Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By John Berbrich
FCE Contributing Writer 

You Keep the Money by Tas Cru


Last updated 10/2/2015 at 5:24am | View PDF

Tas Cru

Having followed the career of veteran bluesman Tas Cru from his early days with the Conrad Story Blues Band to his career as a solo artist, and having seen him perform live in many small clubs in northern New York, and having listened to all of his recordings, I'm pleased to say that with this latest CD, You Keep the Money, Cru has achieved world-class status as a guitarist, as a singer, and as a songwriter.

Not only has he grown and evolved as a musician, but Tas Cru has the good sense to surround himself with an excellent backup band. The current incarnation is called The Moneymakers, and it consists of the following: Mary Ann Casale and Alice (Honeybea) Ericksen on backing vocals, Dick Ericksen on red-hot harmonica, Cru's longtime pal Chip Lamson on piano, Guy Nirelli on organ, Bob Purdy on bass, and Dave Olson and Bob Holz alternating on drums, with Ron Keck helping out on percussion. This is a tight ensemble.

In You Keep the Money you get a dozen songs and nearly one hour of solid blues. The thing with Tas Cru, both recorded and live, is the broad dynamic range of every aspect of the performance. In his songwriting, Cru pens jocular blues rockers like "Heart Trouble" and "One Bad Habit," a beautiful guitar instrumental "La Belle Poutine," and the agonizing lament, "Thinking How to Tell Me Goodbye," as well as a real love song, "Holding on to You," and the energy-brimming title track, "You Keep the Money." He can make his guitar gasp and whimper, then the next moment scream and howl. His rich growly voice can get low, smooth or gritty, then roar like an anguished blues master from the past. By the way, the CD production-recorded at SubCat Music Studios in Syracuse, New York, engineered by Ron Keck and mastered by Patrick MacDougall-is superb.

And he can definitely reproduce all of this live. I saw Tas Cru perform recently at the renovated Russell Theater in Russell, New York, with Mary Ann Casale. In the first set, they alternated singing his songs and hers. Both played acoustic guitar, and Mary Ann also played dulcimer. We were lucky enough to have second row seats, the perfect vantage point from which to observe a real professional, one who enjoys pleasing his audience. In the second set, they played songs by Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, J.J. Cale, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and more, plus a haunting version of George and Ira Gershwin's "Summertime." I've never seen a man attack an acoustic guitar like Tas Cru. His notes are precise and clean, moonlight-smooth and soulful, and they can kick you out of your chair if necessary.

I'm writing this on September 23rd, 2015. Tonight Tas Cru and his band (The Tortured Souls) play a gig in Williamsburg, Virginia, after which they continue their tour down through North Carolina, Alabama, and into Florida. The plan is to be up in Ontario, Canada, by Halloween. At some future point Tas Cru and his band will be back in New York, and I strongly suggest that you make plans accordingly.

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