|Veteran rock ‘n’ rollers with the blues in their hearts, The Name Droppers, have toured the world backing blues rock guitar icon, Johhny Winter, and East Coast legend, Charlie Karp, who earned notoriety as a teenager playing guitar with Buddy Miles. The quartet of guitarist Rafe Klein, Hall of Fame drummer Bobby “T” Torello, Grammy-winning bassist Scott Spray and keyboardist Ron Rifkin joined forces in 2019 and are set to release their third album, Blue Diamonds. The collection of muscular tunes comprises seven new originals including a song dedicated to Ukraine along with two beloved blues classics and a bonus live track. The guests on the project included guitarists Al Ferrante and Jay Willie, vocalists Heather Joseph, Simone Brown, Carol Sylvan, and the entire Horizon Music Choir, with Bill Holloman (Chic, Danny Gatton) adding saxophone and original Paul Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist Mark Naftalin sitting in on piano.
Jersey shore rocker, “Blue Diamonds,” opens the set with Klein lamenting how his substance abuse led to losing his lady love. Bobby T leads the crew thru the scathing rebuke of heartbreaker fashioned over a Chicago Blues riff “Hollywood.” The sentimental 12-bar blues “Just Come Home,” has Holloman’s mournful tenor echoing Klein’s pleading vocals. The quartet burns through Bobby “Blue” Bland standard “Further On Up The Road,” with flair, dropping in a little nod to other oft played chestnuts like the seasoned pros they are. Jay Willie shows off his skill at slide guitar and Johnny Winter influence while Bobby T name checks several Windy City landmarks on the Bo Diddley Beat road trip ramble “Back To Chicago.”
The bittersweet soul ballad, “New York,” is a gritty Brill Building Pop throwback. The legend Charlie Karp reappears from the great beyond to play lead guitar on “Red House,” a session saved from the vaults and posthumously released here in tribute to a dear departed friend and consummate bluesman. The Name Droppers, angered by what is happening in Ukraine, decided to write a song to express their solidarity with the people of that country. The symphonic blues rocker “Ukraine We Stand,” was released as a single with proceeds going to charities in Ukraine to aid refugees fleeing the country. Brooklyn born Carole Sylvan lends her sought after vocals to the bumping shuffle, “Are You Lonely?,” and Willie drops in more great slide guitar for good measure.
The showstopper fan favorite rock ‘n’ roll number, “Blue Guitar,” gives us a taste of The Name Droppers live show and possibly a hopeful glimpse at the follow up album to Blue Diamonds.
Rick J Bowen
Original members of Johnny Winter and Charlie Karp, the band evolved in 2019 after the death of Charlie Karp. Bobby T Torello is a member of the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame, who played and toured with Michael Bolton, Grace Slick, Johnny Winter, and more. Scott Spray is an award-winning bass player who played and recorded with Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter, and more. His work on Johnny Winter’s album “Step Back” won him a Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2015. Both played with blues legend Johnny Winter. Rafe Klein, (guitar, vocals) and Ron Rifkin (piano, vocals) played and recorded with Charlie Karp who was Buddy Miles’ guitar player when he was a teenager.
Rafe Klein – Rafe is a songwriter, and no stranger to the music scene, as he played alongside blues legend Charlie Karp for many years and co-wrote many songs that appeared on Charlie Karp’s last album “Back to You” (Courtesy of Red Parlor Records) and “Love” (Carole Sylvan’s album featuring The Name Droppers).
Bobby “T” Torello – Bobby has an extensive career, most notably as the former drummer for the Johnny Winter Band. He was inducted into the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame and the New England Music Hall of Fame, serves as an ambassador for WFIII drums, and has served as a session drummer on some of rock’s greatest recordings.
Scott Spray – Scott was the bassist for the Johnny Winter Band and was also inducted into the New England Music Hall Of Fame. Scott has an extensive career having played with some of the biggest names in rock and roll. His credits span decades, and his bass work on Johnny Winter’s album “Step Back” earned him a Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2015.
Ron Rifkin- Ron is a keyboard powerhouse who has played on numerous sessions and played alongside Charlie Karp live and in the studio for many years. His unique style of playing, and diverse singing voice puts him in high demand as a CT session player, and he has many credits under his belt.