Jorma Kaukonen - Electric Bass - Table Steel Guitar
Larry Packer - Additional Keyboards
Danny Lewis - Organ Piano
Dave Castiglione - Saxophone
Pete Sears -Accordion Piano
The Pilgrims make a virtual hadj to their Mecca, Memphis, Tennessee. It's all here: faithless women, getting drunk, lonesome highways, the pain-in-the-ass boss. Pop Mecca into your car for that top down, first breath of spring, sunny afternoon cruising feeling (forget the Levi's ads; this is the real American experience). Some might call it "roots rock", but we don't believe in labels here at JTP. The Memphis Pilgrims are an honest, straight ahead, unaffected Rock and Roll band. Their sound is not ground breaking, in fact, it's pretty derivative - but so what! - this kind of authentic music is always hard to come by, especially when the record companies, radio stations and club owners (it couldn't be the fickle consumer, could it?) are always driven by the flavor of the month (anybody think the Spice Girls' next release will be dominated by raw, stark Delta Blues???).
Musically, the Memphis Pilgrims are a vehicle for Michael Falzarano. His guitar and voice drive all the tracks on the album, aided by Jimmy Eppard's sparse (but still smokin') solo runs. Danny Lewis of Gov’t Mule could be considered the "Fifth Pilgrim", since his bright, aggressive piano makes this a substantially better recording, particularly on songs like "I Was The One". Jorma Kaukonen plays on a few tracks; my ear is not sophisticated enough to absolutely identify his guitar, but there's a great slide part on "You Haunt my Soul" and a crunching solo on "Just My Way", and he plays on both. Pete Sears (piano and accordion), Dave Castiglione (sax) and Larry Packer (fiddle) also make some nifty contributions.
Harvey Sorgen produced, and he's done a great job integrating all these elements into the mix without compromising the integrity of the songs, or of the Pilgrims' sound. Getting a good sound from the drums is a crucial aspect of making a good rock and roll recording, and Harvey nailed that part, for sure. The music is crisp, clear, and up-front, and it's not watered down by excessive multi tracking. There's an acoustic foundation on most of these tracks that is nicely preserved despite the rave-up nature of these songs.
My two favorite cuts are "Kathleen", a tasty gumbo stirred by a New Orleans-style rhythm, and featuring a great Lowell George-like slide, Pete Sears on squeeze box, a cool fiddle solo, and more great piano from Lewis; and "Judge, I'm Not Sorry", a vividly produced slow blues number where the guitars (dobro, stand-up bass, and a echo-laden lap steel) sound like they're playing in your living room.