Jay N. Miller
Their website says they’re a band dedicated to the idea that music should be fun, and after their long and colorful career, the Fat City Band certainly seem to have achieved that goal. One of the most beloved and enduring musical institutions on the South Shore, the quintet enters its 47th year with a series of live dates and an expanded lineup that makes it a septet, if not an octet.
The Fat City Band will perform on September 4 at one of their iconic venues, the reopened C-Note in Hull. In addition to returning to the live music scene, the band has also spent most of the pandemic creating a new album, which is due out later this year.
There have been line-up changes throughout the band’s run, but the current roster is, as usual, a true South Shore map.
Founding member Paul Redmond, of Dorchester, is the lead singer and harmonica player, and also the source of the band’s original material, which quite often includes the kind of comedic turns of phrase or absurd situations that keep even the deepest blues light. .
Drummer John Litwin, from Hull, is around 30 years old with the band under his belt, while guitarist Mark Andersen, from Hanover, is 21. Andersen has a unique story for a guy in a roots rock/rhythm and blues outfit. He was previously in Dolly Parton’s band and married to her sister.
Bassist Joe Baglione, a Hingham native who now lives in Halifax (“I used to live in Hull. … I was just doing ‘H’ towns,” he deadpanned) celebrates 15 years with Fat City.
Keyboardist Rich Cesarini has over four years of service in this stint, but he had also served a few years earlier when original keyboardist Joe Micarelli (Hingham) was involved in other projects.
The Fat City Band’s expansion plans simply boil down to wanting to have a horn section all the time now, instead of just on special occasions. Trombonist Bob “The Breeze” Holfelder hails from Franklin, and saxophonist Marcus Sholar lives in Quincy. Frequent sax sub, or eighth man, Mike Niccoli is a resident of East Bridgewater.
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“We spent our time on ‘zombie apocalypse’ writing and recording a new album,” said Baglione, who is also the band’s business manager. “We really enjoyed bringing in the horns and right now we have seven or eight new original tracks all made for the new album. As we come out of the pandemic, we’ve played probably eight or nine shows since July. We played a private event at Scituate Harbor Yacht Club, and also played Scituate Heritage Days, for example, and we also played The Music Room in Yarmouth, a great new venue, and also at Chan’s in Woonsocket, (Rhode Island ).
“Like every other band, we lost gigs because places went down, like 9 Wallis in Beverly, that we liked to play,” Baglione said. “Also, we had done three shows a summer at the Blues Barge at the Boston Harbor Hotel, but they cut their schedule, so we were doing one but it rained. But the music comes back and people come out to hear it again.
The Fat City Band has played so many gigs at the C-Note that many fans might consider it their home base. That relationship naturally continued as the club struggled to survive during the lockdown, and the band played a few outdoor fundraising shows at Glastonbury Abbey in Hull.
“(Bar manager) Barbara Rhind was the driving force behind this whole effort to keep the C-Note alive,” Baglione said. “She’s made it her mission to keep this place alive, and it’s so good to see them reopen. I went there a few weeks ago when they had a soft opening, with the band Mojo Mama from Colorado. Their bass player happened to be a former student of mine, Paul Ragulski, who is from Hingham, so it was a fun night of catch-up.
Reached in a separate interview, Rhind praised the band, noting that she has worked with them for 40 years, dating back to former Bell Buoy in her hometown of Scituate and throughout her long stay with Jonathan Swift. at Harvard Square.
“They will always put a smile on your face and make people dance,” Rhind said. “Probably my favorite band to see at a party. Without a doubt, one of the most professional and hardworking bands I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. The Fat City Band: a good time guaranteed.
The lineup expansion was kind of an organic move, simply because everyone in the band loved playing with the extra power of the horns. For much of the Fat City Band’s run, the “horn section” consisted of Diamond Jim Brady’s tenor sax, but when health issues forced Brady out of the bandstand about a decade ago, the Corns have become a less featured aspect. That started to change with the band’s 2012 album, “Done Deal.”
“Diamond Jim played with the band for about 103 years,” Baglione said with a laugh, “and after he had to retire, we brought in different people. But that’s after that ‘Done Deal’ album. that we’ve all realized that an expanded horn section makes us sound so good, why not expand the horn section?For the past four years or so, we’ve used two horns regularly and three horns whenever we feel like it. could.
Around 2005, a local scribe named Miller described the music of the Fat City Band as operating “in this territory where the roots of rock ‘n’ roll were formed, with rhythm and blues, swing, jump blues, New Orleans gumbo and boogie woogie all mingling is a smoky roadhouse jam session.
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All these years later, the music is still veering all over the music map, but rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and good dance times are still the staple.
“Along with our writing, Paul Redmond is still our primary lyricist,” Baglione said. “He’ll come into the studio or rehearsal with an idea, and then Mark, Rich and I will sit down and play a tune to go with his lyrical idea. Often Paul will have some sort of riff in his head and we translate that into a melody. It’s almost always a collaboration with all of us in the band.
“Paul is really good at coming up with lyrics that people can laugh at. He calls people out, clowns around and just has his own original way of telling a story. We try to keep it fun and I would say most of our material Fat City’s music is always upbeat and danceable, but we also like to add some musical twists.
As generations of local music fans know, frontman Redmond is a key part of the band’s appeal. While he had a daytime career as a distributor of Pepperidge Farm products and still plays hockey, Redmond’s energy seems endless on stage. We remember he once confided in his respect for the Montreal Canadiens, but while that might get him excommunicated from Dorchester, it also fits his good-natured taunting stage persona.
“Paul puts on a show no matter how many people are in the audience,” Baglione said with a laugh. “He’s the one who keeps us all energized and strong. He’s the leader of the bandstand, there’s no doubt about it. I take care of the business side and we don’t make a lot of money, but we make enough. to fund the things we want to do. It’s not like we make a living just doing music. But these days, we either get paid well, or we don’t. Core members are all in our 60s, and the days of us justifying ourselves with exposure or whatever are over, we do it now because we love it.
“The crowds we’ve seen so far have been so grateful to be outside again and to hear music,” Baglione noted. “If the pandemic has done anything, it seems to have re-energized music fans, as we’re seeing an enthusiasm like we’ve never seen before. Hopefully this continues and we continue to push past this past year and a half and places like C-Note can thrive like never before.
If you are going to
What: The Fat City Group
When: 9 p.m. September 4
Or: The C-Note, 159 Nantasket Avenue, Hull
Information: 781-925-4300, cnotehull.com
Other opportunities to see The Fat City Band
September 18: Cape Cod Canal Music Festival at Waterfront Park
September 25: Cisco Brewery, New Bedford
October 23: The C-Note, Case
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