06/16/07 11:10-12:10pm
Vintage Bar
White Plains, N.Y.

Concert review by Roger-Z (6/17/07)
Appeared in More Sugar, July 2007, P. 16A

I endeavored for nine years to catch The Sundown Band -- just a blip in their 31 years of their existence. Either they played too far away, started too late, or I was gigging with my own group. But this night worked out almost perfectly. They scheduled an appearance at 10 PM only a few blocks from my apartment. Who cares if 10:30 stretched to 11:10?

What a great joy to hear twin-guitar country rock played on a large stage with big amps. Make no mistake, these men riff just as well as the bands they cover. While taking pride in meticulously replicating the original arrangements, they don't shy from adding their own licks. The group consists of founding member Ronnie Pauls (lead vocals, guitar), Steve Mitchell (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Milito (lead vocals, keyboards), Fred Andreassi (bass), and Keith "Bam Bam" Michaels (drums).

The first set consisted of "Revival" (Allman Brothers), "I Know A Little" (Lynyrd Skynyrd), "Heard It In A Love Song" (Marshall Tucker), "I'm No Angel" (Gregg Allman), "La Grange" (ZZ Top), "There Goes Another Love Song (Outlaws), and "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Vocalist Jimmy Milito distinguished himself with a deep, resonant, baritone voice reminiscent of country singer Ronnie Milsap. His keyboard playing ranged from the barrelhouse piano romp of "Sweet Home Alabama" to the synthesized flute of "I Heard It In A Love Song." Ronnie Pauls stood out on Dickie Betts, country-rock, Les Paul guitar as well as singing lead on a number of tunes. Steve Mitchell added a taste of contemporary modern-rock to the proceeding with solos that included tapping and shredding. This worked particularly well on the band's arrangement of "La Grange." Throughout the night, the thundering drums of Keith Michaels locked with the melodic, snaking bass of Red Andreassi, propelling the music high into the stratosphere and then guiding it to a soft landing.

Sundown's three decades of playing manifests in the tightness and intricacy of their arrangements. I never appreciated all of the interlocking layers of "Sweet Home Alabama" until these musicians exquisitely illuminated them. Whether playing a motorcycle run or your local rock palace, don't miss a chance to see this group charge through some of rock's greatest hits.

2007 Roger-Z