LINER NOTES

TOMMY LEPSON BAND "Putty and Paint"Powerhouse
Mike Joyce of the Washington Post
Friday, May 1, 2009
ON "PUTTY AND PAINT," veteran singer and keyboardist Tommy Lepson sticks to what he does best. The result is as sturdy and welcome as a classic soul ballad. Certainly longtime fans won't be disappointed with this 14-track collection. Besides assembling a colorful mix of vintage and original tunes for his tight, R&B-bred quartet, Lepson sings with the full-throated power that has earned him a barrel of Wammie awards over the years. The familiar tunes cover a lot of ground. Chuck Willis's signature lament "I Feel So Bad," later recorded by Elvis Presley, inspires a freshly layered blend of blues and funk. Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" proves a potent showcase for Lepson's Hammond B-3 organ and John Bell's soaring guitar flights. And an anguished rendition of Nils Lofgren's "No Return" provides additional proof that Lepson's voice is as strong and expressive as ever. His songwriting also shines, by turns defiant ("Cold Hearted Woman"), sinuously evocative (the Santana-esque instrumental "Para Mi Hija") and cleverly barbed (the album's title track). Several notable Washington-based musicians lend a hand, too. Singer Mary Ann Redmond and Nighthawks blues harp player Mark Wenner are among the guests contributing color and depth to this thoroughly enjoyable studio session.

"I'm always in the mood to hear some really true blue-eyed soul, especially from one of the best around. Tommy’s vocal presence makes the whole thing so cohesive, and smooth as silk, it just sails."
-Shaun Murphy, Little Feat

"Once again, the Tommy Lepson Band has delivered! Wrapping an earthy mix of funk, blues, and rock around Tommy’s soulful-as-ever voice and highlighted by Paul Bell’s great guitar work, this collection of heartfelt songs is a joy to listen to. Thanks again fellas for keepin’ it soulful and real."
-Nils Lofgren, E Street Band guitarist

Dirk Chorneburg, Chesapeake Music Guide

What do you do when you’ve had a near death experience and you look at life with a new outlook?  If you’re Tommy Lepson, you continue writing, playing, and recording with newfound vigor.  Tommy’s latest release, AM53, shows the maturity and energy of an artist at a high point in his game.  AM53 takes you on a journey through the roots of American music, the evangelistic delivery of the message through AM Radio. We receive the message loud and clear in the first cut and title track, “AM53”.   With the usual soulful vocals and driving Hammond B3 organ (a la Brian Auger and Felix Cavalieri), Tommy delivers the preface.   

What follows is a song selection  which takes you through an ebb and flow of emotions. The horn section, Tom Crawford (saxes) and Chris Hutton (trumpet) add the big band sounds on hard hitting songs “Ace of Spades” and Lepson penned, “Everyday Thing”. The rhythm section, Gary Crockett,  on drums; Wade Mathews, on bass; and Cesar Vanegas, on congas; deliver the bottom with mastery and power. The rhythms are a maze of rock, funk, R&B, Cajun, soul, and Latin.  Guitarist Paul Bell is brilliant in interpretation and performance throughout the album. Noteworthy is the band’s groove and energy on “ThinkTwice”.  
The most inspirational cuts are “Catch Me When I Fall”, “Do The Right Thing”, and “Loving Arms”.  These gospel-like ballads are garnished with blazing and moody guitar tones from Paul Bell and added vocals from Mary Ann Redmond.  In them, Tommy digs deep inside to sing with purity and soul. This album has depth and versatility. There is something here for everyone. Although these players are local, the stature of this CD goes beyond the region.  We should use this to our advantage.  I’d recommend buying it and getting the band to sign it when they play nearby.  Thumbs up!

Mike Joyce, Washington Post

Think of "AM 53" as pirate radio, an hour-long broadcast aimed at fans of southern R&B, blues and rock. Just dial it up, sit back and soak up the soulful sounds. The "playlist" certainly puts to shame most of the music on the airwaves these days. Singer and keyboardist Tommy Lepson, who has won more Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) for his unvarnished vocals than he knows what to do with, has put together a colorful assortment of tunes, both originals and covers. Among the former is the title track, in which Lepson gruffly musters evangelical fervor, advising salvation-seekers that "the man with all the answers is on AM 53," while the latter includes a terrific roadhouse reworking of Dave Van Ronk's "Sunday Street." In fact, with its big beat groove and Paul Bell's evocative slide guitar work, this version of "Sunday Street" ends up having a lot more in common with Little Feat funk than coffeehouse fare. (Not surprisingly, Little Feat singer Shaun Murphy contributes a liner note endorsement, calling Lepson's brand of blue-eyed soul "one of the best around." No argument here). The songs on "AM 53" encompass blues favorites, such as Willie Dixon's "Don't Go No Further (You Need Meat)," and soul rave-ups, such as Otis Redding's "Love Man." And in keeping with Lepson's track record, his band places an old-school emphasis on organ, electric/resonator guitars and a strong rhythm section -- plus occasional horns and background vocals (courtesy of Mary Ann Redmond). As a result, "AM 53" continually gives listeners reason to stay tuned.

