It was Funk Night at the Rustic Barn Pub. Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan, featuring Albany’s Justin Henricks, brought out the funk, as they welcomed spring in their return to the venue.
The Northampton, Massachusetts-based band features: vocalist Beau Sasser double-timing on Hammond Organ, guitarist Dan Thomas, drummer Jimmy “The Italian Stallion” Robitaille, vocalist Ali McGuirk and Justin Henricks on guitar and vocals. Together, this border-crossed band got fans to dance and enjoy an evening of funk, blues and soul, on a snow-covered spring night.
“We’re keeping Aretha Franklin in our hearts,” called out McGuirk after covering her own unique spin on Bad Company’s “Rock Steady.” McGuirk and company throughout their two sets, paid homage to the late soul singer in their beautiful renditions of “Baby I Love You,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Save Me!!” Franklin’s music, especially in the genres of funk, blues, and soul, had made an impact on Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan. Through Sasser’s tasty piano solos and McGuirk’s sassy vocals, they were able to breathe new life into these iconic songs.
Being in their lineup for six months, the group decided to stick with playing cover songs for the show. Hearing the musical tightness of each cover being performed, you wouldn’t realize that they’ve been an ensemble for such a short period of time. Their sets were tight and entertaining and each song performed was covered with its own musical twist, that was unique and captivating to their audience.
From their up-tempo disco version of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered,” to playing a Frank Zappa tune that was inspired by both “Sticky Feet” and Sasser’s “Feeling Alright” (Joe Cocker) piano rhythm and a shortened, jazzy Allman Brothers Band “Whipping Post,” it was interesting to watch and hear these iconic tunes being covered well. Their cover of James’ Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” allowed you to observe the band’s chemistry, topped with outstanding soloing among Sasser, Thomas, Henricks and Robitaille, who played the drums with assistance of a tambourine to make additional noise in the jam-based song.
McGuirk returned to the stage for their final set to sing, “Can’t Hide Love,” “Taxman” (The Beatles), “Love the One You’re With” (Crosby, Sills, and Nash), “Save Me” (Aretha Franklin) which included Thomas using his lighter as a slide to perform his solo since leaving his slide upstairs, among other 60s-70s inspired songs that were enticing! McGuirk, apart from her work in Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan, will be performing in Woodstock on April 11, although little details are known about the time and venue of where her solo gig will take place. She announced her upcoming show towards the later part of the gig after performing a great rendition of “Taxman.”
Their musicality and the talent that each member expressed through guitar riffs, piano soloing and vocals left you impressed. The audience and venue were moved by their music. They wanted to hear two encore songs that the band had never performed live. One of which was “Uncle Remus” (Frank Zappa) sung by Sesser and another featuring McGuirk on lead vocals, to close out the evening.
Spring fever sprung at the Rustic Barn Pub as Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan came into town shaking those winter blues away, and to welcome spring with some good funk, blues and soul.
This article was originally published by The Spot 518, is property of Spotlight Newspapers in Albany, N.Y., and appears as a special to NYSMusic. TheSpot518 and NYSMusic work in partnership to provide readers with in-depth coverage on the local music scene in the Capital District and New York state, respectively. For more, visit TheSpot518.com