at 8Ball Studio and can be purchased at Burgerville locations and Barteletti's website with various other information concerning it. Not only is this a great cause to get behind, the quality of music here is soothing and delightful. Parkinson's, as with any chronic disease needs a swift kick and this is one way to do it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Being Jesus Again
This has a fantastic quality to it that simply won't quit. Sung by Rob Stroup of Rob Stroup and the Blame, it's very soft with a sort of narrative vocal that dominates the arrangement without drowning out the backing track. This is simply excellent!
Queen Of Sheba
The same tempo is kept throughout this, except for a pick up or two. Otherwise it’s very similar but with more instrumentation and vocals by Fernando. Like the previous tune there is just something wholesome about it that sticks. It’s another lovely track.
Mr. Heartache
Out of everything in this set, this track sung by Nick Peets is the most compelling number on offer to me. I love this. It has somehow made a permanent home in my heart. I think it really picked up after seeing it performed live and then going back to have another listen. Since then I haven't been able to set it down. Everything about it is excellent!
Ask Me Why
This is another lighthearted tune that carries a fine melody, sung by Pete Droge. This guy has a great voice, as do all of the singers here. Rob Barteletti writes good songs as far as I'm concerned, and that is measured by the feel these singers give them. I love how the guitar carries this out as well, simply touching.
The Box
This is awesome! Ian Moore takes the mic here and what a fantastic artist he is. Residing in northern Washington, via Austin, Texas, this connection between Austin and the northwest seems to be abundant. I'm glad I'm getting wind of some of it, as I can't seem to get enough of this infectious music.
Voices
Storm Large provides vocals on this fine track. It's nice to hear her mellow side, which I haven't explored much. The backing track is once again lovely, with some sweet guitar lines. Her voice is great here, but then that is what it's all about in the first place. What a spooky yet inoffensive little treat this is.
Fool That Is Me
This is a lot more folksy than anything on offer so far, complete with Dylan style harmonica throughout. On this track, Bart Ferguson sings in a low register that creeps up hard by the end. You just can't deny its beauty. It's so hard to find anything here that isn't right up my alley.
Bird On The Wing
Steve Wilkinson of Wilkinson Blades is featured on this one, and it's not so much the track here as it is his performance that makes it for me. This is another great NW singer who has entered my radar recently, and I find him to be a killer talent. “Bird On the Wing” is simply sublime, and up there with the likes of a couple of others on offer that will always have room in my ears. It’s another fantastic effort by all involved.
Reckoning Day
This is another fine quality tune with vocals provided by Mike Coykendall, and by now there appears to be not one bum note on this entire disc. This is another fabulous track indeed.
Wild Woman Blues
The humor begins to kick in on this fun track sung by Ken Derochie. This was also a highlight at the Shakers Ball where it was performed. He is another one of the singers I can't get out of my head. They're all great, but a few of them are ringing a lot of bells with me.
Under Icy Falls
This is so cool that it's contagious, with another fine backing tune that Casey Neil sings with absolute perfection. A few tracks take on this low register and ooze that brooding vibe, and this is one of them. There’s another killer showing by all here.
Her Man, Her Lover, Her Friend
Rob Barteletti himself takes the mic on this closing number. Although all the singers were all hand picked from the cream of the northwest crop, Barteletti holds his own as both singer and songwriter. I'm glad I met this man, and several of the others backing this project, and I hope to see more of them in the future.
 
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