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Good mojo

MUSIC FEATURE: Cold Sweat 

Good mojo

There's plenty of presentation and protocol in this live-music racket that threatens to upend the whole affair. There are plenty of bands that don't put the music first, concentrating instead on the biz, buzz, and baubles.

Then there's a quartet like Rochester's Cold Sweat, a straight-up, straight-ahead blues band. Sure, there are detours into Latin rhythms and rockabilly jump, but this is a heavy, rockin' blues quartet, pure and simple. Obviously influenced by heavy blues cats like George Thorogood and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cold Sweat — Steve Casilio, guitar and vocals; Ray Sciaratta, bass and vocals; Mike Giugno, drums; and the newest kid to the line-up, Roger Reddy, keyboards — exhibits little wasted flash in its execution. There are no histrionics, the music does the talking. And Cold Sweat's bluesy chatter is rough-hewn and glass-pack raw, due in part to Casilio's killer guitar tone and Sciaratta's lyrics — lyrics that have, upon occasion, reared their head and bitten him in the ass.

The boys in the band stopped by to chew the fat, pimp their new CD "Introductions," and talk about making lyrical mojo work for them. Here's an edited transcript of what was said.

CITY: Cold Sweat didn't start out as an original/traditional blues band?

Steve Casilio: We started roughly three years ago as kind of a ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd-type band. It was more of a heavy blues type of band. We have an edge. And that has evolved over a year with changes in the line-up. We've been told now we're a hot blues band. And we're one of the few blues bands in Rochester that writes original songs. We've lost a few members because of that.

So what marked the beginning for the band as we know it now?

Casilio: When Ray and I connected it opened us up not to just more blues and heavy blues, but it opened us up to writing. The two of us started collaborating.

Being an original blues act, the stories, the ups and downs — they're all yours, right?

Casilio: My playing is my history, my life, all the music I've listened to.

Ray Sciaratta: The CD has evolved into... well, it's also known as the divorce album. The theme behind a lot of the songs is breakup and it became quite personal by the time the CD was done. My wife kept asking, "Why are you writing songs like this?" and before you know it, it was, "Goodbye."

Was capturing this hot blues sound for "Introductions" difficult in the studio?

Sciaratta: You know, we had the music so down everything was done in one or two takes. Honestly, I thought it was easy.

Roger Reddy: The CD itself is real organic. It's basically a live recording in the studio. We just went in and played through it. It just flowed.

It sounds honest, you're not window dressing or being something you're not.

Casilio: Yeah. We're just a couple of old Italians playing the blues.

Since Ray displayed some lyrical mojo that had not-so-great results, what are the future songwriting plans?

Casilio: We'll do an album about girls.

Sciaratta: Or winning the lottery. I'm thinking happy on this next one. You know, happy blues.

What has been your worst show?

Casilio: It was during football season and we only had two people in the audience.

Sciaratta: Yeah, but they danced all night long.

So you had the whole crowd up and dancing?

Sciaratta: I guess you could look at it that way. They loved us.

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