Currently paying his dues in Boston, Anthony Viscounte hails from the Philadelphia area, having already proven himself with some of Philly’s more interesting and musical endeavors. The five songs on this disc, Viscounte’s debut recording as a leader, span several genres, and are all connected by his keen ear for the blues and wry sense of humor. The color of his voice is distinct, and extends from plaintive to full out snarky at times, but always perfectly suited for the tune at hand. He handles his compositions with skill and aplomb, while holding down the acoustic guitar duties with ease.
Among the Philadelphia musical brethren skillfully assisting our nascent troubadour we have the ever present and ever swingin’ drummer Sean J. Kennedy, himself a bandleader and composer of note with numerous outstanding recordings to his credit both as a sideman and leader; for these tunes, finding a better drummer would be impossible. On bass we find the ubiquitous Mark Amentt, a first call man for many acclaimed local acts, always layin’ it down, and puttin’ it in the pocket. Rounding out this great rhythm section is the local vocal phenom John Conahan, adding his one-of-a-kind stylings on piano and organ, seemingly made for his tasty bluesy-soul sound. The horn section features four of Philly’s finest. Erin Stroup’s saxophone resume is unabashedly drool-worthy, and his playing here, solidifies his status as the go-to player for almost any project. Described as “the best kept local secret” among trumpet players, Chuck Gottesman proves once again, through his warm, round sound and total command of his instrument why he is at the top of many local band leaders’ first-call lists. While the other two brass players can and do play everything from ska to symphonies, Dave Champion on trombone and Brian Cox on Sousaphone are just the bee’s knees when it comes to that 2nd Line sound. Engineering and backing vocals are skillfully executed by the accomplished ears and nimble fingers, of Alfred James Goodrich.
This first effort as a singer-songwriter, albeit not of the navel-gazing sort, finds Anthony Viscounte fully in charge of his distinct voice, proving that he is well on his way as a songwriter, arranger and orchestrator.
There's a nice blend of styles and unique grooves represented on this five song EP. The common thread running through the entire project is the folky, soulful, bluesy New Orleans sound which actually surprised me ... knowing that the band is made of Philly musicians. The writing and arrangements remind a lot of Levon Helm; I dig it.
For the drummer or percussionist, there's a lot of creative ideas to glean from Sean's playing; organic grooves with a great feel. You're going to swear Sean grew up around the Mississippi Delta.
Ramblin' Ant & the Locust Street Band makes for some fun summer time listening, driving down the road with all the windows open or the top down, headed for the river for a cookout or just chillin' with friends. I'm personally looking forward to hearing more from this group — assuming that they do some more recording — which they should.