Live Review: Peter Prince & the Trama Unit at Thunder Road in Somerville

Material: Original tunes rooted in blues, 
rock and soul form the meat of this Muscle Shoals-influenced jam band. Whether making noise about nursing a grudge or unrequited love, every guitar lick and drum fill causes uncontrollable booty shake. As a brand, they’d easily fit within the pages of Relix Magazine, which makes sense when noting Prince was selected to co-host the first annual Jammys.

Musicianship: Prince has played with artists ranging from members of the Derek Trucks Band and Grace Potter to John Brown’s Body, Lettuce, moe. and Deep Banana Blackout. Such a pedigree speaks for itself, but the proof is in the playing, which is so potent it could make the dead shake a tail feather. And as amazing as Prince may
be, his alternate guitarist, Johnny Trama of Ghosts of Jupiter, easily matches him. As a quintet, they bring down the house with unity and grace but get even better when reggae/dub artist Van Gordon Martin and his cohorts lend their talents.

Performance: Prince and posse assume the stage without fanfare or pretentious trimmings, instead launch into a blaze of auditory brilliance. A long JFK speech excerpt or an elaborate keyboard intro is the extent of their flash. Their understated outfits are humble
 yet lacking zazz, a double-edged sword—a makeover might be in order. A branded logo might draw the eye. When Prince’s primary guitar finked out, mid-song, he traded axes with grace and aplomb while the rest deftly maintained cruising altitude. The hour-and-15-minute set climaxed with a cover of Larry Williams’ “Bony Moronie.”

Summary: What’s better than a jam session built to perfection, stuffed with stanky grooves, crimson vocals and humdinger guitar licks? Prince and his crew offer precisely this and, beyond question, remain more than capable
of transforming a crowd into a frenzied mass. The only impediment to their reaching higher ground is a thin veneer of stage polish, elevating something beautiful that merely exists into a commodity the greater public won’t be able to resist.

The Players: Peter Prince, vocals, guitar; Tommy Benedetti, drums; Sam Gilman, key- boards; Thomas Lada, bass; Johnny Trama, guitar.

Photo Courtesy of Apple Kaufmann

Venue: Thunder Road
City: Somerville, MA
Contact: [email protected]
Web: peterprincemusic.com

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