MEN AT WORK: Cutler [third from right] and company.
“This was just something I had to do,” says Bob Gillespie. “I had to do it. The rent might not get paid for a while, but at least we’ve got this to show for it.”
Gillespie’s speaking excitedly about a new project he helped see through — Men of Great Courage Live, a Mark Cutler-led side session set for release this weekend. “It’s a very raw recording that I hope people think has a certain charm,” says Gillespie, who helmed the recording with Cutler’s blessing and the quality assistance of co-producer Tony Caramadre at his Phattones Studios.
MGC all started quite casually, with a bunch of friends jamming on familiar tunes at a few local haunts: Nick-a-Nee’s, the Ruffstone Tavern, and Eddie’s 529. At one point, during another unrehearsed session, Gillespie remembers Mark shouting out a key change. “You gotta have courage for this!” shouted Gillespie to the band. Hence, the origin of the band’s name.
Of course, all of Cutler’s projects — tough, passionate, compelling, articulate — have possessed courage of some form or another. But Live is something else entirely; it’s a melodic but roughhewn joy, nine tracks of rootsy, bluesy, gutsy, folky rock, recorded well enough to showcase the collective’s ragged charm and serve-the-song tastiness. Caramadre captured the mood over a series of nights: “I’m not a technical guru or anything, but we do this kind of thing because we have a great love of music. Plus, it was a lot of fun getting all this great material on tape.”
The loose tracks also happen to comprise Cutler’s first live album. He has a pretty able supporting cast helping him pull it off, including former bandmates Jimi Berger, Bob Giusti, Mike Tanaka, Emerson Torrey, “Banjo Bob” Kirkman, Dave Richardson on mandolin, and Dicky Reed on accordion, along with drummer/harmonica player Gillespie. Together, it sounds like what it is: good friends, close musical associates, and an eager audience all creating some feel-good music. “It’s this great little band that people don’t get a chance to see very often,” says Cara¬madre. “More people should get down to the pub, have a beer, and listen to these guys. It’s what it’s all about.”
MEN OF GREAT COURAGE | April 5 | Nick-a-Nee’s, 75 South Street, Providence | 401.861.7290
On The Fringe
Cory Pesaturo is only 21. He’s in his senior year at the New England Conservatory. He’s also, not surprisingly, the only accordionist enrolled at the urbane music school; most of its denizens likely consider the squeezebox pretty gauche. Yet that doesn’t prevent the kid from Cumberland from making sizable inroads with the instrument on his way to becoming a serious and eclectic force on the local and regional jazz scenes. Heck, he’s already won tons of competitions and performed at the White House. Cory plays all kinds of stuff on that box, from classical and jazz to funk and roots. At the 2007 World Accordion Championships, he was hailed as the best jazz accordionist on the planet, as none of his competitors included improvisation. Cory released the aptly titled second disc, The Fringe, last fall. His gig at Chan’s will feature some of those tracks and some brand new ones which include funk as well as jazz, as Pesaturo looks to blaze new trails on what has always been a very traditional instrument.