Vicente P. Zumel, La Hora Del Blues, Barcelona, Spain:

Gran disco el que nos trae este teclista y cantante que se mueve con soltura y experiencia por los caminos del rhythm & blues y de la música ‘american roots’ mezclado con ese sonido de ‘rock sureño’ tan característico de algunas bandas blancas del sur, aunque nuestro hombre se mueve preferentemente por el área de Washington. Lepson es un fervoroso creyente de la iglesia evangélica y eso se refleja en las letras de sus composiciones, aunque para llegar a esa conclusion hay que saber leer entre lineas, ya que sus creencias no son demasiado explícitas. En el cd hay excelentes versiones de Willie Dixon, Ottis Redding, Dave Van Ronk.... Un disco estupendo con fantásticos ‘grooves’, toques ‘funk’, evocativas ‘slide’, algo de ‘soul’, todo ello con un órgano que prevalece, tanto en primera línea como mero acompañamiento. Como podeis ver un disco de música americana al cien por cien para los que gustan de la música con clase y estilo. MUY BUENO.

Translation: Here comes an excellent CD recorded by a singer and keyboards player who really knows the different rhythm & blues and american roots music ways, all mixed with the special ‘southern rock’ sound so typical in southern white rock bands. Tommy Lepson is very well known in Washington area and his deep evangelical church religious beliefs can be discovered on his songs lyrics if you pay attention to them. The CD gives splendid Willie Dixon’s, Ottis Redding’s or Dave Van Rock’s versions. A very interesting CD with swingin’ grooves, funk details, sharping ‘slides’ and a little bit of ‘soul’ all cooked with a prevailing organ, perfect in backing and solos. A complete american music CD perfect for those of you who love this kind of music. GREAT.

Vicente P. Zumel, La Hora Del Blues, Barcelona, Spain:

Tommy Lepson Band “Putty And Pain”. Powerhouse 2009. Una estupenda y contundente banda de blues, americana y rock/blues con raíces. En cuanto han sonado los primeros compases del tema “Putty And Pain”, la canción con la que abren el cd, enseguida me han venido a la cabeza grupos y músicos del estilo de los Nighthawks, John Mooney o los canadienses Downchild. Tommy Lepson Band suenan poderosos y bien ensamblados, además interpretan con gusto, fuerza, energía y pasión el repertorio escogido, con unos resultados y un balance final de alta calidad por la fuerza expresiva de la música aquí expuesta. La Tommy Lepson Band está formada por un cuarteto cuyos componentes son, Tommy Lepson a la voz, piano, Hammond y sintetizadores, John Bell a la guitarra y coros, Spencer Leckliter al bajo y Gary Crockett batería, percusión y coros. Además del cuarteto intervienen algunos músicos invitados que ayudan a sobredimensionar la calidad intrínseca del propio producto, dotándolo de colorido, vistosidad y garra. Un disco bien realizado con una calidad y una profesionalidad envidiables que ya quisieran para si muchos grupos actuales. MUY BUENO.

Translation: Here comes an excellent powerful blues, Americana and roots rock-blues band. Since I heard the first notes of the opening cd song “Putty And Paint”, I immediately thought of other similar bands and musicians such as The Nighthawks, John Mooney or the Canadian Downchild. The Tommy Lepson Band sound teamed, powerful and they perform with taste, energy and passion, a bunch of good songs with high quality results and an amazing musical expression. The Tommy Lepson Band are a four musicians group with Tommy Lepson on vocals, piano Hammond and synthetisizers, John Bell on guitar and backing vocals, Spencer Leckliter on bass and Gary Crockett on drums, percussion and backing vocals. There are also some guest musicians who give a remarkable value to the album with a colorful bright personality. It is a well done record with an enviable professional quality that many actual bands would love to have. GREAT

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