D.C. & Co.
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D.C. & Co.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
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"Super Heros D.C. & Co."

D.C. & Co.
Many of the acts I review are forced to forego their immediate dreams of rock and roll stardom in order to “make a living in the real world,” uncomfortably balancing the tedium of daytime work with the excitement of their nighttime musical personas. The idea that the guy who pours my coffee in the morning or the girl at the DMV who wiles the day away typing data into a computer may, at five o’clock, rip off their “real-world” business suits and restaurant uniforms for guitars and stage lights is one that has always intrigued me. It has a certain comic book superhero appeal to it.

There’s really not much difference between the way Peter Parker or Clark Kent transform into their heroic alter egos and the way some musical hopefuls transform themselves from mundane employees into screaming, howling, soulful on-stage presences. And not many can pull off this chrysalis as well as Dave Costarella and his soaring band, D.C. & Co.

In case you haven’t heard D.C.’s story, which has reached the level of local lore, Dave is a construction worker by day, and by night, puts down the hard-hat for a hat that fits much better: songwriter, performer and bandleader of one of Lancaster’s most popular and enduring acts. As Costarella puts it, he “only does the other thing [i.e. his day-job] in order to keep the music going.” Costarella is not content with the monotony of everyday life – he assumes the almost spiritual purpose of proselytizing the blues, preaching from the pulpit of real soul music.

D.C. & Co. channels a wide variety of music from a wide variety of musicians, sometimes unabashedly borrowing from the greats, and other times blazing a stunningly new path through tried and true musical styles. Most of the time I analyze bands in terms of influence, but with D.C. & Co. only the word “channel” could possibly describe how the construction worker is able, in a flash, to transform into a gritty bluesman howling a meaty refrain, or a smooth Cajun huckster cajoling audiences with bouncy New Orleans funk. And juggling these personas seems like second nature to Dave and the band.

Channeling groups as diverse, and yet strangely connected, as the Allman Brothers, Van Morrison and Ray Charles is no easy task, nor is attempting to cover their music from time to time. But when a well-placed cover is added to their set, D.C. and his band’s idiosyncratic stamp could be felt pulsing through every note. Most singer-songwriters find it easier to express their deepest feelings by paring their sound down to the barest necessities, but D.C. does the exact opposite. He flourishes precisely while brandishing his Phil Spector-sized wall of sound.

Costarella is admittedly a musical late bloomer, but as one audience member puts it, “what a flower he’s become.”

“I had songs bouncing around in my head,” Costarella acknowledges, “all sorts of songs in all sorts of styles but I couldn’t get them out there.” He spent a great deal of time and effort trying to communicate these ideas to his musician friends so that they could capture what Dave refers to as “the craziness” – his series of mental noises and ideas that eventually become songs. And while they did a brilliant job translating various hums, tones and rhythms into passable songs, it wasn’t until 1992 when friend and guitarist Marshall Jones taught Costarella the basics of keyboard that his musical career began to really take shape. After this, it was inevitable that his self-described “gift for music” would manifest itself. And the songs seemed simply “to write themselves,” Costarella says.

“Sometimes I will literally wake up in the middle of the night,” he observes of his overly active muse, “and just have a whole song completely written and ready to perform.” When asked how he so artfully blends elements of soul, rock, blues, funk and jazz, he regards the question with cautious skepticism. It’s clear that this isn’t something for which he has to “try.” There is “none of the bullshit,” he says. “It just comes.” And as unfamiliar or strange as this bit of Zen wisdom is, it’s true. His music works because it seems so effortless; Costarella and the band make the juggling act of influences mere child’s play.

Another aspect of his success stems from the ability to outrun all the stereotypes of bands formed by “people his age.” Many musicians his age (which seems in itself an insult to D.C. & Co.’s tact) are content to wallow in the entirely safe realm of classic rock statuary. Seldom do we hear original music, let alone original music that doesn’t sound like a dull musical hangover in some bizarre Margaritaville-universe.

With Costarella, there is not a desperate attempt at clinging to fleeting remnants of youth, but a distinct sentiment that his youthful lust for life has been and will be there always – and that is what guided him down the strange road that finally led to the thing he loves most: music.

As he says about the perfect swell of a horn riff, or the thumping synchronicity of his rhythm section, “Music like that – you just want to live there.” And the “there” does not refer to the audience, but rather the internal joy of music. Combining the wisdom of musical maturity with the freshness of a songwriter just out of the gate, Costarella gives his music an inspiring breadth and appeal that are conspicuously missing from many groups, old and young alike.

As Costarella points out on the band’s website (www.dcandco.net), his musical gifts are not only in the songwriting department. He also prides himself on “surrounding himself with great musicians,” who not only play well, but also are “good people, people you want to be with on or off the stage.”

The distinct personalities of his band members often ring out louder than the loudest wailing trumpet or searing guitar line throughout the set. Guitarist “Big Tone” Torres, the self-proclaimed “best (and probably only) Greaser guitar player in Lancaster,” adds an indescribable swagger to the band. At the same time, bassist Bobby Fry adds flawless rhythmic funk. Playing with Costarella is a group of straight shooters, music teachers and other assorted good guys who sound like hip-shooting funksters. Fresher than players half their age, they blend virtuosity with a broad perspective on music in a way that young pups could only dream of.

Even cooler than this is the very make-up of the band. I had originally planned on listing the entire band, member by member, but the list soon became too unruly to even consider actually including it here in the article. But it is this amorphous inclusiveness that makes the band function like it does, as an organic whole that is, as Dave describes, “Much, much more than the sum of the parts.”

Because of its core of tight, professional musicians, the band makes even the most difficult arrangements seem easy and carefree. At the same time, because the band is constantly changing (adding a member here, taking one out there), there is a liveliness and constant self-replenishing aspect that helps avoid becoming musically stale.

Lancaster can sometimes surprise you. Far from being burnt out by the world of day-jobs, Costarella even finds inspiration, true soulful inspiration, in this unlikely provincial, little county. And when he’s on-stage in a local club, you almost question whether you haven’t been whisked away to Memphis or Chicago, all while feeling quietly at home.

- Matthew Johnson- Fly Magazine


"Returning the Soul to Lancaster"

If you’ve seen the movie “The Commitments,” you can really appreciate what D.C. & Co. are all about. The movie – a story about a working-class Irish R‘nB/Soul band from Dublin (the Commitments) who view their musical mission as nothing short of “returning soul to the Irish people” – could easily be about D.C. & Co. Because, in the end, D.C. & Co. are doing the same thing: returning soul to the people of Lancaster, PA…

It ain’t an easy job. Just ask D.C. (Dave Costarella) how tough it is to hold together (let alone pay) an 8-piece band. But the fact is D.C. would have it no other way. “My fans demand the horns,” he says. “I got no choice.”

For sure, the 3-piece horn section (Eric Ensminger on trumpet, sax Doug Hill, and Big “D” on trombone) places D.C. & Co. in a special category all it’s own. It lifts the listener higher and adds a brassy boastfulness to DC’s sound, allowing the band to strut the streets of Blues, jazz and alleys between.

It’s no secret, the band’s genre-bending forays into R’nB, Blues, Jazz, Rock, Funk, Swing, and Soul keep boredom at bay and legs on the dance floor. D.C. & Co. plays music that moves you, and music that makes you want to move…

So what’s the band’s secret? Well, for one, D.C.’s own electrifying brand of original music is top-notch. With the recent release of Ain’t That Somethin’ (and the band’s previous, Somethin’s Happenin’), D.C. keeps the party happenin’ all night. Inject a few classics like Santana “Black Magic Woman” or War’s “Low Rider” into the live mix, and you have the recipe for one helluva hot night of music.

Fronting the band on keyboards and lead vocals, D.C. cooks up songs that are witty, gritty, and honest, with enough clever hooks to reel in listeners and turn them into devoted fans. Powered by a souped-up rhythm section of dual percussionists (Dave Santana, drums and Gary Miller, congas and bongos) and a driving, jazzed-up bass (Bobby Fry), they invite you along for a thrilling ride, through an ever-changing musical landscape peppered with blues, jazz, soul, salsa, and more. Still others claim the band’s secret weapon is Big Tone Torres who keeps the music from becoming too polished, adding a raw, rock ‘n roll guitar sound to keep the music fresh.

“The blues people say it’s more rock, the rock people say it’s jazz, and the jazz people say it’s Blues,” laughs DC. He likes to call it “Live Music for Live People.”

One thing’s for sure: D.C. and Co. has cultivated an impressive audience with their top-shelf soulful sound. Just check out any club or event where D.C. & Co. are performing and you’ll find the joint jumping. Who would’ve thought the fertile fields of Lancaster could yield such a bountiful crop of Soul instead of Soybeans?

“We write and play music that excites us,” explains D.C., “we try to entertain the way we like to be entertained.”
- Dave Strange - Music Head Mag.


"D.C. & Co."

    If you’ve seen the movie “The Commitments,” you can really appreciate what D.C. & Co. are all about. The movie – a story about a working-class Irish R‘nB/Soul band from Dublin (the Commitments) who view their musical mission as nothing short of “returning soul to the Irish people” – could easily be about D.C. & Co. Because, in the end, D.C. & Co. are doing the same thing: returning soul to the people of Lancaster, PA…
It ain’t an easy job. Just ask D.C. (Dave Costarella) how tough it is to hold together (let alone pay) an 8-piece band. But the fact is D.C. would have it no other way. “My fans demand the horns,” he says. “I got no choice.”    
For sure, the 3-piece horn section (Eric Ensminger on trumpet, sax Doug Hill, and Big “D” on trombone) places D.C. & Co. in a special category all it’s own. It lifts the listener higher and adds a brassy boastfulness to DC’s sound, allowing the band to strut the streets of Blues, jazz and alleys between.
It’s no secret, the band’s genre-bending forays into R’nB, Blues, Jazz, Rock, Funk, Swing, and Soul keep boredom at bay and legs on the dance floor. D.C. & Co. plays music that moves you, and music that makes you want to move…
So what’s the band’s secret? Well, for one, D.C.’s own electrifying brand of original music is top-notch. With the recent release of Ain’t That Somethin’ (and the band’s previous, Somethin’s Happenin’), D.C. keeps the party happenin’ all night. Inject a few classics like Santana “Black Magic Woman” or War’s “Low Rider” into the live mix, and you have the recipe for one helluva hot night of music.
Fronting the band on keyboards and lead vocals, D.C. cooks up songs that are witty, gritty, and honest, with enough clever hooks to reel in listeners and turn them into devoted fans. Powered by a souped-up rhythm section of dual percussionists (Dave Santana, drums and Gary Miller, congas and bongos) and a driving, jazzed-up bass (Bobby Fry), they invite you along for a thrilling ride, through an ever-changing musical landscape peppered with blues, jazz, soul, salsa, and more. Still others claim the band’s secret weapon is Big Tone Torres who keeps the music from becoming too polished, adding a raw, rock ‘n roll guitar sound to keep the music fresh.    
“The blues people say it’s more rock, the rock people say it’s jazz, and the jazz people say it’s Blues,” laughs DC. He likes to call it “Live Music for Live People.”
One thing’s for sure: D.C. and Co. has cultivated an impressive audience with their top-shelf soulful sound. Just check out any club or event where D.C. & Co. are performing and you’ll find the joint jumping. Who would’ve thought the fertile fields of Lancaster could yield such a bountiful crop of Soul instead of Soybeans?
“We write and play music that excites us,” explains D.C., “we try to entertain the way we like to be entertained.” - Music Head Magazine - by Dave Strange


"D.C. & Co. Live! by Ray Grunnert"

"Try squeezing into Symposium for mega-popular D.C. & Co."
"An evening with D.C. & Co. means a Blues Rock dance hall melt down, salted and seasoned with saxophone solos, incendiary guitar playing and big doses of Allman Brothers power Rhythms.
Dave Costarella's joyfully funky originals, set along side some classic rock covers also contain just enough jazz licks from the horn section to top the tunes off with a playful froth.
Here is a seven piece band you will be glad you got together with and glad they got you feeling good!"...
- Lancaster Intellegencer Journal


"D.C. & CO. Ain't That Somethin' Cold Wind Records USA"


Someone seems not to have informed D.C. & Co.'s Dave Costerella that it's not the early 1970s any more and all those big horn-section rock/Jazz/R&B bands are either long gone (Chase, Ten Wheel Drive, Lighthouse) or doddering (Chicago). Somebody deserves a serious thanks. Because Ain't That Somethin' is a breath of seriously fresh air: think Randy Newman in a good mood for once and fronting Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Think Joe Cocker revving the old engine for one more go-round. Mr. Costerella has one of those seriously raunchy catarrh-laden voices like Rod Stewart early on, and his band can back him to the hilt. Based in Pennsylvania, D.C.& Co., can cop an Al Green lyric and wed it to a Canned Heat gutbucket blues ("Take Me Down Take Me Down", which features some stinging Duane Allman-like slide guitar courtesy of Frank DiNunzio), borrow a funky pre-Elvis jump blues from you-name it ("What a But-But," with a quote any number of construction workers must be serenading unlucky young women with in and around Philly: I will not repeat it here because my daughter reads JAZZ NOW and would slug me), and wrap a hot organ line around a swinging ode to the dance floor and another Friday Thank God. And I thought only Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes remembered that magic formula any more.
Before I go on, the careful reader may notice all the names I've dropped.
This was for a very good reason. D.C. and Co. understand one of the more important dicta of music writing, especially R&B. Bad composers borrow. Great ones steal. Elsewhere on this rockin' recording, and I have not written that in a while, "Move It On Down the Line" allows guitarist Big Tone Torres to do his Jerry Lee Lewis yelp, while if you prefer a bit of salsa spice you might try the instrumental "La Samba de Costarella." The Randy Newman connection comes in a bit more strongly with "Betrayed," a piano-driven observation from Costarella about how admitting one has failed brings a sort of peace, but not the right sort. Excellent, and just the right amount of irony.
This band's sense of talent depth is formidable, as can be heard in Doug Hill and Eric Ensminger's horn arrangements. "Heaven Can't," for example, owes something to early Chicago in that it develops the melody as opposed to providing aural pillowfeathers for everbody else to cushion against. No cushioning of any kind on this CD, and this track contains another Costarella verbal gem ("Heaven can't need you more than me!"). Kudos to keys player Mark Huber and his lovely bow-out on "The New Wedding March," to Mr. DiNunzio for a ring-a-ding-ding vocal which graces the Sinatra-esque "Clip My Wings," and again to whoever has not bought these folks a calendar for several decades. Too much fun to pass up.
by Ken Egbert
http://www.jazznow.com/0803/0803NS.html
- Jazznow by Ken Egbert


"D.C. & Co. Ain't That Somethin'"

D.C. and Co. are based out of the Lancaster area and play what bandleader Dave Costarella calls "horn powered rockin' blues with a twist of jazz." I would add, a touch of big band as well. This is a great sounding CD, recorded at Right Coast Recorders and Sound Cage Studio featuring big horns and big arrangements from extremely professional musicians. From the bluesy "Take Me Down" to the latin styled "La Samba de Costarella" to the Rat Pack swing of "Clip My Wings" to the 50s style rocker "Move It On Down The Line" D.C. and Co. do it all and do it well. All of the songs on the CD are originals, a bold move that the band pulls off in style. Get this CD of many blues styles at their gigs or online at www.dcandco.net Where D.C. and Co do a variety of blues, jazz and more.
Sterling Koch PA Musician
- PA Musician- by Sterling Koch


"D.C. & Co. Somethin's Happenin'"

“Pennsylvania soulsters D.C. & Co. pull out the big-band sound on Somethin’s Happenin’ (self released) Horns, organ and percussion push the feel toward Santana and Steely Dan. Tight arrangements and on-the-money vocals from bandleader Dave Costarella have class and vigor – assuredly a great live act.” ………..blues revue - blues revue


"D.C. & Co. is for real!"

“D.C. has a serious career ahead of him. He writes on a world class level. His singing style is unique in that it harkens back to the big band singers and at the same time has up to date rock energy, which translates into direct emotional communication with the audience.”….Herb Gart (Manager, Producer, of Bill Cosby, Don McLean, Charlie Daniels ect…) - Music Monthly - Herb Gart


"D.C. & Co. Live!"

“Alive –with a wild unpredictable mix of Rock, R & B, Jazz, Latin Percussion and Swing. Lancaster’s D.C. & Co. fits the word Live to a tee!”… - Fly Magazine


"Catch D.C. & Co."


“Leader, Dave Costarella, has a gritty style and a rocky soulful voice and a band to die for!”
- Blues Access


Discography

"Somethin' Definately Goin' On" 1994 self released. Presently being distibuted by Cold Wind Records.

"Somethin's Happenin'" 1997 self released. Recievd rave reviews in national press airplay on radio stations through out the U.S.A. while continuosly charting on CMJ's top 30 charts. Presently being Nationally distributed by Cold Wind Records.

"Aint That somethin'" Just completed and to be released internationally Feb/March 2003 by Cold Wind Records.
Presently 3 tracks are being considered by Warner Bros. for use in film.
www.coldwind.com

D.C. & Co. Alive to be released Jan. 2008

Photos

Bio

Lancaster, Pa’s “D.C. & Co.” have been recording and performing their unique blend of horn-powered, rockin/blues, swing, funk, Latin, and jazz throughout the northeastern states since the mid 90’s. Combining road tested originals and custom tailored covers, this 8 piece band of extremely talented and diverse musicians has been labeled one of the areas’ best live bands. Drawing comparisons in press to “Allman Brothers meet Tower of Power”, and “Chicago with Santana and James Brown”, the most common adjective used to describe their performances has been “soul”. Soul Drenched, Soul Driven, Soul to soul, are just a few of the catch phrases that have been written. Band leader, songwriter, keyboardist, & vocalist, Dave Costarella explains, “I say it’s blues based, but the soul is where all the music comes from. The instruments and the vocals are just the vehicles to get it out. All these musicians play from the tips of their toes on up, we live it every time. There’s no sleep walking going on here.”

D.C. & Co.’s three CDs (Somethin’ Definitely Goin’ On 1994, Somethin’s Happenin’ 1997, Ain’t That Somethin’2003) of original songs have enjoyed world wide radio play and received rave reviews in international press while continuously charting in CMJ top 30 lists. With a brand new live CD “D.C. & Co. Alive” slated for release Jan. 2008, the band has captured the raw energy and musical spontaneity that have thrilled their audiences for over a decade. Instead of show casing their original songs as they’ve done on their studio CDs, the majority of tracks on this live CD feature cover songs (Stevie Wonder, Steven Stills, War, Billy Preston, Billy Holiday ect.) that the band has reinvented & turned into their own, over the years.

Dave Costarella and D.C. & Co. have performed and headlined in music festivals, city and corporate events and in clubs, through out PA, MD, NY, DE, & NJ. They’ve shared the
stage , recorded with and produced a vast amount of international talent, including, Room Full Of Blues, Commander Cody, Clarence Spady, Kenny Neal, The Reese Project, Frank DiNunzio, Robin Work, Eric Steckel, Ann Rabson, Tom Principato , Bill Kirchen, Sharrie Williams, to name a few. Their music has been featured in films and on major network television. D.C. & Co. continue to write and record new music and perform high energy live shows. For more information or bookings, please visit www.dcandco.net or call 717 293-0851.