Red Rooster,
(Red Rooster, 2005)

Music has no boundaries. So it should come as no surprise to find a roots band in the Big Apple. New York is home to many good bands, but not all offer such quality music as Red Rooster.

Formed in 1998 by longtime friends Jay Erickson, guitar and vocals, and Nick Zilkha, lead guitar, Red Rooster was originally an acoustic twosome. Since then, the group has evolved into an eclectic urban orchestra boasting a variety of musicians and instruments, a DJ and even a choir. The band offers roots music -- bluegrass, folk and blues -- with a decidedly urban edge and with a little hip-hop (not your brother's hip-hop) thrown in for good measure.

They self-produced their first album, Porch Songs, in 2002. Dose, their latest offering, is unique, both for the quality of the music and for the listening experience it has to offer.

Dose is a double-disc release offering two versions of each of 10 original songs. One disc is strictly acoustic while the other takes advantage of every modern tool available to the musician -- from amplifiers and distortion pedals to samples and computers. It makes for an extraordinarily original experience.

With a personal preference for acoustic, I expected to favor that version. Instead, I found myself equally pleased with the variety offered by this concept. With lesser musicians, the effect might not have been as pleasing. Some standouts are "The Cold Ground," "Mexico Revisited" and "Sharp Dressed Man."

Erickson's deep voice adds emotional depth, particularly on some of the more blues-oriented pieces. And, when he teams up with the silky smooth voice of Charlotte Kendrick on "Sharp Dressed Man" on both discs and "Carry Me" on the amplified version, the result is truly moving.

Stellar back up is provided by Brian Keane on banjo, piano, organ; Marina Warsaw-Fann, cello; Michael Favreau, clarinet; Miles Crawford, drums; Jamie Forrest, electric bass, acoustic bass and mandolin; Liam Bailey and Ted Shergatis, fiddle; Brandon Doyle, French horn; Jonathan Howe, harmonica; Bob Parrins, pedal steel guitar; Dave Gould, sax; and Daniel Rowe, synthesizer, bass trap and acoustic guitar. The chorus for "The Cold Ground" on disc two is John Erickson, Karen Erickson, Kristin Erickson, Jonathan Howe, Brian Keane, Dan Rowe, Keith Porteous, Jay Erickson, Charlotte Kendrick, Jamie Forrest, Ted Shergatis and Matt Dellinger.

by John R. Lindermuth
11 August 2007

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