|Not to be daunted by the particularly challenging year that is 2020, guitar journeyman Peter Veteska reloaded, regrouped, and recharged his band, Blues Train, to complete his fifth album. “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side,” a 10-song set, is a departure from his previous jazz and funk influences, with the renowned hard-working guitarist going for a purer rock and blues sound.
Peter V and longtime bandmate drummer, Alex D’Agnese, joined forces with rock solid bassist Coo Mo Jhee, and legendary blues, rock, and funk keyboardist, Jeff Levine, who has recorded and toured with Joe Cocker, Hall and Oates, Clarence Clemons, the Chambers Brothers and John Fogerty, to name just a few.
The quartet is joined by special guests, Mikey Junior on vocals and blues harp, powerhouse vocalist Jen Barnes, and Delaware blues guitar veteran Roger Girke. The sessions were expertly engineered by Joseph DeMaio at Shorefire studios in Long Branch, New Jersey capturing the group in a pure wide-open recording, while a hurricane was brewing outside the doors.
The blues party begins with Peter V playing the role of a man bewitched on the slinky rocker ‘Am I Wrong Pretty Baby,’ as Mikey Junior echoes his lyrical desperation with greasy blues harp. The hard-working Jen Barnes, who leads her own band on the Jersey shore, joins Peter for a cover of the 1960 Dinah Washington and Brook Benton hit ‘Baby You’ve Got What It Takes,’ reimagining the swinging tune as a hot guitar driven Texas Blues shuffle that amps up the steamy vocal interplay. The groovy dance track, ‘Running Like A Dog,’ features duel lead lines on Stratocaster and Hammond B-3, showcasing the affective new partnership between Peter V and Levine.
Mikey Junior slips back in with the band for the jam ’I’ve Been Missing You,’ a sweet swinging acoustic blues number. And the whole band stretches out on the Swinging ‘You Give Me Loving,’ before Peter gets sentimental on the rat-pack styled ‘Learning The Blues.’ D’Agnese throws down a great New Orleans boogaloo beat on the other fine dance track ‘Thinking And Drinking.’ Peter enlisted another hard-working musician from the mid-Atlantic region, Roger Girke, to trade vocals and guitar solos on a free-wheeling cover of Ray Charles’ 1958 classic ‘Heartbreaker.’
Blues Train cruises at full steam through a rousing version of the Willie Cobbs’ standard ‘You Don’t Love Me,’ paying homage to the popular extended jam version made famous by the Allman Brothers with roaring organ and guitar solos on the album’s longest track. Peter V closes the set with the title track ‘Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side,’ revealing the philosophy behind his rebellious nature and showing off his formidable guitar skills on the album’s dramatic finale.
The drive and determination in the hearts of Peter Veteska & Blues Train have resulted in a strong presentation old and new fans will enjoy.
Rick J Bowen
After a long hiatus from the music scene, lead guitar man and vocalist Peter Veteska formed the original Peter V Blues Train in late 2013. In 2015 the band released its first album – “Peter V Blues Train,” which the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation selected as o send to the IBC in Memphis. By 2016, they had followed up quickly with another release, “On Track,” and Peter was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.
While playing venues like the legendary B.B. King’s in New York City and festivals throughout the tri-state area in 2017, the band released its third recording, “Running Out of Time,” which reached RMR’s Top 10 and garnered glowing reviews from across the world, as well as a feature article in Big City Rhythm and Blues magazine.
“Shaken But Not Deterred,” released in 2018, peaked at Number #3 on RMR. In 2018 through 2019 Peter V Blues Train had two albums in the Top 100 RMR contemporary blues category and charted in 14 countries worldwide.
Peter, along with Blues Train drummer Alex D’Agnese and bass player Coo Mo Jhee, began work on the band’s fifth music project in 2019, while performing as far north as Rockland Maine and as far south as Brooksville FL as one of Camping With The Blues Festival’s featured acts. “Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side,” released in late 2020, features guest artists from New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania and includes six original tracks as well as four reinterpreted blues classics.
Now performing and recording as Peter Veteska and Blues Train, the band’s latest release reflects a return to a purer blues sound and a departure from previous albums that were rooted in the blues but in infused with elements of jazz and rock.