"Anyone who's ever caught Fiumano live knows the kid is a natural performer. And he proves he's got the skills to match on "Strangers." The young singer/songwriter displays an energy and forwardness rarely seen in the contemporary folk-Americana genre. Local critics (myself included) have likened both his songwriting and vocal chops to that of an early Neil Young. Find out for yourself by picking the disk up through iTunes or Amazon.com."
Anthony Fiumano and The Medicine Chest CD Release Live @ The Saint, July 26,2008
I can remember first meeting Anthony Fiumano a few years back and recall being somewhat intrigued by the gangly kid with sunglasses, cigarette, and the big Martin guitar.I had once been quoted here as saying that Fiumano was "poised to take his genre to its own gritty level" and while that's sounds kind of highfalutin', I think that call was pretty accurate, as he has come so far as both a writer and a performer. And part of that journey has been to transition into a band endeavor as many soloists eventually do.
Early formations were a test run of sorts and you could tell he was searching, trying to put it all together in a non-conformist way. That isn't easy to do, believe me, just because you have drums, bass and guitar up there behind you doesn't mean that it's going to be a good representation of who you are. It takes lots of determination, practice and forethought to pull it off right. Especially when everyone seems to prefer the performer as a solo. But for this Saturday night record release, Fiumano was ready and so were his top-notch Medicine men.
The Medicine Chest is made up of some of my favorite musicians in the area. Guys like Tommy Strazza, who can lay back behind Anthony's vocal or tear it right out of the floor Tele style and Eric Safka on The B3. What can you say about Safka? Every band that sees him onstage has to have a B3 guy in the group after that, it's just the way it is. He's responsible for backing many of the top groups in New Jersey.It's just a matter of time before Eric is on the big stage. I hadn't met bassist Mike Parker or drummer Eric Novod, but they both rounded out this highly capable band with style.
Watching Fiumano with this band was sort of like watching someone ride a rodeo bull. Watching him lead his band through a solid set had me laughing out loud and saying "All right Anthony!" Fiumano might look like a kid, but he possesses the aura of someone who's been up there for 20 years. The release of his new album When Strangers Say Hello introduces Fiumano's new live sound in a forceful direction while still retaining some of his acoustic signatures that got him noticed in the first place.
"When Strangers Say Hello" is a solid intro to the Medicine Chest. Produced by Jerry Collier, the record is smartly done and features some older stuff as well as new tunes with this current band. Great additional steel man Bob Egan (Wilco, Freakwater and Blue Rodeo) tracked on one of my favorite cuts titled, "The Year Of the Flood. " Egan's ethereal groans of cold rolled steel support Fiumano's plaintive vocals and bell clear acoustics with a solid arm as Fiumano paints his picture of hard times in a non-forgiving scenario of worldly existence.
Another favorite of mine is one of Fiumano's older tunes, "Queen Of Diamonds." A laid back folkie waltz in the traditional vein of Tweedy or Young, it pulses along with sun drenched harmonicas and one of the toniest guitar leads I've heard in a while