CD Reviews


 

Outside Ourselves
Freightrain
Release May 7, 2017

Outside Ourselves Freightrain Release May 7, 2017

Outside Ourselves Reviews



Freightrain
"Outside Ourselves"
Self Released
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © September 2017
 
 
"Outside Ourselves" is the second project I've had the pleasure of working for Robert "Freightrain" Parker on. The first was exactly a year ago when I reviewed his debut disc titled "Freightrain Live".
 
With the band from that disc still in tact, Freightrain are: Robert "Freightrain" Parker - the discs producer - on bass, percussion and lead vocals; Grace Lougen on guitars and handclaps; Greg Leech on organ; Damone Jackson on drums, percussion and handclaps; and Harry Graser on piano. Guest artists include: Toney Rhodes on keyboards; Bobby Militello and Ken Parker on sax; Amina Boyd on lead and background vocals; Sarah Parker on background vocals and handclaps; DeJuaine "D'Mott" Motley, Grace Stumberg, Megan Brown, DaMarka Wheeler, Darcel Blue, Carl Smith, Jaimier Hennegan, Leslie Gardner and Simone Appleby on background vocals; and Allison McCulloch, Linnea Cremean, Alex Khoury, Michael Etherington and Justin Brittan on handclaps.
 
"Outside Ourselves" contains nine all original songs having smooth, inspiration and precision in common. After several listens, there were so many ways that I thought of to describe their style that I decided to go straight to the source to see how they do it. I was told that "Freightrain are a culturally diverse, soulful band that possesses a distinctive and energetic approach to American Roots" and I could not have said that any better.
 
The disc opens with a song titled "Elijah". It was written for Freightrain's son, who - because of Autism - does not speak. For that reason, Robert felt the lyrics of the song should be left out, making it an instrumental. Having told you that, I do want to point out that the lyrics are included in the booklet accompanying the disc and once you read them, you'll be wishing a box of Kleenex was included as well. Having read that, you now have to know the song is amazingly beautiful and very tenderly performed. Although it's eight minutes in length, you might want to allow yourself much longer to hear it. Heck, I just finished my fourth replay.
 
The title track, "Outside Ourselves", poignantly describes what's going on in the world today. The first of it's two chorus lines pretty much sums it up:
"Outside Ourselves...
The whole world is fighting.
Dividing itself all over again.
Outside ourselves...
A whole world is losing...
Sight of the love, that has the power to change."
Disturbingly sad, yet realistically so, but it's the second chorus line that exudes some hope:
"The whole world is waiting...
To be set free, free from the pain.
The whole world is trying...
To overcome, we must be the change."
Vocally, the track is as powerful as it's lyrics. The brilliant duet of Robert and Amina, combined with the angelic backing vocals of Grace (Stumberg) and Megan, raise this one to hymnal level. Musically, like the listener, the band's in tune with the lyrics as well, and everything rises so perfectly together. Great production.
 
With each and every song I've listened to on this disc, the writing - and the frame of mind it's coming from - has impressed me more and more. I found myself at least a half dozen times thinking I was listening to the most beautiful song of the lot and then it would happen once again. That said, "You Found Me" is the most beautiful......I think! It's got everything going on and it's all going on so well. From the heartfelt and emotional lead vocals by Robert; to the silky smooth harmony back up vocals by the melodic lady choir; that smooth jazz vibe with the mellow sax leads; the organ led rhythm that will take you to church; right down to the timely feel good handclaps. Yeah, now I'm sure - it's the most beautiful song of the lot.
 
Featuring the nucleus of the band, the disc's second instrumental is "Dark Season Blues". It's an up tempo shuffle that the dancers will love. With the band in an incredibly tight, organ led groove behind her, Grace gets into a smooth guitar groove of her own. This is that kind of song you might listen to for hours before even thinking it was a long song.....you just get lost in it.
 
