Falzarano & Sears

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Posted by kevin r schmidt on 01/01/02 - 22:22:45
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Michael Falzarano since joining Hot Tuna has never been given the due respect he deserves for his work with Jorma and Hot Tuna.  Every sideman brought something to the table when they played with Jorma and Hot Tuna.  What Michael Falzarano did was challenge Jorma to stop being complacent performing musician and provided him the musical and supported he needed at the same time.  

Prior to joining Tuna, Jorma was a complacent musician.  He played guitar and sang for three hours each night and moved onto the next show.  When Michael joined he brought along a bunch of cover songs like Blue Moon of Kentucky, Bad Moon Rising, and the Clash's Bank Robber.  Jorma never would have though of trying to arrange Bank Robber to sound like an Appalachian folk song.  But Michael did and Hot Tuna played it a lot back in 92 and 93.  Michael challenged Jorma to step out of his comfort zone and play a pedal steel guitar on Michael's songs.  

Michael supports Jorma and he doesn't compete with him and that is why he's a good fit.  His singing ability is acceptable and works in the Jorma and Tuna format.  Its not about perfection and polish.  Its about gritty music with a slight edge that has a unique beauty of its own and Michael's abilities fit the formula perfectly.  Jorma is not exactly the greatest singer in the world either.  Even I can sing through my nasal passages.  The music speaks for itself and it supports everything I just said about Michael.
Not every musician who joins the ranks of Hot Tuna, the Jefferson Whatevership, and god knows what other musical mutant variant has to be a superstar flash guitarist.  That job can be saved for Craig Chaquico and his early 90's heavy metal wet dream band, Big Bad Wolf.  All of you should be thankful only Japan had to suffer through that band's one time only abomination CD release.  

Pete Sears is one of the most unappreciated blues players around.  I have to agree with Keith about his contribution to the Tuna Sweetwater CD's.  He does round out the line up with his piano playing.  Something he never really demonstrated with Paul, Grape, and Company.  

His early work with Rod Stewart's solo albums gave him mainstream exposure to the record buyer public.  The Rod Stewart Album, Gasoline Alley, and Smiler exposed him to rock & roll and commercialized blues on both sides of the Atlantic.  Even his earlier work (pre Rod Stewart) as a side man on Marian Segal & Silver Jade he sounds much more comfortable playing in a folk trio as opposed to Stewart's albums.  But his joining Hot Tuna in 1991 brought him back in some respects to where his career began.  Playing blues and folk music that showcases his talent.  No ego, no hype, just playing good music, which he seems to enjoy the most.  

One thing I would like to see happen one day is for Pete Sears to team up again with Ron Wood and without Rod Stewart and record a blues album together.  Personally, Ron Wood is another unappreciated blues guitarist.  If you go back and listen to his work on the Face's Long Player, the Rod Stewart Album and Gasoline Alley you can hear how their styles would be a perfect match.  

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