John Ginty has recently released a new album titled, Rockers, featuring his band’s new lead vocalist, Aster Pheonyx. This is his fourth studio effort, which was set into motion following his discovery of Pheonyx’s powerhouse vocals when she opened for his band at the Wonder Bar in Ashbury Park. Following some backstage conversation and jamming, he invited her to perform with his band and the chemistry during the unplanned performance was what led to the birth of this swell new line-up and album.
Ginty is a celebrated performer and recording artist, known not only for his mastery on organ and keys, but also his extensive catalog of performances as a session musician. His career kicked off in the mid-1990’s following his contribution on Neal Casal’s “Fade Away Diamond Time,” which opened a number of doors for him. He joined Jewel’s touring band soon after, and then, went on to perform on records by Citizen Cope, Matthew Sweet and Shannon McNally. Ginty joined Robert Randolf in 2000, as a founding member of Robert Randolf & the Family Band. He has performed with nationally acclaimed artists such as, Warren Haynes, Albert Castiglia, Cris Jacobs, Alecia Chakour, Todd Wolfe and more.
His band also features Justine Gardner on bass, Maurice “Moe” Watson on drums and BKG vocals, and Mike Buckman on guitar. Special guests on the album include Jimmy Bennett (guitar), Paul Gerdts (BKG vocals), Josh Gannet (guitar, percussion, backwoods), Paul Kuzik (bass) and Reggie Noble as DJ.
Aster Pheonyx certainly brings her own flair to the table, bringing spice to Ginty’s expertise with her compelling vocals. Pheonyx, a three-time winner of the Top Female Vocalist from the Elephant Talk Indie Music Awards, is influenced by artists like Beth Hart, Susan Tedeschi and Amy Helm, which is undeniable in the way her sound ripped through the 12-track album that she co-wrote with Ginty.
The first track, “The Shark,” doesn’t feature vocals, and instead eases you in with a funky melody that has Ginty rip-roaring the organ. “Lucky 13,” a hard rocking blues number that features the full band and Aster’s raging vocals that fit the music like a glove, was released as a single prior to the album release, with an accompanying music video. It has an urgent tone that shows right off the bat the power of Pheonyx’s vocals, underlined by the band’s rock fusion. “Believe in Smoke” is a great track, because it showcases the successful combination of Ginty’s sound buttered by Aster’s vocals, before diving into a great jam at the end of the song. “WKYA” breaks up the music a bit with an amusing skit featuring Reggie Noble as a radio DJ interviewing Ginty.
Another favorite was “Mountains Have My Name,” which is where one can really hear the Susan Tedeschi influence on Aster’s voice, while the keys in this track add a special element. This beautiful soulful number features Ginty on piano and is about a woman who is called away from her man by the mountains. The instrumental title track, “Rockers,” is the last track, and it is a great way to close the album, because it leaves the audience with a full lick of their musical capacity.
John Ginty is currently on tour in the south. He returns to the Northeast for an album release party on Feb. 17 at Revolution in Morristown, New Jersey. He also plays the Fountain House in Newton, New Jersey on Feb. 24. Rockers will be released on Friday, Feb. 17. For tickets and more information visit here.
Key tracks: Lucky 13, Believe in Smoke, Mountains Have My Name, Target on the Ground, Captain Hook