Pottsville PA Band Network

9/15/18-Scott Sharrard w/The Atlanta Cafe Band Live @ Roy's Hall, Blairstown, NJ

Scott Sharrard

with Special Guests The Atlanta Cafe Band

Live At Roy’s Hall, Blairstown, NJ


By: Sharon Ruth Frantz

Pottsville PA Band Network

Saturday afternoon, 9/15/18 I left my home and traveled 3 hours and 108 miles from Minersville PA arriving at the beautiful Roy’s Hall in Blairstown, NJ  at 6:25 pm to attend the event featuring The Stillwater NJ Based The Atlanta Cafe Band opening for Scott Sharrard and his band.

I was early, so I decided to grab a bite to eat at one of my favorite restaurants located across the street from Roy’s Hall  by the name of The Post Time Pub.  

As always I was greeted by their friendly staff who took my order.  My meal was, as always, very tasty and hit the spot.

 After spending time with their patrons talking about Roy’s Hall and all the wonderful local NJ native bands and musicians we actually all knew such as Peter Karp, Joe Cirotti, and The Atlanta Cafe Band etc, it was finally time to head over across the street to Roy’s Hall.    

Roy's Hall

 I then walked over across the street, and proceeded up the steps and into the beautiful Roy’s Hall and when I did I was greeted by their friendly staff who checked me in.

I then chatted with they and the owners Mark & Stephanie Clifford who always also have a warm welcome for me whenever I attend an event at their beautiful Roy’s Hall.  

Roy’s Hall is actually one of my favorite NJ venues since I’ve actually traveled there on many occasions these past 6 years.

I've enjoyed many wonderfully talented bands and musicians who've graced the beautiful stage such as Only Living Boy NJ, Crobot, Melissa Lucciola and her band, Peter Karp and The Roadshow Band, The Big Drops, Michael Richard Klics & his band, The James Abbott Band, Kinky Friedman, Brian Molnar, Joe Cirotti, Milkweed Trio, & now The Atlanta Cafe Band with Scott Sharrard. 

So after checking in when it was time we excitedly walked up the gentle incline of the hallway to the entry archway and through the curtain to take our seats in the beautiful theater’s main room.  

This beautiful theater takes me back to my childhood when I used to visit the elegant Capitol Theater in my hometown of Pottsville PA  and to a time when the “Theater” was THE place to see a live performance, be it a symphony orchestra, an opera, a movie or a Band such as we were there to enjoy on this particular evening.

Upon my entering the theater I took a seat on one of the comfy couches they have set up on on the floor a few feet away from the stage.  A few minutes later our good friend, The owner of Roy's Hall, Mark Clifford announced our mutual good friends, The Atlanta Cafe Band.

Actually, as I said, The Atlanta Cafe Band is one of many of my beloved NJ Bands and I have the honor of working with them for promotions, booking, photo & video shoots, etc.   They are based out of Stillwater NJ and feature the talents of Charlie Ohlweiler (Lead vocals/guitar), Paul Sobolewski (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Wallace Wrede (Bass/backing vocals), Alfonse Novelli(Keys) and Bob Vnencak (drums).

The Atlanta Cafe Band, who after 40 years on the music scene and having played hundreds of shows, are certainly coming into their own. The members have shared stages over the years both individually and as a band with National acts such as Sonny Landreth, Blackfoot/Skynyrd, Mickey Gilley, Hank Williams Jr., and Tedeschi Trucks just to name a few.

Their own compositions of blues, country and southern rock styled tunes, along with a different take on selected covers, has garnered them a dedicated following in the tri-state area and I feel it's never too late for that following to grow even more! 

The Atlanta Cafe Band

After Mr. Clifford's introduction, The Atlanta Cafe Band then treated us to a great opening tune with a truly wonderful cover of one of Gary Moore’s hits “Midnight Blues”. 

I’ve heard The Atlanta Cafe Band perform this cover many times but, although they've graced this stage many times this was my first seeing and hearing them perform it on this grand stage with it’s beautiful lighting.  The setting, lighting, stage, sound, and room really brought their true talents out and they performed this cover with such emotion and blues fire the likes of which I’d never experienced from them before!

Throughout their performance I was in awe of Charlie Ohlweiler’s killer vocals, & guitar playing,  Paul Sobolewski’s smokin guitar riffs which were reminiscent of Mr. Moore himself, Alfonse Novelli’s groovin Keys, Wallace Wrede adding his infectious Bass grooves, and all backed & supported by the beat & rhythm of Bob Vnencak on drums.

I truly believe that Gary Moore would have been quite proud to have experienced their performance!

It was a true tribute to this blues Icon whom we all loved and will never forget.  

They then continued on with another wonderful  tribute to another blues guitarist Icon, Mr. Stevie Ray Vaughn with their blues packed original entitled “Stevie Ray”.

