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The Stompers (with Steve Gilligan and The Woodpeckers opening) ~ 2014 November 29 ~ Bull Run Restaurant ~ Shirley, MA

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Sal Baglio, Sam Wood, John Biafore
Sal Baglio, Sam Wood, John Biafore
click thumbnail to see an extensive photo gallery
of the concert

Personnel: Sal Baglio, lead vocals, lead guitar; John Biafore, guitar, backing vocals; Jeremy Brown, electric piano, backing vocals; Dave Friedman, electric organ, backing vocals; Steve Gilligan, electric bass, backing vocals; Sam Wood, drums.

Opening acts: Steve Gilligan (vocals, guitar) accompanied by Kenny Selcer (guitar) and Dave Friedman (electric organ, a couple of songs); followed by The Woodpeckers: Sal Baglio (vocals, guitar); Jeff Keithline (vocals, bass); Sam Wood (drums); Steven Wood (vocals, guitar)

Set List (The Stompers)

This Is Rock 'n' Roll - Shutdown - First Kiss - Good News Now - You're the One - Temptation - Equilibrium - Just Like Rain - One Heart For Sale - Palisades Park - American Fun - Rock Jump & Holler - Never Tell An Angel - Coast to Coast ... encore ... All I Want For Christmas Is a Rock 'n' Roll Guitar - Dirty Water

Set List (Steve Gilligan's opening set)

The Sun Belongs To Anyone - The Other Side of the Rain - Heaven Allows - A Little Lovin' Tonight - I Wanna Know

Set List (The Woodpecker's second opening set)

They played five songs but I did not get all the titles.

Scroll down past the videos for review.


"Little Lovin' Tonight" (Steve Gilligan with Kenny Selcer)

"When I Was Cool" (The Woodpeckers with Jeff Keithline on lead vocal)

"45" (The Woodpeckers with Sal Baglio on lead vocal)

"You're The One" (The Stompers)


The Stompers have played this annual post-Thanksgiving show at the Bull Run in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Shirley, MA, for several years now. Although they stick to more or less the same set list, the show is never the same. This time around a highlight of the show was the opening acts. Another was the playful and creative treatment Sal & Co. gave to some Stompers chestnuts.

Steve Gilligan, bass player for The Stompers, has a solo career going. He's put out two solo albums (both of which I recommend), Jacob's Well and this year's Winter Rain. A third is apparently in the works, since Steve played five songs, all of which (he said) will be on the upcoming album. He's a very good singer and songwriter with a good command of melody. His songs are not very Stomper-like, being more from the folk realm than the rock realm. He was accompanied by guitarist Kenny Selcer who added sweet, and sometimes jazzy, accompaniment. Stompers' organ player Dave Friedman wandered over to his instrument halfway through Steve's set and added a little color on the organ, as well. I got a video of one of Steve's songs (link above). Steve's opening set was well received by the sold-out crowd and a perfect introduction to an evening of great music.

As soon as Steve was finished, on came The Woodpeckers, who are a band Sal Baglio has recently formed with some Cape Cod musicians who also have played in The Catbirds (a Cape Cod band). Their set ratcheted up the decibels over Steve's acoustic set. Out came the earplugs! Their set was pure rock 'n' roll. Sal took the lead vocal on their first song, a cover of Elvis Costello's "They Called It Rock." They played one song each from Sal (a new rock number called "45," which I filmed, see link to video above), from Keith (the amusing "When I Was Cool," video link above), and from guitarist Steven Wood. The five song set was completed by a Chuck Berry cover. They were Stomper-like, and I couldn't help thinking that if The Stompers were still making new songs, "45" would be a perfect new Stompers song.

But The Stompers themselves only reunite a few times a year for these party-celebration-concerts, attended by many old fans, some of whom are introducing new (young) fans to their wonderful, joyful music. Given how infrequent their reunions are (and the fact that Dave Friedman lives in California), these six musicians are not in a position to record new music. I am just glad that Sal (and Steve as well) have created a situation for themselves where they can create new songs and record new music. Any Stompers fans who wish The Stompers would record again, look no further than The Woodpeckers.

The members of The Stompers were out on stage, singing backup, by the time The Woodpeckers were finishing up. A pause of no more than one minute ensued before they tore into "This Is Rock 'n' Roll" as their opening number. Their 16-song set included most of The Stompers' beloved regional hits, with much singing along from the sold-out crowd. At one point someone in the audience called out for "Palisades Park," and Sal pretended they weren't going to play it. ("Of course we're going to play it!") "One Heart For Sale" (that #1 hit in a parallel universe) was very different from other times I've heard it played. It was played in a semi-acoustic fashion, with just Sal on guitar, and the four backing vocalists (Jeremy, Steve, John, and Dave) up on stage, sharing microphones, singing very nice backing harmony.

Longtime drummer Lenny Shea is no longer with the band. He now plays with the The Rory Scott Band. The new drummer is Sam Wood, also a member of The Woodpeckers. When introducing the band, Sal expressed gratitude to Sam for helping them out when they were short a drummer. He's the son of guitarist Steven Wood of The Woodpeckers. The Stompers' sometimes second guitarist, John Biafore, was part of the band tonight, and his playing was fantastic. John is quite a collector of guitars and played several different instruments tonight, including one splendid Rickenbacker that added a gorgeous jangly sound to "First Kiss" and a couple of other songs.

Merch was handled by long-time friend of the band "Bubba," and his 12-year old son whom they have taken to calling "Mop." The teen looked very stylish in a Stompers t-shirt and porkpie hat. Among the merch for sale was a t-shirt with the names of the many venues the band played back in the day. Also assisting the band was long-time guitar tech Zeus.

The Bull Run bull that greets concert goers as they are walking in from the parking lot had a little cap of snow on his head. The night was bitterly cold outside. The holiday decorations were in place on stage, and Sal and Co. played "All I Want For Christmas is a Rock 'n' Roll Guitar" as part of their encore. Concert Going Partner and I left the place smiling, after what has become an annual tradition: our early holiday treat.

More Stompers

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