Livestream Jersey City, NJ
Players: Dave Blair, guitar, lead and backup vocals; Karina Gonzalez, lead and backup vocals
Material: Blair is literally a very hip and astute musical librarian. And he brings that vast understanding of styles, tones and moods to the plethora of music on display. All original material is taken from his two independently produced albums Not Afraid to Bleed and a self-titled release. Everyone from Johnny Cash, The Cars, Jimi Hendrix and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sade and Chic receive an authentic and well-defined treatment.
Musicianship: Blair has an uncanny ability to mimic almost any guitar or vocal style. From funky syncopation to jazzy blues and metallic-tinged riffs, the man knows his way around an axe. There is a freedom in his approach and attention to detail that comes from many years doing nightclub and studio work. And the artist’s guitar acumen is evenly matched by an encompassing and self-assured voice. Primary counterpart Gonzalez is an artist in her own right. She deftly shifts from lead to backup and blends really well with Blair. Together they exude a relaxed demeanor and inject an energetic rhythm and blues feel to a lot of the songs.
Performance: The performance space was especially vibrant because it was Blair’s birthday. Amid some cool flashing lights and lasers the duo created a fun and festive atmosphere. They were even joined by Blair’s brother Andrew on a couple songs. The two hour-plus set was a continuous format of prepared songs, with backing tracks, and interaction in the chat room. A number of friends and fans were chiming in with requests. In between songs, Blair would even throw in a joke or two. But the emphasis was on the music and that came through loud and clear. Original songs like “Red Flags” and “How I Feel For You,” in particular, were significant as they showed the duo’s range, from Isley Brothers-styled funk to smooth and heart-wrenching balladry.
Summary: Blair and Gonzalez are seasoned vets and not afraid to put it out there in minimal form. With lesser players, backing track accompaniment might not rise above the level of karaoke. But Blair’s programming and sequencing skills are first rate. And the duo’s improvisational and harmonic abilities elevate the material to a higher level. As the pandemic restrictions lift and things return to some sort of normalcy, rest assured Blair and company will be there to answer the call.