Next, they performed their original “Playin To Live” but before they began Charlie Ohlweiler (Lead Vocals/Guitar) explained to us the honor they’d been given that after they’d had the wonderful opportunity to open for guitar great Sonny Landreth also at Roy’s Hall, that Landreth had actually loved their performance and music so much that he asked if he could contribute to their recent CD release entitled “American Spirit” and the band then wrote “Playin To Live” for Mr. Landreth.  Mr. Landreth can be heard playing on their album “American Spirit” on this track.

The Atlanta Cafe Band then treated us to the sultry blues laden original track “Long Cold Nights”.

This original began with the groove of Alfonse Novelli on keys, and a bluesy groove guitar solo by Paul Sobolewski reminiscent of the greats such as Moore, Vaughn, B.B. King, etc. 

Charlie Ohlweiler then took the mic and delivered a stunning emotion filled vocal with his seasoned vocal range that along with his guitar playing left me breathless!

Add to that the magic of the barrelhouse keyboard solo again by Alfonse, and then Paul and Charlie joined together for more fire filled blues riffs featuring Paul’s guitar solo, backed by Charlie on his guitar backed by the rest of the band.  Charlie & Paul

By the time they were finished with this one we, myself and the audience, well  I believe we all were left, as I said, breathless!!!

It’s not often you hear a band deliver such a fantastic performance especially of true blues in the caliber of the greats!! They’ve truly mastered and play the blues in it’s truest form!! Not an easy task that’s for sure.

The Atlanta Cafe Band then ended their set with their original entitled “Jeopardy” a song also featured as one of the tracks from their recent release “American Spirit” that has the honor of being in rotation at New Jersey Stage’s Online Radio Station Asbury Music.com.   

The Lyrics tell the story of band members trying to find a woman or vice versa if sung by a woman could be about a woman trying to find a man, who truly understands the “Life” of a traveling band and musician.  

It takes a special kind of woman or man to love and understand the life of a touring musician who more often than not feels that their actual only true friend is the road and playing and singing their music for their adoring audiences. Because Music isn’t just a hobby it’s who they are and it is a part of them.

When they ended their set it was wonderful to hear the couple sitting next to me who’d never had the opportunity to hear and see them live exclaim how much they’d enjoyed their set and that they now will definitely keep a look out for them to play live again!!

After a short intermission we returned to the main theater and were greeted by Mr. Scott Sharrard and his talented band featuring the talents of Brandon Morrison on Bass, Eric Kalb on drums, and Roy Dunlap on keys.  

Scott Sharrard is, for those of you who may not know, a 2018 Grammy Nominated Musician who has been called “one of the best Blues/R&B guitarists in the country” by Billboard Magazine. He was also a Longtime writing partner, musical director, and guitarist for Gregg Allman.
Scott actually released his own fifth studio album entitled "Saving Grace" on 9/21/2018

Scott Sharrard and his band began their set with an original entitled “Shadow Blues” which was featured on Mr. Sharrard’s last release.

I, who had never had the honor or opportunity to hear Scott Sharrard live, was immediately drawn in to the feel of this slow burn of a true blues ballad delivered by this young man who has a truly powerful velvet voice.

You could tell he truly feels the emotion behind the words he’s singing and he nails it straight from his heart.  He also delivered a smoldering guitar solo that took our breath away!

Sadly I didn’t capture the whole set on video, but the next one that I am so very thankful I did capture was Sharrard’s original entitled “Words Can’t Say”, fresh off the new album “Saving Grace” and seasoned with an earthy, sultry, R&B texture and resonance.

It’s definitely stirred by Scott’s heartfelt, gospel, inflected vocals and sauced up by he & the band with soulful, steamy, guitar riffs by Sharrard on his beautiful richly toned Gibson backed with Brandon Morrison on Bass and the fat marbled chords brought out by Roy Dunlap on his venerable Hammond.

All I could think of was “Wow, What a velvet voice this young man has, and the range!”  I got chills and those familiar goosebumps popped up, like I always get when I experience true music magic!

Oh, and especially when he reached those high notes, which are remarkably expressive with a wide range that extends up to a high D above middle C brimming with passion, sensitivity and color.

This performance of this beautiful ballad so reminded me of the style of Marvin Gaye, it’s a song you’ll definitely want to put on the stereo for a romantic evening with your beloved.  

Next up was “She Can’t Wait”  an uptempo R&B influenced original.   Sharrard explained that this was a song he wrote almost 20 years prior and he’d decided to give it a reboot and included it on his brand new release “Saving Grace”.

"She Can't Wait" is a song truly reminiscent of that beloved Motown sound and I so wanted to get up and dance to it!  It’s such a “Feel Good” tune sure to be a hit!!

“Everything A Good Man Needs” the last known original song from Gregg Allman & Scott Sharrard was up next with vocals & lead slide guitar by Sharrard.  

“Everything A Good Man Needs” is also  featured on Sharrard’s brand new release “Saving Grace”.

The iconic Taj Mahal guest appears as lead vocalist for this track on "Saving Grace" but actually, and no offense to Mr. Mahal, but I actually loved it better by Sharrard and his band during this particular live performance. 

Mr. Sharrard, by this time, had won my heart, and had truly reached deep into my soul!  

