Grooters & Beal Band – Thanksgiving Christmas Live

by Brad Hardisty

The Grooters & Beal Band’s new release has a back story as interesting as the CD itself. Thanksgiving Christmas Live came together after a band meeting at a local Irish Pub in Holland, Michigan in the middle of the holiday season where the group conceived Rock Vespers: Storytellers Edition and put on three shows just eight days after the initial meeting.

Recorded the 16th, 17th, and 18th of December 2011 in a small venue, the recording features tight interplay with arrangements reminiscent of current Christian Light Rock that mixes Michael McDonald styling with a little Toto-Africa meets Asia type keyboards with Porcaro grooves played by Danny Reyes and flashes of Steve Lukather inspired guitar fretwork by John Grooters.

The vocals are exuberant with variety and call and response provided by Pam Van Putten. “Little Drummer Boy” kicks in like Kenny Loggins, “Footloose” while going into some Neil Peart type fills. Speaking as Joseph the father of Jesus, the “Cherokee People” groove of “Joseph’s Lament” gives a Laura Nyro piano style story line of Joseph’s realization of what was ahead for him and the meaning of Mary’s newborn child.

The thirteen tracks make for a more Christ centered focus reason for the season with great contemporary arrangements and a live feel not usually available in a Christmas album.

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