The disc closes with basically three more minutes of the same bliss and peacefulness that it opened with. It's titled "Elijah Reprise" and on it the band, with; it's soothing organ leads; mellowed guitar leads; and relaxed rhythm; is in that same mind transcending groove it was on "Elijah".
 
Other incredibly good songs on this incredibly good disc include: "Better Man", "Wake Up", "Don't Stop The Music" and "I Still Believe".
 
Being a regional band from the Western New York area, there is a chance that some of you may not be all that familiar with Freightrain - and trust me when I say this - you need to change that. That's why you need to go to www.robertfreightrainparker.com. As usual, when you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.
 
 
 
Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient


 



Freightrain

- Outside Ourselves -

Jack Smeltz

The Ellicottville, N.Y. Villager - Entertainment column

June 2017

 

If you don't own this CD you should buy it. One of the best albums I've heard in the last 30 years. From concept to production a brilliant effort. A combination of r&b, blues, jazz and contemporary stylings flawlessly laid down on every track. All who contributed enhanced this CD. I love economy in music and this band and album are perfect examples. No notes played so they could here themselves play but none left out. WOW!!! I think this a Grammy award effort.



 


 



ALBUM REVIEWS
by Bob Silvestri
Freightrain
- Outside Ourselves -

Buffalo music legend Robert "Freightrain" Parker and his band Freightrain have released a new album titled Outside Ourselves a nine track selection of smooth blues and rock. Backed by his stellar band consisting of Grace Lougen (guitars), Greg Leech (keys) and Damone Jackson (drums), Parker also gets some assistance from Harry Graser (keys),Toney Rhodes (keys), Bobby Militello (sax), Ken Parker (sax) and Megan Brown, Grace Stumberg and many others on back ground vocals. The album kicks off with the mellow instrumental "Elijah" written for Parker's son. Another instrumental "Dark Season Blues" a nice blues shuffle, "Better Man", "Wake Up", "I Still Believe" and "You Found Me" are all standouts as is the title track "Outside Ourselves" and its positive message of "we must be the change" that resonates with the times. The album closes with "Elijah (Reprise)" a nice bookend to close out the album. Check out www.robertfreightrainparker.com for information on how to purchase Outside Ourselves or to find out where Freightrain are appearing.



 

 

"Freightrain Live"  Reviews


 

Freight train 1
 


CD Review: Robert Freightrain Parker: Freightrain Live 
By Cecil Davis - WNY Blues Society
   

Robert Freightrain Parker
Freightrain Live 

 Recorded live at The Sportsmen’s Tavern in Buffalo, New York, this cd beautifully captures this wonderful Western New York artist.  His backup band here includes Grace Lougen on guitar, Greg Leech on organ, and Damone Jackson on drums.  Guests include area faves Willie Haddath and Jony James on guitar, Jeremy Keyes on harmonica, Jim Bohm on trumpet, and Freightrain’s brother Ken Parker on sax.  This release is a must have for all his fans which are many and growing in number.

 

     Mr. Parker once toured with the outstanding Texas bluesman Sherman Robertson and Rock Bottom, the late legendary harp blower from Florida.  This disc kicks off instrumentally with a moving rendition of Robin Ford’s Cannonball Shuffle which has sweet solos from Leech and Lougen.  Walter Jacob’s fabulous Up The Line opens with a terrific bassline, then showcases Freightrain’s vocal prowess.  The entire band gets to funk it up on Allen Toussaint’s tour de force Get Out Of My Life, Woman.  

 

     This very danceable CD also includes the classic Barefootin, by Freightrain’s namesake Little Bobby Parker.  Great solos here from local harp phenom Jeremy Keyes, saxman Ken Parker and Grace Lougen extend the tune for those inclined to shake a leg.  Long time club r&b favorite I Need Somebody by Jerry Walker and Little Milton Campbell retains its original soul strut.  Four more tunes including the bonus studio track and album closer Club 48 penned by Parker and Lougen make for an outstanding CD.  Available at his gigs and at:  www.robertfreightrainparker.com/shows


 


 



Robert “Freightrain” Parker

 George Willet - Suncoast Blues Society

 Freightrain Live

 www.robertfreightrainparker.com

 

Blues/Funk bassmonster Robert “Freightrain” Parker was a mainstay on the Suncoast Blues scene for nearly 15 years before he returned to his home base of Western New York in 2008.

