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Still Cool, Still Blue

[whitespace] Nitecry
Lessons in the Blues: The newest version of Nitecry reaffirms its roots.

San Jose's Nitecry returns with new members and a renewed blues beat

By Nicky Baxter

IT'S A FAMILIAR tale. A band starts out playing for cheap, in the process carving out a niche on the local circuit, generates a following and, with luck, is snapped up by a suit from a major label. In reality, many bands break up before the big break comes along. Too many years on the road almost invariably lead to internal strife, and suddenly the band is, well, not even history. San Jose's Nitecry is a different story.

After a decade of performing on the local and national circuit, playing everything from bars to festivals, Nitecry is poised for real success at long last. With a new singer, a new bassist and management--topped off by a European distribution deal--Nitecry may not be done paying dues, but it looks like the group's hard work and tenacity are beginning to pay off.

Nitecry has long been known as one of the hardest-rocking combos in the South Bay. Fronted by ace guitarist Rene Solis, Nitecry laces its sound with West Coast R&B and blues. The groove-giddy lead and background vocals are buoyed by Richard Palmer's keyboards and Craig Detwiler's honky-tonk saxophone.

Understandably, bandleader/lead guitarist Solis is excited. "We've waited a long time for this, and now it looks like it's happening," he says. "Our new singer, Dave Wilson [Jr.], is fantastic; he really fits in, not only musically but chemistry-wise." Ditto, bassist "Fingers" Farrell.

What prompted the changes? "Well, [singer/guitarist] Steve Siacotis wanted to refocus his life; he wanted a change of pace." Solis adds that Siacotis' departure was amicable; the singer stayed on until the band found a replacement. With the lead singer calling it quits, Nitecry faced a tough decision: to be or not to be.

Fortunately, the group opted to stick it out. "[Saxophonist] Craig Detwiler and Andy Thrall, our drummer, were all for it," Solis says. Solis emphasizes that Detwiler has been a big part of Nitecry's success--his opinion counted. That support made it much easier for Solis and keyboardist Richard Palmer to keep the group together. "Once the band committed," Solis explains, "we set out to find a lead vocalist and bassist."

After innumerable auditions, Solis discovered what he was looking for. Wilson and Farrell were working together on a side project. The two were invited to audition, and after running through a few tunes, they were hired. Solis and Palmer were so impressed by Wilson's talent that they rushed to the studio to rerecord four songs from the band's 1997 release, Too Cool to Be Blue.

Wilson's new treatment of the rollicking R&B number "Lesson in the Blues" seethes with intensity. His vocal style is crisp, fluid, more soul-based than Siacotis' rock-influenced singing. Wilson displays a real grasp of blues-blowing on another rerecording, "Since You Left Me." His vocal approach is raw and swaggering, ratcheting up the tune's tension level several notches. Too bad these new versions are promo-only.

Speaking of promotion, the band has procured SR Fox Productions' Sue Gilmour to sell the new and improved product. Couple that move with a new contract with two European record distribution companies covering most of the continent, and the rebirth of Nitecry seems complete. "Things are really popping now. We have the team in place, and with that we're just gonna move forward into 1999."

Nitecry performs for a Halloween concert Saturday (Oct. 31) at JJ's Blues, 3439 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose. Tickets are $8. (408/243-6441)

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From the October 29-November 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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