What is better than spending some time walking around New York City on a beautiful spring day? Seeing The Johnny Makowski Band at B.B. King Blues Club that very same evening! The band consists of Johnny Markowski (Stir Fried and the New Riders of the Purple Sage), son of the legendary producer and songwriter, Thomas Jefferson Kaye, on guitar and vocals, Ken Harten on keyboards, Dave Yanuzzi (first person to graduate Berkley on pedal steel) on pedal steel guitar, Clay Cassell (Wigjam) on drums, Perry Paletta (McMule) on mandolin, Vin Warner on the upright bass, Lizzy Friel (Reflections) on violin & vocals and Joanne Lediger (Stir Fried & McMule) on vocals.
The mood was light as Johnny hit the stage, sat down on a chair with his acoustic guitar and conversed with audience for a bit. This being the band’s third show, one would find it hard pressed to believe after hearing this tight knit group. The music was very reminiscent of Neil Young with a country twist, covering tunes from rock, blues, bluegrass and folk. Add Johnny’s bluesy voice and acoustic guitar work, the golden voices of Joanne and Lizzy, to that of Perry’s awesome mandolin playing and Lizzy’s rocking violin, the driving beat of both Vin and Clay in the rhythm section with Ken’s piano work adding to the feel and passion of each piece and top it off with some serious moments of intense jamming and you have a unique sound that sat very well with the audience and a force to be reckoned with.
Moments of note for this listener were “Shades of Blue,” “Bouncin’ Off The Walls” a sweet duet between Joanne and Johnny, “I Know There’s Someone Else” with New Riders band mate Michael Falzarano and “Higher” also with Michael and Bobby DiBlasio. By the time the encores were played the audience was on their feet dancing, singing and begging for more. I for one am glad this band has come together, even if by happenstance, and hope to see it continue on to higher and higher heights.
Shades of Blue, Rite Time, Everything Under The Sun, Cross That Bridge, Walk Tall, Shine A Light, Bouncin’ Off The Walls (Joann & Johnny Duet), Nyack, Messed Up Big Time, Chocolate California, Down For The Ride, 13 Steps, Ever Lovin’, Nothin’ To Do, * I Know There’s Someone Else, *+ Higher, Encores: All Cried Out, West of the Mississippi * with Michael Falzarano, + with Bobby DiBlasio