Blues musician Ed Randazzo releases third full-length album ‘If You Don’t Bring Me Joy (Be On Your Way)’
Blues is one of the most charismatic of musical genres, allowing for maximum emotional impact with minimal inflection. One note is worth a thousand words when playing the blues, yet when it comes to defining his view of this music that rolls so elegantly tortured off his tongue, West Pittston musician Ed Randazzo is speechless.
“Blues means so many things to so many around the world,” said Randazzo, who has just released his third full-length album of music titled “If You Don’t Bring Me Joy (Be On Your Way).” “Right now, words escape me. I’d prefer to let my music speak for itself.”
Randazzo’s new record certainly speaks highly of the fruitful collaboration he’s had since day one (his debut, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” was released in 2009) with songwriting maestro and producer Bret Alexander; who was incredibly nurturing of Randazzo’s vision. Like the previous records, “If You Don’t Bring Me Joy (Be On Your Way)” was recorded at Alexander’s Saturation Acres studio.
“I definitely cannot take full responsibility for making the decision to make new music,” Randazzo said. “I went with my gut like I always have. I just knew it was time. Bret was very much in the know that I’d been working on new tunes since ‘Show and Tell’ (Randazzo’s 2013 full-length) was released, so the forces that be were already whispering and pushing me toward the next goal – a shiny, new record.”
Notable among the new music are tunes like the dimly lit, shimmering shuffle of “Wade In The Water,” the manic percussiveness of “Let Me Go,” and the darkened, rootsy haunt of “Mama.” Each song, along with Alexander’s trademark nuanced Appalachian accompaniment, features the booming, Delta-holler baritone that is Randazzo’s voice – his vocals are indeed his calling card. There are cuts on the record that are meaningful to him in getting the project rolling.
“’I Need a Woman” (the current single) and ‘Stars’ are the oldest songs from this new bunch,” he said. “These tunes helped put the wheels in motion. All I can tell you is that I, myself, am wrapped up in these songs. They move me. Bret and I demoed the songs for our music-making pal Tommy Smallcomb, who was brought in as a full creative partner and sole percussionist on every song. There’s movement in these songs, a heartbeat. It was time to make a record with amps, drums and crunch.”
Randazzo’s music easily translates to the live stage. His audience spoke volumes when he was voted “Best Blues Artist” at the recent 2015 Steamtown Music Awards, and he’s in demand at esteemed local live institutions like the annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival held each summer in Nescopeck. Randazzo’s Miner Blues trio, which features himself along with Alexander and Tony Halchak, received two standing ovations this past July at the gathering.
“The live show adds that additional dimension to the music,” he said. “To be able to reach out to your audience on a physical level is thrilling. We’re all looking for solace and understanding in this life, and music is an amazing vehicle that gets the word out. I’m just another messenger in all of this. What an afternoon it was at Briggs this past year. The Briggs Farm audience is always so generous. I’ll never, ever forget it.”
Randazzo is optimistic about people hearing the new music that contains a piece of his soul in each note, and the health of his unique brand of blues in NEPA and beyond.
“We’re proud of it,” he said of the record he and Alexander created. “I hope that people listen, and feel it. May it be a source of joy and healing for those who need it. As long as the world goes ‘round, blues will continue to be passed down from one to another. As long as there are music makers and fans alike, passionate about playing and listening and being moved, all music will have its place here.”
Mark is a Northeast Pennsylvania based music journalist who’s enjoyed interviewing legends like members of Iron Maiden, The E-Street Band and Hall & Oates, right down to the garage band next door — intrigued by a great musical story on any level.