Amid mainstream acts, talent shines through
Record producer Anthony J. Resta has worked on eight gold and platinum albums by international acts such as Duran Duran and Collective Soul. He is also trying to spice up the Boston scene with his Chelmsford-based Studio Bopnique Musique, embracing a variety of local musicians who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Some might be talented, some might be vanity acts, and some might be Top 40 cover bands looking to do original material to get to the next level. It’s a motley but fascinating stable. Seven of Resta’s acts were on display Monday at the House of Blues. It was a decidedly mixed evening, though there were flashes of talent, suggesting that Resta’s work has not been in vain. Most acts, though, had a mainstream-style sound that may make it hard to penetrate the Boston scene, with its love of alternative pop music.
The standout was John Cate, whose sound is influenced by the Eagles and Bob Dylan. Cate’s “Learn to Love Someone” cooked like a track off Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album. The melodies were substantial, and the band rode a groove throughout. Cate also helped set up the showcase, so it was fitting that he played so well.
Tony Roberts, who has been in the local band Mindflow, performed a solo acoustic set and had moments with his gravelly voice and humorous spin on life. Carla Ryder (formerly of the Mudhens) had great wordplay in her songs of female survival but was better on uptempo rock such as “High Tide in Tucson” than on her more softly nuanced adult pop, which was sometimes strained. Brian Alex (formerly of Entrain) scored with a solo acoustic Latin tune. And Chad LaMarsh, known for doing cover-song gigs at the Rack and other clubs around town, was a nice surprise with lively tracks from his fine new original album, “Anytime/ Anywhere.” Singer Andrea Surova, playing with a band for the first time, was slow to find her groove, though she loosened up on “Halo.” And Central Basement, which has also played the Rack, offered pop that was still trying to find an individual edge. No superstars may come of this night, but it is to Resta’s credit that he helped bring them this far.
- Steve Morse