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Calo Captivating As Soloist And With Ensemble
By: Steve Morse
Peter Calo, who is part of Carly Simon's touring band, is a masterful guitarist. He is adept at styles from pop, jazz, and rock, to classical and flamenco. He was born in Alberto, Canada, but is a globally minded musician who is also coming into his own as singer, witness the vast improvement on his exquisite new album, "Wired to the Moon."
Calo, who lived in Boston for 10 years, but moved to Manhattan in 1994, swung back this way for a mesmerizing Wednesday night at Scullers. His own performance was impressive, and he captivated the crowd further with his liberal exchange with local a cappella group Five O'Clock Shadow, whose two mouth percussionists and four singers (three tenors and one baritone) enhanced Calo's music and gave it an even more human dimension.
Calo's album has top-flight backup from singer Mike Harvey (from Seal's touring band) and drummer Jerry Krenach (from Chris Whitley's band), but Calo charted new waters with Five O'Clock Shadow, whom he met during a performance at the Appalachian Coffeehouse in Natick just a few weeks ago. They share the same manager (Boston-based Diane MacDonald) and a similar musical adventurousness. They had only a couple of rehearsals, but their camaraderie on Wednesday suggested a longtime brotherhood.
Accompanying himself on electric and acoustic guitars, Calo opened with a few solo vocals, from urgent love song "Thinking About You" and the Harry Nilsson-like "Wired to the Moon" (about the actress of New York streets) to Van Morrison's "Crazy Love." Calo was then joined by ace local saxophonist Myanna on a cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring it on Home to Me," which also featured Five O'Clock Shadow's David Stackhouse ingeniously mouthing drum and hi-hat noises, while Danish-born compadre Benni Chawes mouthed funky bass lines.
The first of Calo's two shows climaxed with the pensive "Do You Remember Me?" (written about a homeless man on Boston Common who rubuked Calo's offer to help), followed by "The Way that You Looked" (a tribute to Calo's 2-year-old daughter, Fiona) and the inspiring "Guns are Not Enough," an idealistic anthem that evoked the fast strumming style of Richie Havens. (All of these are on the new album. For more information, check out Calo's Web site at www.petercalo.com.)
Calo will return to the region to play the Bull Run in Shirley with Five O'Clock Shadow on Feb. 13. He'll also play the "Folk for Folk" benefit for the homeless at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge April 30.
Five O'Clock Shadow, which has a new album "So There," will perform at Ryles on Feb. 20.