Across countries

The Mercy Brother's Mike Dinallo gets around
By BOB GULLA  |  January 30, 2007

MERCIFUL MEN: Dinallo and Whitfield

So much for keeping it local. Mike Dinallo, formerly of the Radio Kings and currently of the Mercy Brothers (with Barrence Whitfield) and other acts, has been mighty busy as a performer and producer. And that business has found him in some pretty far-flung places. The Mercy Brothers recently toured Europe, as they’ve done rather frequently over the last few years, and the trip culminated in recording a session for the legendary BBC DJ Andy Kershaw in London. They also appeared live on Radio 1, Radio 2, and Radio 6 in the Netherlands, spun some records on Radio Bremen in Germany, and appeared on Cleopatra TV in Hamburg.
The Mercy Brothers’ latest CD, Strange Adventure, re-released in Europe on CoraZong Records, has been on heavy rotation throughout the continent and Britain and is selling well.
Here’s how one European reviewer described the Mercy Brothers’ sound on Strange Adventure: “Imagine Mississippi John Hurt and Duane Eddy jamming with an acoustic psychobilly band on a program of songs embracing all their influences and recording the results in the Sun Studios on Union Avenue as a dazed Sam Cooke walks in to add the vocals after having spent the previous evening out on the town with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.” Wow!
“For me, the Mercy Brothers is as much about the band as it is the partnership I’ve developed with Barrence over the years,” says Dinallo. “We’ve developed a comfortable musical and personal relationship that allows us to fall into what we do even if we haven’t seen each other in a while.”
And with his hands in so many projects, Dinallo doesn’t see Whitfield quite as often as perhaps he’d like. In 2004, he produced Let It Go, a charming and intimate record by Boston folk-roots songwriter Alistair Moock. His project with Norway’s William Hut, Nightfall, recently achieved gold status in Hut’s homeland; it’s now high on Norway’s album chart. You might recall that Dinallo also assisted Dave Howard on Howard’s acclaimed country disc, I Tried to Tell You.
And the beat goes on. As we speak, Dinallo, along with studio partner Ducky Carlisle, are producing a record by Stax R&B icon Eddie Floyd at Boston’s Ice Station Zebra. “I contacted Eddie through a mutual friend from Memphis,” Dinallo says. “We talked on the phone a couple of times and then met in New York City back in August and hit it off right away. We spent some time together in London back in November when I was there with the Mercy Brothers and he was touring with Bill Wyman. That was when our plan for the record started coming together . . . We’ll be doing stuff Eddie demo-ed in the ’50s with the Falcons, maybe a tune from his Stax days, and material he’s written recently.”
In the meantime, Dinallo has his hands in lots of other projects. In addition to the Mercy Brothers, which recently made their first area appearance in two years and looks to lay down some new songs as soon as possible, he has a burnin’ blues outfit called the White Owls (with Dennis Brennan, Dean Cassell, Andy Plaisted, and Steve Sadler), and a variety of other musical collaborations, mostly spontaneous, depending on who asks him when. This Saturday (the 3rd), he’ll be sittin’ in with the Tim Taylor Blues Band with Marlie Wanseth at Billy Goode’s in Newport. (Call 401.848.5013.) “To me success is not exclusive to one continent or a small town somewhere in Tennessee,” he says, answering a question about why he’s so popular overseas. “The way the music business works now, you can access music from all over the world with your computer. I’m just happy there are people out there interested in what I do.”

The giddy news continues in Clubland, this time in Narra¬gansett, where a local venue called Shorebreak is beginning to get established on the short list of go-to places for live music in South County. Owner Jason is The Man with the Plan, and he hopes the Shorebreak will serve as a major cog in the revitalization of Narragansett Pier. It will provide the lively local music scene of South County a new outpost, and will give northerners another stage to consider outside of Providence. In addition to acoustic and electric tunes, the venue hosts movie nights, parties, and stand-up comedians. For info, go to or call 401.783.1022.
THE ’MERICANS — Chris Daltry, Michael Moore, Michael Bilodeau (both ex-Pollenate), Bryan Minto, Mike Savage, annd Tom Baker — play AS220 on Friday. February 2, with special guests SUNNY WINTER, J. KENNYAND M. ZILL, and banjo mad dog CURTIS ELLER. Daltry and company will do tunes from the recent ’Merican Recordings project, as well as songs that are taking shape for a new record due out this summer. Call 401.831.9327. On Saturday, B Sharp Presents two Providence acts, SWEETTHIEVES and TXOKA TXOKA, and two Boston bands, MAJOR STARS and PAPER THIN STAGES. JERI VERDI will play a solo acoustic set on Saturday at 8 pm at the Coffee Depot on Main Street in Warren. Call 401.694.0411. THE DINO CLUB returns to Jake’s on Saturday with special guests LOVE TRAIN. The Dinos will open with an acoustic set, then Love Train takes over, followed by an electric Dino Club grand finale. Call 401.453.5253.
Lastly, congrats to DUKE ROBILLARD for his Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Record. Locally produced and staffed, Guitar Groove-a-Rama was Duke’s first Grammy acknowledgment after 40 years in the business. Way to go, boss.  

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