Reviews of Pushin'

THE POST-STANDARD – Dec. 18, 2012

Mark Doyle takes The Maniacs in a different Blues direction

The British blues from the 1960s hold a spell over Mark Doyle. So the veteran Syracuse guitarist and keyboard player put together Mark Doyle and The Maniacs to play live and release two albums in homage to the blues: “Shake ‘Em on Down” in 2009 and “Comin’ Home” in 2010. Both won the Syracuse Area Music Award trophy for best blues release. Doyle’s guitar work paid great respect to some of his favorites, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Beck and Savoy Brown leader Kim Simmonds.

For Mark Doyle and the Maniacs’ soon-to-be-released CD No. 3, “Pushin’,” Doyle has pushed the envelope.

“The British blues thing, I had pretty much said that,” Doyle says. “It was a great period that I was reverent about. I had sort of paid my respects, and it was time to move on.”

He spent 2 ½ years writing songs for the album, which he produced with Jocko Randall mixing and engineering at Randall's More Sound Studio in Syracuse.

After writing songs, Doyle says, he sent them to trusted blues historian Greg Spencer, owner of Blue Wave Records in Baldwinsville. "For feedback and paring out songs that weren't solid, honing it down to songs on the record. I was opening myself up to playing more keyboards (in addition to guitar). It doesn't really make sense to shy away from everything that I can do."

Doyle’s band includes Frank DeFonda on drums; Joel Kane on bass, guitar and vocals; and Phil Broikos on bass, guitar, harmonica, keys, trombone and vocals.

The collection features a half-dozen of those Doyle originals, a revisit to “Nightcrawler” from Doyle’s first band, Jukin’ Bone (written with Joe Whiting, George Egosarian and John DeMaso), a rocking version of Freddie King’s “Palace of the King,” and one more tribute to that British Blues Invasion, John Mayall’s “Witchdoctor.”

"I think unless you contribute as an original band, people look at you as a tribute band," Doyle says. "What with the logo, the British flag, it was easier to misinterpret than I thought it would be."

The release show is 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at the Red House Arts Center, 201. S. West St., Syracuse.

They’ll be joined by a handful of guests who also played on the album: Pete McMahon on harmonica, and the gospel trio of Marcia Hagan, Kathy Goode and Jennifer Davis. Daryl Pugh played upright bass on the album, but won’t be at the show. The gospel trio previously worked with Doyle at the now-defunct Winter Solstice show.

Tickets for the concert, which is part of the Red House Regulars Series, are $15 for the general public and $10 for Red House members. A DVD that captures the making of the album also will be available at the show.

- Mark Bialczak

  SYRACUSE NEW TIMES – Dec. 19, 2012

Santa's Groove Bag

Also due out just in time for Christmas stockings everywhere, is Mark Doyle and the Maniacs’ Pushin’ (Free Will Records). The revamped Maniac lineup now features the curly headed and massively impressive Joel Kane, who wails on vocals, guitar and bass at various points throughout the album. Doyle hasn’t lost his touch on guitar, keyboard, bass, vocals, songwriting or production, and still leads his partners with the deft guitar work that sets him on a level apart from his peers. Frank DeFonda on drums and Phil Broikos on bass and vocals round out the group, and the unstoppable Jocko of MoreSound Studios worked the recording and mixing magic.

Special guests add another layer to this gritty blues rocker. Pete McMahon grinds it out on harp, Darryl Pugh adds that irreplaceable, jazzy upright bass boom on “Night Crawler” and Marcia Hagan, Kathy Goode and Jennifer Davis provide soulful backing vocals with a perfectly powerful feminine touch.

“Rooster in the Hen House” blows the disc’s doors open with a blustery start thanks largely to McMahon’s harp. “Trials and Tribulations” gets a solid groove thumping with a chorus of percussion that hands the baton of sound off to keys and guitar. “Gypsy Rider” puts the ladies’ vocal harmonies to good use and Doyle’s keys work to the test (he passes with flying colors). And “I’m Your Witchdoctor” is a perfect cover choice for this smokin’ blues rock powerhouse.

The Maniacs’ Pushin’ CD release party will blow the roof off the Redhouse Arts Center, 201 S. West St., on Saturday, Dec. 22, 8 p.m. McMahon, Hagan, Davis and Goode will also join the band for the show. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 425-0405.

- Jessica Novak



Mark Doyle and The Maniacs - Pushin'

In his third release with The Maniacs, Mark Doyle provides both a reflective perspective on a long career and a look ahead. The former Jukin' Bone guitarist pays tribute to his roots with a reimagining of their 1970 hit "Nightcrawler" and covers of blues legends John Mayall and Freddie King.

But more importantly, Doyle penned six new tracks for Pushin', which retain his textured guitar, but show traces of an evolving musician. Tracks like "Trials and Tribulation" infuse elements of soul into Doyle's traditional bluesy rock.

But it's songs like "Rooster in the Hen House" where Doyle's smoky barroom blues are at their best. The harmonica-laden track seems destined for sticky-fingered swing dancing at Dinosaur

As expected from an artist as seasoned as Doyle, the disc is crisp and polished. One would demand no less from a guy who's been at this for more than 40 years. But if there's one thing clear from Pushin', it's that Mark Doyle is never stagnant.

- Chris Baker


VINTAGE GUITAR – April, 2013

Hit List: Mark Doyle and The Maniacs - Pushin'

Doyle is a whiz of a guitarist and a champion of late-’60s blues rock. Spirited originals run alongside cherry-picked covers like John Mayall’s “I’m Your Witch Doctor” for a pugnacious little album that hits all the right receptors.

- Rick Allen

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