April 22, 2012
Book & Stage, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
During the day (and for many nights), the Book & Stage is the sports bar at Las Vegas’ fashionable Cosmopolitan Hotel. However, gametime does occasionally turn to showtime there. A couple of nights a week, after the games are over, the bar hosts free concerts with up-and-coming bands.
The young L.A. band, Vintage Trouble closed out their 5-night stint there with nearly ninety minutes of hot ‘n’ sweaty rock ‘n’ soul music. The band is led by charismatic singer Ty Taylor. His muscular soulful singing recalls Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and other Stax men, while his hip-swinging showmanship projects a bit of James Brown. During the set, he was a man in motion – strutting on stage, dancing on the adjacent bar top and even jumping into the crowd. In his retro-looking suit, and his between-song conversation, Taylor exuded a Sixties-era vibe that was polished but with a genuine sincerity so he didn’t seem too slick.
Backing Taylor up was the mighty rockin’ trio of guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson. They delivered a spirited rock sound that had blues roots but also was just no-frills rock ‘n’ roll. There were moments (as on their cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Baby Get It On”) when you thought the band suggested Redding fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd. Colt, looking a little Kid Rock-ish in his lanky blond hair and black fedora, ripped off some raw riffs to compliment Taylor’s smoother moves. Besides thumping out a powerful backbeat, Danielson also made his presence done through his animated performance.
The group’s tunes were uniformly strong although their music was also well rooted in the soul and rock sounds of the past. Their original “Total Strangers,” contains a “na, na, na” part that brings to mind Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” and their encore cover of the Beatles’ “A Little Help Of My Friends” drew inspiration from the Joe Cocker version, although Taylor took it to a more soulful, but less histrionic place than Cocker did.
At their best, however, Vintage Trouble updates the music of their influences, creating something that is compelling and vibrant in their own right. Tunes like “You Got To Believe,” “Nancy Lee” and “Nobody Told Me” all came across as powerful, memorable tunes. The band did have a tendency to extend out their songs with codas. While this might be part of their live performance strategy, they did it frequently enough that it became a bit too noticeable.
This band, whose debut disc The Bomb Shelter Sessions has just been released, does seemed prime to be noticed. Taylor engages the audience as both a dynamic singer and an entertaining frontman, while the band serves up a potent rock ‘n’ soul music. Although they are still tied up a bit too much in their influences, Vintage Trouble are definitely a band to keep an eye on.