Seth Yacovone was perfectly unassuming when he took the stage for his CD release party at Higher Ground. In fact‚ he was so informal as he introduced "The Land of Split Decision Revue‚" with an elfin grin on his face‚ that he effectively put his audience‚ himself and his band at ease.
The two-set performance invited more than a few attendees to purchase the new Land of Split Decision album‚ and they should be as pleased with the recording as with the show. Mixing most of the new material with his own established repertoire‚ including some choice covers‚ Seth and his expanded crew of fellow Vermont musicians simultaneously reaffirmed and extended his musical grasp live as they did on the CD‚ albeit in a different way.
The country influence so prominent on the new album gave way to some blistering hard rock late in the second set in the form of "Unanimous Decision‚" among others. Yacovone chose to artfully interweave new material like "Measured Mile" with covers such as The Band's "King Harvest Has Surely Come" and Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." The latter ignited the set‚ as it was delivered in a Chicago blues treatment featuring the core quartet of the evening -- Vorcza's Ray Pazckowski and bassist Rob Morse‚ plus Seth's longtime drummer comrade‚ Steve Hadeka.
The first hour didn't exactly suffer in comparison. Rather‚ like the most impressive live shows‚ it set the stage for the best to come. The preponderance of novel originals reaffirmed how well-crafted songs such as "Somewhere There Is a Home" are. A four-piece horn section -- Luke LaPlante‚ Bryan McNamara and Nathan Bramhall on saxophones‚ with arranger Andrew Moroz on Trombone -- appeared regularly throughout the evening‚ along with vocalists Sheila Metcalf and Andy Burk‚ and the expanded arrangements in which they participated empowered the whole band: "Little Richard Will Rise Again‚" like "Can't Get Sick‚" built to an absolute roaring climax.
Standing as harbingers of the rousing encore of Sly Stone's "You Can Make It If You Try‚" those frenetic numbers emphatically echoed the resolute positivism of Yacovone's new recording‚ turning this evening in the Showcase Lounge into a memorable event‚ indeed. Hopefully‚ it will not turn out to be‚ as billed in advance‚ "a special one-time performance."