Veteran guitarist and songwriter Tom Guerra was a guest on the July 30 edition of Greasy Tracks.
Following the success of his debut solo album in 2014, the former Mambo Sons member is back with a just-out CD called Trampling Out the Vintage. In addition to discussing and playing tracks from the new release, Guerra and host Chris Cowles featured selections by their favorite, “under-the-radar” guitarists.
Taking its title from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the album features eight new original songs and two very interesting covers: Bob Dylan’s “Pay in Blood” from his 2012 release, Tempest and a rocked-up version of the Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil-penned track “Make Your Own Kind of Music” which Mama Cass Elliott landed as a Top 40 single in 1969.
Joining Guerra on the album is former Queen/Mott The Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher; keyboardist Matt Zeiner (Dickey Betts Band); ace session drummer Mike Kosacek; and legendary bassist Kenny Aaronson. Aaronson played on Mambo Sons’ 1999 debut with guitarist Rick Derringer also appearing. Aaronson approached Guerra about participating in the new effort after he heard Guerra’s new single, the Byrdsesque “Tell the World.”
Since the late 1970s, Guerra has been a popular guitarist on the New England club circuit, playing with a host of leading blues, rock and R&B acts.
He first gained notoriety after being featured in the March 1991 issue of Guitar Player. Over the years, he has recorded or played with Derringer, The Dirty Bones Blues Band, E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, Mark Nomad, The Easton Brothers with Muddy Waters bassist Charles Calmese,
Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson of The Allman Brothers Band, Second Son, Guitar Shorty, Adolph Jacobs of The Coasters, Aaronson and The Delrays, for which he received acclaim from Buddy Guy.
He formed Mambo Sons in 1999 and the group released four albums of original music over the next 15 years.
In 2014, Guerra released his first solo album, All of the Above, a collection of 11 original rock tracks. The CD was critically acclaimed and favorably reviewed in numerous music and guitar magazines as well as mainstream media such as The Huffington Post. The music website The Cutting Edge summed up the effort stating: “A soulful journey back to the basics of rock and roll.”
Tom also spent a five-year period working for Johnny Winter, penning liner notes as the guitarist released a handful of live recordings via The Bootleg Series and has done extensive studio work since the late 1980’s.
Guerra breaks down Trampling Out the Vintage, song by song:
“All Purpose Song”: In the old days, we’d have to tune our radios to pull in a song, and then “static evolved into grace.” This is a sort of riff rocker about how music can mean so many different things to people.
“Dr. Nick and Elvis”: I had a dream that Elvis and his good friend Dr. Nick (Nichopoulos) ran a church to help cure the type of ills detailed in the verses. While writing it, I heard Lemmy had passed, so I included a line in about “The Ace of Spades.”
“Tell the World”: The conflict between being feeling guilty to be happy when the world is going to hell in a hand basket, set in a 2:43 pop song.
“BYOB”: I’ve read that the New York City rock scene had some great parties in the ‘70s — this is how I imagined them to be.
“Make Your Own Kind of Music”: As a kid, I fell in love with Mama Cass’ version after seeing her sing this on the Sammy Davis, Jr. show. It’s re-imagined here as a rock and roll tune.
“Love Will Forget You”: The flip side of love, in a funk-styled tune. Kenny’s (Aaronson) bass sort of propels this song along.
“Pay In Blood”: My favorite guitarists have all covered Bob Dylan, so here’s my contribution to that list, re-arranged with a more “Stonesy” vibe in open G tuning.
“Supermoon”: I was thinking of David Bowie and his space-themed songs when I wrote this. It features a ‘63 Stratocaster, formerly owned by Howlin’ Wolf.
“Grow On Your Own”: For the girl who could never be alone.
“Hard to Love”: For the guy who ends up alone.