Neill Solomon

Passage One Music

Music Review: Uptown Rhythm Dogs – Allies In Inventiveness, Or Good Folk In A Complex World

March 28, 2019


Uptown Rhythm Dogs with special guests Zacas / Auto & General Theatre On The Square, Sandton, Johannesburg

It doesn’t seem possible, but the Uptown Rhythm Dogs have been making music together on and off for nearly 40 years. There are streaks of grey in the ponytails of percussionist Dan Chiorboli and anything-with-strings player Greg Georgiades – and vocalist, guitarist and pianist Neill Solomon has long lost all of his hair – but the onstage energy and chemistry remains fresh. This two-night theatre residency was something of a reunion in the wake of the release of The Songs That Made Us Free by The Liberation Project, a sprawling collaborative project including 142 international musicians that yielded a triple album and a series of concerts – for all of which Solomon and Chiorboli served as producers as well as contributing writing and playing.

The relatively intermittent nature of their current musical relationship was occasionally evident in some loose tracking of the melody on the bass (or more specifically, a bass ukulele), but with there being a fair bit of improvisation in these players’ approach, it was only a few discordant moments that jarred. The music – world music, tinged with folk and with sporadic moments of more conventional pop) and the arrangements are complex, even in the more mainstream moments, with multiple and often unexpected key changes and Chiorboli and Georgiades’ bewildering array of instruments (any number of drums and shakers; a bouzouki, a banjo and an oud among many others) holding audience interest as they are played, offering fascinating colour and texture to the compositions.

Through all of that, Solomon’s expressive, unusual voice (a more tuneful Leonard Cohen?) remains an obvious point of focus as he tells tales that generally involve at least a touch of darkness. Even a tune he introduces as a “love song” is revealed to be less than romantic, as confirmed by the title – Junk Foods And Disposable Ladies.

Still, the combination of long-honed chops and confident affability makes an evening in the company of this trio a tremendously enjoyable time.

The Uptown Rhythm Dogs were supported by folk duo Zacas – brothers Luigi and Salvatore Zacas, the former singing lead and the latter playing guitar and singing harmonies – who took the opportunity to make a number of new fans in an audience there to see the elder band. Salvatore’s picked melodies are clear, cascading and lyrical, with no concessions made to simplicity as he also varies between time signatures and picking patterns. Luigi’s vocals are strong and earnest and, though the duo’s inter-song banter is charmingly haphazard, the stories their songs tell are poetic and powerful. It is folk music in the potent, old-fashioned sense, needing nothing more than the brothers offer – interesting, well-delivered lyrics, beautifully sung by both of them and backed by an acoustic instrument played with skill and imagination.

See original article here:

Theatrical soundscapes: The Uptown Rhythm Dogs Reunion – The Citizen Article

March 15, 2019

Uptown Rhythm Dogs

The show in Sandton will be less of a reunion and more of a recreation, showcasing the group’s new growth.

With numerous rock bands from the 70s and 80s reforming for reunion shows in which they play old songs for even older fans, one could easily be forgiven for thinking the Uptown Rhythm Dogs reunion at the Theatre on the Square in Sandton is set to be a similar event. According to band member Greg Georgiades, nothing could be further from the truth.

“We have always been a very different group of musicians, and when we went our separate ways it wasn’t because we had run out of ideas and weren’t making any new music,” he explained.

In fact, Georgiades and his fellow bandmates Dan Chiorboli and Neill Solomon have spent the past thirty years deeply engaged in their own solo careers creating albums and recording film scores, and this latest reunion was just a natural part of their progression as musicians.

“We never stopped making music. Every time I was in town Neill would call me up and say, I have had some ideas, come over, let’s record them,” said Georgiades.

The new show at the Theatre on the square in Sandton, rather than being a throwback to a forgotten time, will be a new step forward for the group, who have a new album and a dozen new elements they have added in.

“If anything, Dan’s percussion system on stage has grown even bigger, and I have learnt to play a lot of instruments I didn’t play back then,” said Georgiades, who explained the band’s approach was somewhat theatrical.

“We create these soundscapes. It’s not just a performance, it’s a show that adapts to the audience,” he said.

“It’s rock, and world music, jazz, and a little bit of blues,” interjected Solomon.

“You know when you walk into the theatre and you see all these instruments arrayed out on the stage, you already know you are in for something a little different,” said Chiorboli.

Despite all the new offerings from the “Different Places” album, the reunion show is still the first time the group will be performing live in almost 30 years and will therefore also feature a broad spectrum of music comprising old songs from The Occupant and Magic Man period such as Roxy Lady, The Stranger, Junk Foods and Disposable Ladies, as well as acoustic renditions from The Liberation Project’s recently released album “Songs That Made Us Free”.

“We are very lucky. Our fans have always been a creative and intelligent group of people, so we think they will appreciate the growth and direction the band has taken,” said Georgiades.

“But at the same time, we genuinely believe that if you listen to the old stuff, it’s music that stands the test of time, music that could easily have been released last week. We are very excited.

Uptown Rhythm Dogs will also be joined on stage by new act ZACAS, who have just released their debut album “Corner House”.

The shows take place on March 23 and 24, 2019, at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square and tickets can be booked on Computicket by either calling 0861 915 800 or online at You can also call the theatre at 011 883 8606. For extra information head to the event page on Facebook.

Warren Robertson

See original article here:

Uptown Rhythm Dogs in Johannesburg on 02/02/19

January 18, 2019

Uptown Rhythm Dogs in Pretoria on 01/12/18

November 20, 2018

Neill Solomon & Guest Artists in Johannesburg on 03/11/18

October 23, 2018

Colin Offord & Pops Mohamed featuring Neill Solomon & Dan Chiorboli in Johannesburg on 20/08/18

August 20, 2018

Radium TLP 25 Aug

Barry Thomson & The Reals with Neill Solomon and Dan Chiorboli in Durban on 15/08/18

June 29, 2018

The Liberation Project in Johannesburg on 17/06/18

June 12, 2018

Soweto International Jazz Festival

The Liberation Project in Johannesburg on 25/05/18

May 10, 2018

Neill Solomon & Guest Artists in Cape Town on 23/03/18

March 7, 2018