Corrections or additions?
This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the January
28, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Paul Plumeri’s Blues Groove
For guitar players, it’s all about tone. Trenton-raised, guitarist,
singer and songwriter Paul Plumeri is one of the most tone-conscious
players you’ll find on the Garden State club scene. Plumeri’s most
recent release is “In Seattle,” a live recording the guitarist made in
an old wood-paneled theatre there. One of his other recent releases,
“The Bishop of the Blues” is a studio outing that was recorded
Friday night, Plumeri reunites his stunning trio after a long hiatus
at the Triumph Brew Pub on Nassau Street. Plumeri, who has an
economical guitar style that is based in soul jazz grooves, will be
accompanied by Gerry Guida on Hammond B-3 and Ronnie Hand on drums.
“The two of them go back quite a few years on the club circuit, and
they have played in many different configurations,” Plumeri, 49
explains last week from his Hamilton Township home.
“To me, they are the best possible rhythm section around, they’re
phenomenally tight and unwavering. Ronnie is probably the best groove
style drummer I’ve ever played with, he just absolutely gets the best
out of you, and Gerard is quite the same,” Plumeri says.
“It’s better than any band I’ve ever worked with,” he adds.
Like Texas guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, who works with Hammond B-3
keyboardist Bill Willis in his band Tilt-a-Whirl, Plumeri doesn’t have
to play a lot of notes or do a lot of fancy riffing to make a
“I like to keep things pretty straight and simple. I like a nice pure
tone that’s overdriven but certainly not distorted, just the natural
sound of a great guitar and a great amp, and whatever I use by way of
effects are used extremely sparingly,” says Plumeri, now a 14-year
veteran of the state’s Office of Ombudsman for the Institutionalized
Elderly. He calls his position as a nursing home and rehab center
inspector his “good karma day job.”
While Plumeri has an extensive guitar collection, “I use George
Allesandro’s amplifiers 90 percent of the time. He’s really well known
now, he’s in Pennsy, but he worked for me for about five years as a
roadie,” Plumeri recalls of the halcyon days of Trenton and New
Jersey’s club scene in the 1970’s.
“I guess I was sort of a mentor to him of sorts, and I always knew
this kid was bright, but unbeknownst to me, I never knew he was going
to come up with a leading amplifier,” Plumeri says, “he really came up
with a nice piece of equipment.”
“I’ve never gotten into dealing guitars, for me, it’s always been a
labor of love,” he says of his collection, “but these things all have
their own individual personalities.”
At Triumph Brew Pub on Friday, Plumeri will be debuting some newer
songs, but he points out, with Guida based in Jersey City and Hand
living in Newton, they only get together periodically to rehearse. It
doesn’t matter, since they’re all virtuoso musicians and veterans of
the Garden State club and festival circuit. Plumeri will release later
this year a DVD from a 1998 concert with this trio recorded at
Trenton’s Waterfront Park.
“The DVD will be coming out this year, it’s about 45 minutes long and
I’m hoping people will be happy with it,” he says.
At Triumph, longtime fans of Plumeri should know they won’t have to
wear their earplugs.
“Triumph is kind of a boomy room, but the club does well on its own,
and this will be the first time since we’ve stopped playing that
anyone will have a chance to hear us,” he says, “so at Triumph, we
adjust by playing quieter.”
For those who prefer their blues and blues-rock raw and acoustic,
Plumeri is performing Saturday night at McManimon’s, a bar owned by
the extended family of longtime New Jersey State Senator Francis
“Joe Zuccharello and I do this acoustic duo thing once a month there,
and it’s a corner bar. It’s all very laid-back and about as
unpretentious as you can get,” he adds.
— Richard J. Skelly
Paul Plumeri Band, Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau Street,
609-924-7855. Blues with a Hendrix influence, plus acoustic with Joe
Zook. Friday, January 30, 10:30 p.m.
Paul Plumeri Band, McManimon’s, 151 Liberty Street, Trenton,
609-393-9023. Saturday, January 31, 10 p.m.
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