During a span of the last 20 years or so I have heard him appear on many other folks’ recordings, but this is the first one I’ve seen under his own banner. As well as playing bass he handles all the vocals on this one too…very nicely, I might add!

 

Freightrain Live comes to life with a seriously grooving take on Robben Ford’s “Cannonball Shuffle.  It has some seriously hot guitar by Grace Lougen and cool, atmospheric (sounds like) B-3 by Greg Leech.  This is a great way to kick off an album!  Little Walter’s “Up The Line” is the first time we get to hear Freightrain on vocal. I don’t remember having heard him sing before, so this was a treat!

 

 “Freightrain’s”s funky take on the Allen Toussaint classic “Get Out My Life, Woman” is the first time we get to hear Robert really get down on that bass…I love this stuff!  Follow that up with another strong Grace Lougen guitar workout and then throw in some Damone Jackson drummin’…and you’ve done gone to foot-tappin’ heaven!  

 

“Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” has that sweet, atmospheric sound you only get with “live” recordings.  Robert’s vocal floats on top of the tasty soloing of both Leech and Lougens. This is probably my favorite track on the disc!

 

Track 6, “Barefootin’” is written by Robert Parker..but…no not THIS Robert Parker, it’s another…oh, Hell…just listen to it…Got the horns, got the harp, got Willie Haddath…It just cooks!

 

The live set wraps up with the Rock Bottom smoker, “Live My Life Too Fast”, a great chance for Jeremy Keyes to air out his harmonica! A mid-tempo foot-stomper, the tune just feels good!

 

I first ran into Freightrain when he was with Rock Bottom & the Cutaways, then with the Jimmy Griswold Band…In both cases I just loved his interaction with Grizz’ guitar!   On this record he mixes it up with Buffalo guitar stalwarts Willie Haddath and Jony James as well as the very impressive Grace Lougen.  I think you’re gonna’ enjoy this!





Robert "Freightrain" Parker 
"Freightrain Live"  
By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro © August 2016 
Mary4music


Although "Freightrain Live" is Robert "Freightrain" Parker's debut release, by no means is he the new kid on the block. Quite the contrary, this seasoned veteran bassist has: toured with Rock Bottom, Sherman Robertson, Paul Reddick, Big Bill Morganfield and more; he's been the go to guy for the likes of Joe Beard, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Mike Morgan and many others while they performed in the Western New York area; and he's appeared on well over a dozen recordings by various artists. Now he's moved up front and center and doing a damn good job in the spot. 

For this live performance, the band consists of: Robert on bass and vocals; Grace Lougen on guitar; Greg Leech on organ; and Damone A-Miracale Jackson on drums. Throughout the show, special guests include: Willie Haddath and Jony James on guitar; Robert's brother, Ken Parker on sax; Jim Bohm on trumpet; and Jeremy Keyes on harmonica. The disc includes eight cover tracks recorded live at The Sportsmen's Tavern in Buffalo, NY and an original, bonus studio track. Averaging over eight minutes per track, the nine tracks total over seventy-five minutes of pure listening pleasure. 

The opening track is an instrumental titled "Cannonball Shuffle". It's a perfect way for the band to introduce themselves to their live, and listening, audience. It's a basic shuffle, with everyone in a tight groove and being individually highlighted as the lead gets passed around. And right about now, we're all wanting more. 

Next up is "Up The Line" and on it we get to hear some lengthy individual skills in action. With it being quite the funky track, it's a gimme that Robert and Damone are just killing it on the bass and drums. With that said, it's the middle of the track where the sparks start to really fly. It begins with Greg cutting loose with over a two minute organ lead that turns into an all out organ/bass/drum orgy. Then, not to be outdone, Grace cuts loose with her own two plus minute guitar highlight and things just got even hotter. Super track. 

