Joey Salvia is a Brooklyn born songwriter-musician & indie artist who also works in radio and podcasting. He's commercially 

released over 10 albums, and has thousands of hours behind a mic and soundboard.(SAG-AFTRA, Recording Academy)

Joey performs solo-acoustic and on bass/vocals with various bands in the DFW area. He also produces a wide variety of radio content and commercials. His audio-production & voice-over work is heard nationwide on Cumulus Media/Westwood One stations each day. See the "links" page for more.

Performing at a Texas prison 
Broken Down - Joey with Bleaker Street Cowboys
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A Blast from the Past review

CONCERT REVIEW: The Montgomery Cliffs, Fletcher's, Baltimore, MD (1997)

- Bill Holmes

In an age where so many things are jammed down your throat via mass-marketing and multi-million dollar advertising tie-ins, it's refreshing to have something sneak up and take you out at the knees just because it's great. Thank you, Montgomery Cliffs, for the sucker punch!

The Cliffs are a three-piece from New York who play tight, catchy three minute songs with incredible energy and wit. Their track on the Three Minute Revolution compilation was a standout, and their debut record Andiamo! (115 Records) is more of the same; imagine a band with the pop sensibilities of The Smithereens but the power of The Attractions or The Jam. Recorded on the legendary shoestring budget in less than ideal conditions, Andiamo! is a textbook example of why songs, not production tricks, are the essence of greatness. I drove to Baltimore faster than the bullet train with high expectations, usually not a great combination.

Fletcher's is your typical big city rock club; small and hot yet somehow boasting a legion of "name" acts on a daily basis. Playing the role of the meat in a three-band sandwich is not fun (the first band's gear is set at soundcheck, and the closer gets the crowd at its most primed) but The Cliffs were there to get in and kick ass regardless. Lead singer/bassist Joey Salvia has a small ponytail wafting off the back of his otherwise shaved head; guitarist Wayne Thomas Kurz and drummer Dennis Carollo look docile by comparison. Dressed in suits and skinny ties, the crowd wonders whether they're about to see a major league act or a New Wave band that forgot to quit. Four bars into the set, it's obvious that the former is true.

Few bands at ANY level seem to remember the art of putting on a show; years of self-indulgent noodling and lead singers contemplating their sneakers have seemingly washed away the standards of professionalism on stage. The Cliffs came out, plugged in and proceeded to rip through four great songs with but a half-beat between them. Taking a moment to play with the crowd's head, Salvia encouraged them to come closer ("we're from NY, we ain't gonna hurt you or anything") and then blasted back with another four-song barrage. Somehow Kurz's guitar sounds like rhythm and lead at the same time; drummer Carollo ponds away while counting off the beats to himself. Salvia is a typhoon on a leash, head and bass neck bobbing sharply, face contorting to punch home witty lyrics, mesmerizing the crowd. We're talking serious front man qualities here; whatever "it" is, Salvia has enough "it" to dole out leftovers. The crowd begins as newcomers and leave as converts, even laughing when Salvia has the stones to tease them with "BAL-TI-MORRRRE...you guys are the BEST crowd in the USA!! Nah...just pulling yer leg..."

And the songs! Short, sharp rockers like "Whaddya No?" and "If I Were You" sound even better live (the band slips into a faux fifties' style on one verse in the latter - nice touch!), tight vocal harmonies riding over even tighter music. They played most of their debut record during the forty minute set, standouts besides those mentioned included the shuffle-rock "Broken Heart" and "She Found God", boasting the immortal couplet "ready to blow my wad/she turns around and says that she found god...". They also did two covers, buzzsaw versions of "Crazy" and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". When your weakest moment is a Patsy Cline standard, you've got some great original songs. It's tough to get an encore on a multiple bill, lights and house music usually blast on before the drummer stands up. The Cliffs got two that night.

If I were in a band and had to follow these guys onstage, I'd demand to have the room hosed out and a fresh audience brought in. Nuff said.

 

 

APRIL 3, 2009

 

Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

 

First of all, that name…The Montgomery Cliffs. How cool is that? When I reviewed Andiamo, the Cliffs’ debut album – my #1 Record of 1997, by the way – I proclaimed it “a low-budget, high voltage masterpiece” and I wouldn’t take back a syllable of that today. If anything, my opinion has been validated by the passage of time.  Produced by the great Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) and released on the small RPM label, this three piece NYC band understood that The Who were both power and pop, and having a a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Joey’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) or Elvis Costello (Ol’ Declan would be smart to cover “If I Were You”), and the songs on Andiamo aren’t far off from the early records by either.

But more importantly, the band and album were pure unadulterated impact. We’ve all been knocked sideways by a great band when we weren’t expecting it…meeting someone at a bar, arriving early for a concert and not knowing the opener, and then… POW…floored! When recapping 1997’s best later that year I added “The Cliffs  parlay the guitar-bass-drum formula into something much greater. Great songs, whip-crack musicianship and a sense of humor that rocks your world and still makes you think. And the best part? They’re better live. This disc kept getting back in the player all year long, and how better to measure your favorite?”

They were better live. They were amazing live. When I saw them at Fletcher’s in Baltimore later that year, I was absolutely gobsmacked and wrote this. (And yes, I know Patsy Cline didn’t write “Crazy”…) It wasn’t just Salvia’s charisma, although the guy had buckets of it; Wayne Thomas Kurz was the only guitar player but sounded like two, and Dennis Carollo mastered the art of propulsion without ego. Truly a power trio.