Losing a mentor and founding member can be enough to sidetrack, if not completely spell the end for many a band. Olivia finds Steve Tucci soldiering on in the wake of the passing of co-founder Dan Toler. Originally known as The Toler-Tucci Band, the group was spear-headed by Steve Tucci and “Dangerous” Dan Toler, former guitarist for the Allman Brothers and the Gregg Allman Band.
The Nighthawks, Washington, DC's ambassadors of the blues prove once again that there is at least one group in the capitol city that knows how to get the job done.
Armed with a dirty dozen tracks that display their stylistic versatility while emphasizing their blues roots, Mark Wenner and company are clearly having a ball on All You Gotta Do.
The band starts off in fifth gear covering Jerry Reed on "That's All You Gotta Do." Wenner's wailing harp drives the song rolling on top of the rumbling drum work of Mark Stutso. The tune is guaranteed to get an audience on their feet and shaking their tail feathers.
This is followed by the roots/blues/gospel tune "When I Go Away." penned by Levon Helm collaborator Larry Campbell. Recorded by The Dixie Hummingbirds on Diamond Jubilation, and by Helm on Electric Dirt, the song stares death in the face and finds a faith that overcomes the graveyard.
The band's Chicago blues roots are on display with a fine cover of Willie Dixon's "Baby, I Want to Be Loved." The performance is down and dirty, the ribald harp work emphasizing the depths of desire. Bassist Johnny Castle turns in a fine vocal on "Another Day." Written by Castle, the song is an indictment of a government that has turned its back on the people it was meant to serve. Mark Stutso provides a tale of bad love turned revenge with "VooDoo Doll."
The playing, as expected, is first rate and the album is a blast from start to finish. As the liner notes say, "EVERYBODY SINGS," and it is evident that The Nighthawks could teach Congress a thing or two about collaboration and cooperation.
J.M. McSpadden III is a writer and roots music enthusiast who believes every road trip is an opportunity for the full- tilt boogie.