By Ellwood Reppert (Woody Retro)
While at a local club recently, I had the pleasure of discovering R&B rockers Scarlet Roads, a group of six very talented, twenty-something’s, who performed well beyond their years. Their set was a pleasant mix of vibrant soulful songs written by the band and a varied selection of cover tunes they had re-worked putting their own special spin on the classics.
Scarlet Roads has a strong identity rooted in the signature sounds of their varied influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones to Gabe Dixon and Janis Joplin. The crux of that was emanating from the Fender-Rhodes electric piano sound of keyboardist/vocalist, James Jannetty.
Lead singer Kaylee Bergin can belt it like a soul shouter. Her engaging stage presence is highlighted with an occasional growl in her vocal affect, which can suddenly alternate to almost operatic soprano timbre in her vocal acrobatics.
Much of the band’s ambience lies in the virtuoso soloing by saxophonist, Stephen “Saxy” Herring and guitarist, Claudio Tristano, who is equally commanding in his delivery of tasteful licks. Rounding out the lineup is the slick, solid, tight rhythm section of bassist, Frank Caito and drummer Peter RJ Bergin.
All perform backup vocals in a well arranged ensemble presentation that gives the audience at a Scarlet Roads show an experience that is a few notches above the occasional two-part harmony one normally hears from most of their local competition.
I also derived enjoyment from the fact that they weren’t using any backtracks, nor samples, and no electronic beats during their live show. Each of the six musicians played with a relaxed confidence while all managing to deliver ensemble backup vocals behind the lead vocal performances of Kaylee & keyboardist James. Evidenced by their nonchalant stage presence, I could easily recognize the amount of effort and time put in to their live show. Having toured Europe, & across the USA, their time together performing on the road is paying great dividends to their appreciative audiences right here in Southern California. They have recently performed at many of the major clubs in the Greater Los Angeles area like The House Of Blues, The Malibu Inn and The Viper Room.
They have developed a strong faithful following right here in The Coachella Valley as well. Upcoming shows to check out include Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert on Saturday November 23; The Red Barn in Palm Desert on Friday November 29; and The Tamale Festival in Indio on Saturday, December 7 in the afternoon and later that night at The Blackwatch Pub in Upland, CA. The band returns to the Coachella Valley on December 14 at The Red Barn. For tour information and showtimes, visit www.scarletroads.com.
In addition to their busy live performance schedule, Scarlet Roads is in the studio recording with Grammy Award winning producer, Bob Cutarella. The tracks being recorded at famed Westlake Studios, on the cusp of L.A./Ventura counties, is slated for release in 2014. Their repertoire of original music brings hope that this generation isn’t entirely wrapped up in the song and dance antics or alt rock excesses just for the sake of it. Though the lyrics seem to solely focus on the tried and true standard themes of personal relationships, there is a depth that might eventually emerge in their musical poetry. Scarlet Roads is on a path that is clearly marked with the tracks of success.