The Dean Balkwill Band At Justa Bar By Jennifer Tarrazi-Scully

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Imagine this: a very cute charismatic man, incredible musicians, nice neighborhood bar, great company, and a little pelvic thrust with your cocktail.  No I’m not talking about a trashy strip club it is Justa Bar.   No really, it’s just a bar.  On Friday, June 24th, 2011 I made it out to see the Dean Balkwill Band at Justa Bar in Woodstock.

Normally I’m not a bar hoppin’ kind of gal, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I actually sat in one. However, this stormy Fri. night I received an invitation to see a seasoned Broadway performer at an establishment right around the corner.  I threw on my shoes and purse and was out the door, lickety split.

Dean Balkwill, holy crap, walked into the space emitting a light from within that only occurs when someone is just ecstatic  about what they are about to do.  All smiles, he floated across the space like Zeus on his electric cloud.  Luckily, he already knew my friend and introductions were made warmly and with a giant hug, as though saying, “come join me, we are going to do this together”.  He had me at the hand shake.

This guy has had a full professional performing career.  He has toured the country and graced the stages of Toronto and NYC in Broadway productions such as Rent and the Lion King.  So we know he has some skills. I still didn’t have any idea what we were in for and I wasn’t in the mood for piano bar, lusty lounge or an evening of sing-a-long show tunes.  To my delight, he got into the groove with some Marvin Gaye and “What’s Going On”.    It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I’ll set the scene.  This performer has a unique dynamic personality, but covers music that spans all popular genres.  His impressions of the original singers are impeccable, like Mick Jagger doing “Brown Sugar”, but he’s able to infuse his own wacky humor into it all.  He climbs on the railings, goofily seduces the audience and waggles his bum to everything.  I’m pretty sure, if they were playing Mozart, he would still be shaking his bottom.

Let’s talk music, shall we.  Throughout the night we got to enjoy inspired guitar and slide guitar solos by Steve Cunningham.  Some of them were so beautiful I got goose bumps.  In “Busta Move” drummer Mike Haid sang all the high notes of the chorus.  His masterful drumming kept the backbone of the band together from disco to country to pop.  Then we have the very talented and adorable bassist Marshal Coats.  Who, I believe, performed with Dean for the first time this fine evening.  He was so good you never would have guessed. On top of all that, Dean can also get down with a guitar.

My professionalism ended with “Brick House”.  With some egging on, I put down my trusty pen and started to dance.  The fun being had on stage was infectious, and I, along with the rest of the eclectic audience, jumped up and shook my own “groove thang”.

The show was organized well.  The first section was older R&B and disco, then they moved on to more contemporary music, like “Streets Have No Name” by U2.  They seamlessly dived into country and ending the evening with some fun rock and roll, like Aerosmith’s “Walk this way” and “Purple Rain” by Prince.  His Prince impression included a sneak peek Balkwill’s nipple.  At one point, they succumbed to peer-pressure and Mike sang “Freebird”.

Don’t worry about missing a great experience, The Dean Balkwill band plays at Justa Bar every other Friday at 8pm.  So if you want to have a really good time, in the mood for a bit of raunchy behavior and have some money in your pocket for the love bucket, come on out to see these guys.  You won’t be disappointed.  It truly was one of the best times I’ve had in a while.

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