Much of the same takes place on "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" with some of Roberts very soulful vocals added to all that funk...and I do mean funk. Midway through this one, Robert goes into a bass lead that's a total definition of the word. 

When I saw that the credits listed Robert Parker as the writer of this next track I actually contacted him to dispute that fact. In an email, I expressly said "Robert, I don't believe you were the writer of "Barefootin". His reply was "You are right, it was written by the other Robert Parker and when I write a song I use Robert C. Parker". Funny! Now, about the performance. It's one of the two tracks that feature both Ken on the sax and Jim on the trumpet and adding those guys to this already monster rhythm section is crazy good. It's also one of the tracks that features Jeremy blowin' smoke out of the harp and Willie Haddath smokin' it on guitar. More great stuff. 

So, "Live My Life Too Fast" being the last song of the live performance, ya think it rocked? Of course it did.....for the whole thirteen minutes. Along with it's usual masterful rhythm - still including the fabulous horns, what I'm hearing from Jeremy on harp has me searching the Internet so I can find out more about this maestro; and now, Jony James has joined the band and is doing tag team leads with Grace on several killer guitar leads. This had to be one hell of a show and I'm sure that everyone in the audience agreed. FYI, for those of you who may never have known his real name, this track was written by David York, a.k.a Rock Bottom. 

Other tracks on "Freightrain Live" include: "Out Of Site, Out Of Mind", "Think It Over", "I Need Somebody" and "Club 48". 

Thinking aloud here, should Robert "Freightrain" Parker take the steps to make this disc eligible for BMA consideration, we could very well see a name we've never seen before on the "Instrumentalist Bass" list. 

For more on Robert and the band just go to www.robertfreightrainparker.com. As usual, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.



 



Norwegian Blues News

Swing from the very first stone's throw

 

Robert Parker is from Buffalo, New York, where this live CD is recorded. For around 20 years ago needed Parker new challenges and relocated to Florida. Here he was joined by his mentor, Johnny Copeland, and he soon came into contact with the legend 

Rock Bottom. A guy he played and toured with outward 90s. He also toured with, among others Sherman Robertson and Paul 

Reddick, and when I take a look at the old Sandy Atkinson washers mine, so he shows up there too.

'Freightrain Live' was recorded at The Sportsmen's Tavern in Buffalo, New York in January. Yes, he is thus home again. The 

band consists of Grace Lougen, guitar, Greg Leech, organ, and Damone 'A Miracale' Jackson, drums. On the guest list are local favorites like Willie Haddath and Jony James, both guitars, Jeremy Keyes on harmonica, Jim Bohm trumpet and Freightrain’s 

brother Ken Parker on sax is in a blistering solo on 'Barefootin' '.

None of concert CDROM eight tracks are self-written; we bus cover songs written by everything from Robben Ford to Allan 

Toussaint, via namesake Robert “Little Bobby” Parker, David York (Rock Bottom) and Little Walter. One hears instantly that he has a similarly capable band in the back, turns doing it from the very first stone's throw in 'Cannonball Shuffle'. The 

undersigned fell well primarily for the great organ work of Greg Leech, but preserved, guitar work of Grace Lougen was not 

far away. 

Parker's bass is of course also marked with the soundstage - but bass-solo da .... - I'm just asking, but it is thus that we get in Freightrain’s version of Toussaint track 'Get Out of My Life, Woman'!

The self-written song they have saved for last. Actually, 'Club 48' a studio bonus cut, an instrumental written by Parker and Lougen, but when it all comes to all, so it does well not really matter so much. One gets guaranteed a nice little time 

before the CD player with 'Freightrain Live', Okay that.

So one can well just quit with the assertion that Robert Parker is the first true American elected to the Blues Hall of Fame, -  American Indian who he is ...

Nya: weh (Peace and Love).