S Sharrard Two

I was completely taken by his soulful vocals, and by his playing of his beautiful Gibson as well as his extremely talented band.

We were sadly coming to the end of the evening when Mr. Sharrard and his band continued on with “My Only True Friend” which  is actually the Grammy nominated original co- written by Sharrard and Gregg Allman and incidentally is the first track of the Album “Southern Blood” and the only original on the final studio album of The Gregg Allman Band.

The performance by Sharrard & his band of “My Only True Friend” from its stately introduction through a wrenching guitar solo at the close, the track exuded a surefooted classic-rock grandeur we don't hear much anymore, yet Scott  kept it on an intimate scale. 

The lyrics and soul of the song were brought to life by Sharrard's stunning vocals filled with emotion. 

Especially the lyrics repeated throughout "You and I both know, the road is my only true friend".  These lyrics, which I believe were actually an admission by Mr. Allman that rings true for he and I'm sure many musicians and bands who tour extensively, it becomes part of them.  

Scott  delivered a stunningly beautiful tribute to Mr. Allman and Allman’s brother Duane.  Actually unknown by Gregg Allman, Sharrard had secretly wrote the song in the voice of Gregg's late brother, Duane Allman, as though he was speaking to Gregg.  

When I heard the lyrics from beginning to end, I could almost feel Mr. Gregg Allman's presence and it struck me almost as if it, the song, and it's lyrics were actually a letter like he had been confiding to a friend, and in this case to his family, friends, and fans who loved him and were left behind at his passing.  

It was almost as if Mr. Sharrard was letting Mr. Allman speak through he &  his vocals, distilling hours of stock-taking and introspection by Mr. Allman.

It almost seemed as if  Allman was sharing it with all of us who were in the audience that evening through Mr. Sharrard’s soulful and emotion filled performance. 

Mr. Sharrard's vocals truly brought out Allman's personality, his soul, plainspoken, like always, and the casual air that added disarming resonance to what I felt was clearly a farewell statement.

I believe at the time he & Scott Sharrard co-wrote the lyrics Mr. Allman sensed time was running out and I believe that he wanted to convey his feelings through the lyrics so He & Mr. Sharrard  framed the act of roaming in romantic terms when they co wrote this beautiful ballad.
Several times throughout the lyrics it states "I hope you're haunted by the music of my soul, when I'm gone" — and to be honest, it's hard not to be haunted, because here's Mr. Sharrard whom, as I said earlier,  I could almost feel was channeling Mr. Allman's spirit, explaining through the lyrics and his vocals, Allman’s devotion to the mythic transient place where Mr. Allman felt most alive. Where things made sense.

By the time Mr. Sharrard finished I was in tears and I think we can all agree we were lucky to have shared a bit of the ride and the message that Gregg Allman left us especially through Mr. Sharrard's beautifully executed performance with his talented band backing him.

 We truly will forever be haunted by the music of Mr. Allman's soul now that he's passed especially every time Mr. Sharrard takes to the stage and performs this epic song, a legacy left by Mr. Allman. 

Then just when we thought they'd finished the song and the set, Scott and his band continued on with him delivering a fantastic solo blues intro reminiscent of the greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and then he & the band smoothly segued into another original, the Texas tinged road house rocker, "Love Like Kerosene", also penned by Sharrard & Allman.

Scott's vocals truly channeled Stevie Ray Vaughn’s blues & Gregg Allman's Southern Rock in the best way, that is straight from the heart.  To this he added burning guitar riffs that immediately tore through my body &  soul, again bringing goosebumps and chills!   Then he & the band finished up leaving us wanting more!  Which Scott and the band graciously returned to the stage for an encore of one more ending the show on a high note.

Like I’d mentioned earlier all throughout the show I felt chills and goosebumps as though I was definitely in the presence of truly great musicians between The Atlanta Cafe Band and Scott Sharrard and his band in that classic “where were you when” kind of moment.  Scott & the band then left the stage and we all made our way to the lobby where we were able to meet and greet all the members from both bands, talk with them, get pictures, and have our official posters signed. 

Scott Sharrard and BandLet me close by saying I highly recommend catching both The Atlanta Cafe Band and Scott Sharrard and his band while you still can at these smaller venues because I don’t think it’ll be long till we see them headlining stadium shows, filling the airwaves of all the major radio stations, especially the blues stations, &  winning awards, Grammy’s, etc.

Again, I’d like to thank everyone for another memorable event that I won’t soon forget!!

Oh please be sure to be on the lookout for both band’s new albums too!

The Atlanta Cafe Band  recent Album “American Spirit” can be found on all the major digital media sites such as iTunes.

You can also find the album and more by visiting their website www.theatlantacafeband.com

Scott Sharrard’s brand new Album “Saving Grace” dropped 9/21/18 and you can find it also on iTunes and more at his website www.scottsharrard.com

All Photos and Videos courtesy of Sharon Ruth Frantz Proprietor of Pottsville PA Band Network.





Leave a comment: