The Speakeasys
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The Speakeasys

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"Eric Reardon guitar prodigy"

…New England Blues legend James Montgomery “…he certainly is way beyond I was at his age…” says Montgomery about Eric’s guitar prowess. “…What impresses me and my other band members about him is that he is a very inventive player, way beyond his years in terms of being able to just jam and go with it. His solos are seamless. He’s got really great ears, not only for someone his age, but for anyone.”

…Henley Douglas, of the Boston Horns, “…the thing about Eric is that he has something to say, and he can say it through his instrument and it is totally valid. That’s how you start. It’s like learning how to carry on a conversation. He’s a great communicator and he’s still just 14 years old. In this day and age, God Bless a child that wants to get involved in some arts and take it to that level where he can actually interact with professional musicians.”

- www.ericreardon.com


"A conversation with the Speakeasys"

Talking with the Speakeasys
Band at Blackburn considers audience its 5th member


By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer


Singer Sarah Seminski met a young guitar virtuoso while taking part in a Hurricane Katrina recovery benefit.

From that first gig, Seminski and Eric Reardon, now 19, formed part of a band whose mission is to entertain the audience — based on whatever mood that audience may share on any given night.

"It's about feeling the audience," said Seminski. "Audience participation is mandatory. Whatever the audience brings to the table, we react to musically. For example, if the audience is mellow, then our playing will complement their mood. If the audience is rowdy, we give them everything we got at that end of the spectrum. Either way, we go on this big ride with them. I think that's what makes us original."

The band, called the Speakeasys, will perform on Saturday at the Blackburn Performing Arts. The Erinn Brown band will play following this act.

Seminski, the lead singer from Salem, graduated from Boston University with a degree in theater studies, having won a playwright's award for her one-woman show. She brings together her theatrical experience with her musical talents to help create the energy in the show.

"We guarantee that the audience will leave feeling like they've just participated in something different," she said.

Will Hunt, a producer at Blackburn Performing Arts, said Seminski is a special performer.

"The energy level and emotion are phenomenal," said Hunt. "The Speakeasys burn. This band is an absolutely unique partnership between some very different individuals from disparate countries and generations, somehow pulling together influences going all the way back to the 30s to create a new sound. This has to be one of the most talented and interesting bands we've had here at the Blackburn."

People often ask the Speakeasys to describe their sound. Their band statement simply notes that, "With explosive, progressive and electric sounds, the Speakeasys aren't your run-of-the-mill rock band."

The band was born when Seminski met Reardon, then 14 years old, at a 2005 Katrina benefit when she asked Eric if she could accompany him on a rendition of "Stir it Up" by Bob Marley. The two have been playing together ever since. They perform their original songs as well as their own versions of cover songs.

Reardon, who is well known on the North Shore, has been playing since he was 8 years old. His parents own the Pig's Eye in Salem, and his father, Jon Reardon, a guitarist, was his biggest influence in the beginning.

"He passed his love of guitar to his son," said Seminski.

The band grew when Rory Walsh, a native of Ireland, joined in. Seminski described him as a "world-traveled, world-class whirlwind of a drummer."

Walsh, a fellow music worshiper who has played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, first heard the Speakeasys perform at the Pig's Eye. He had planned to retire from the music scene but he was impressed by their synergy and joined the band, bringing his experience and passion for music. Walsh also filled in the band's rhythm section with Chris Noyes, adding his talents on bass, brass and wind instruments.

In addition to their own songs, they perform an ever-evolving catalogue of covers.

"Every time we sing a song, it changes," said Seminski. "While we're not a jazz band, we are moved by the improvisational style that jazz musicians bring to the stage. At any given moment, our sound goes from jazz to rock to blue to soul. We run the gamut of styles because that's who we are. We just want to play for as many people as possible all the time because that makes our dream of performing music a reality."

The Speakeasys likes to talk about the "fifth" member of the band — the audience.

"We like to create a 'call and response' musical experience," said Seminksi. "The greater the response to the music, the higher the band will ascend."

Sharing the bill with the Speakeasys will be Erinn Brown and her band. She is described as an accomplished and soulful singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. She recently released a CD titled "Don't Forget About It" with a Who's-who of North Shore talent contributing to the work. She has performed for the Marblehead Festival For The Arts and the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival. Her band is comprised of Alison Keslow on bass, Steve Peabody on drums and Ric St. Germain on guitar.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com

IF YOU GO

What: The Speakeasys perform Saturday at 8 p.m. followed by the Erinn Brown Band.

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: Blackburn Performing Arts at One Washington St. in Gloucester. Admission is $10 for the all-ages show. For reservations, call 978-281-0680.

- Gloucester Times


Discography

Dear Lee

Giles Corey

Gravity Stop Working

Not About the Money

Over Near the River

Pictures of Paradise

Princess Eyes

Sisters Song

The King is Dead

You and I

Photos

Bio

With explosive, progressive and electric sounds, the Speakeasys aren’t your run-of-the-mill rock band. Harkening back to the days of prohibition; the intimacy between musician and audience in cramp jazz clubs and juke joints, the quartet with it’s stew of influences: blues, soul, and classic rock jam gives new meaning to words “musical experience”. Imagine the heady, slightly offbeat sounds of Bjork matched with Derek Trucks, led by Led Zeppelin’s rhythm section and you’ll be close to the sound of the Speakeasys. Their live performances are fueled by improvisation, skilled musicianship, and worship of music guaranteeing an unforgettable experience.

The story of the Speakeasys is the story of their sound: a little improvisation here, a whole pot full of talent there, and you get a stew of heart-pumping sound and melodies. Lead singer, Sarah Seminski and Eric Reardon, then a 14 year old guitar virtuoso at the time, met at a Hurricane Katrina benefit in Saugus in 2005. Sarah asked Eric if she could accompany him on a rendition of “Stir it Up” by Bob Marley and the two have been playing together ever since. World traveled drummer, Rory Walsh, who played with the likes of Herbie Hancock, met the Speakeasys just as he was planning on retiring from the music scene. After seeing Sarah and Eric perform at the Pig’s Eye he was taken by their synergy and quickly became an integral part of the band, adding a wave of emotionally driven beats and contributing his experience and passion for music. It was Rory who searched and found the band’s missing rhythm section link in Chris Noyes, a multi instrumentalist with experience playing bass, brass and wind instruments.

If the band has one very simple mission it’s this: to play their hearts out to as many people as possible. The stage is their bedroom, and we all know that with the right elements, that’s where “the magic happens.”

The Speakeasys never forget the “fifth” and perhaps most important member of the band: their audience. Like a Southern Baptist revival, lead singer Sarah Seminski is a cross between a resurrected Janis Joplin and preacher: there’s not a piece of her that doesn’t get electrified when singing, sending forth streaks of intensity and fire to every listener in the crowd, to the bottoms of their rubber soled feet. And just like a revival, you, the listener have a role to play in the creation of the Speakeasie’s sound; the band pride itself in the inclusion of the audience in its improvisations. The Speakeasies are a “call and response” musical experience; the greater the response to their music, the higher the band ascends to new musical depths.

The Speakeasys have played all over the north shore of Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, and most of New Hampshire with plans to play the East Coast and beyond.