Homegrown Jersey Soul-Meet the Sensational Soul Cruisers
Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s almost guarantees that you are a lover of classic R&B, Motown, the Sound of Philadelphia and, of course the Jersey Shore Sound. The Jersey Shore sound evolved from pre-Beatles rock and roll, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and the urban culture of the Mid-Atlantic States. Its founding fathers and mothers skillfully mixed keyboard, brass, and horn-based arrangements from its R&B, soul and gospel roots. It even incorporates some funky instruments like the accordions, pipe organs and the glockenspiel, harkening back to the sounds of Jersey Shore amusement parks on a hot summer day. As someone famous once said, “you can dance to it.”
Historically, soul, R & B, Motown and disco, were natural progressions of each other, blending sultry vocals and pulsing beats that made the 60’s and 70’s some of the best musical decades ever. Luckily, there are still bands that are true to that sound and that feeling that you get listening to and remembering that era in music.
Meet New Jersey’s own Sensational Soul Cruisers, an 11-man horn and vocal harmony group devoted to playing soul, R & B, Motown and disco. The Soul Cruisers origins go back to Freehold Borough with Eddie Testa and The Cruisers, an early progenitor of the Jersey Shore Sound. This band has come a very long way from the early days with Eddie Testa. Under the masterful guidance of Screamin’ Steve Barlotta, the Soul Cruisers have a cool, silky sound and vibe. “After the split with Eddie, I went on to become Gary US Bonds’ saxophonist & musical director from 1987 to 1998 during that time we backed up many of the oldies acts around the country,” Barlotta, leader and tenor saxophonist with the Cruisers said.
In the early 1990’s Barlotta decided to bring in four vocalist’s and play classic soul, R&B and Motown music. “We were all big fans of R&B, and it seemed like a natural fit paying homage and tribute to the classic R&B, soul and Motown groups of the 60's 70's and 80's.” Barlotta added.
The Soul Cruisers are:
Screamin' Steve Barlotta-Tenor Saxophone, Stan Tartas-Bass Guitar, Tom Jones-Keyboards Anthony Liberto-Drums, Steve Hyde-Trumpet, Joe Nappy-Guitar & Vocals, Will Williams-Vocals, Michael Hartsfield-Vocals, Taj Jay-Vocals, Alan Smith-Vocals, Pete Maurer-Trombone and Joey Stann-Baritone Saxophone.
We asked Barlotta about who influenced the group. “As for influences growing up in the late 60’s and 70’s you had the good fortune of listening to a great deal of classic a.m. radio which played everything including many of the songs we perform today.“ he said. A major influence on many of the band members was being exposed to such classic, timeless tunes. Another contributing factor was being fortunate enough to see and hear and or being a part of many of the great bands that have come out of Asbury Park, many of them with deep roots in the R&B sound. “The Connection to Freehold and Asbury Park is still very strong today. This is where we started some 27 years ago. We have been very fortunate over the past 27 years to play regularly at the Copacabana in NYC and to perform with many of our favorite contemporary artists in the business like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, The Emotions, Gloria Gaynor and Bon Jovi.” he added.
The Soul Cruisers will be playing a sold-out show at Tim McLooone’s Supper Club on December 9 in Asbury Park.
You’ll be able to catch the Sensational Soul Cruisers locally in 2018, at the Headliner in Neptune on Friday January 19, and iplay America in Freehold on Sunday March 11. For more information about the Soul Cruisers you can visit their website at http://soulcruisers.com/ or by calling Richard Goldberg (973)362-0500
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