Monday, July 30, 2018

Summer Time Rocking with COUNT'S 77 - Gig Review from Snoqualmie, WA on 7/27/18

Count's 77

Snoqualmie Casino
Snoqualmie, WA

(all photos by Mark Sugiyama - Eclectic Arts)


I was born in 1970. I saw my first concert in 1979. I saw my second concert in 1982. So, while I consider myself more of an 80's rock and metal guy, I can also appreciate the rock bands of the 70's without question.

The rock bands of the 70's plugged in, turned it up, and put the pedal to the musical metal. This was an era where there were no backing tracks (at least not compared to what many artists use today), no Pro Tools, no MTV, "no social media" (inside joke - watch my interview with the band), etc. Many bands jammed - guitarists went nuts - and the vibe was down and dirty rock and roll at it's finest.

This brings me to Count's 77. They are a six-piece band out of Sin City (Las Vegas, NV) that gained national and international notoriety due to their lead singer - Mr. Danny Koker aka The Count. For those not in the know, Danny is the star of the hit television program, "Counting Cars" on History. The show is in its 8th season (Tuesday's) and going strong.

I know what some of you are thinking. This must be a vanity project of Danny's. He put together a band so he can go on stage, sing some tunes, and feel like a rock star. As if owning his own car shop (Count's Kustoms), tattoo shop (Count's Tattoo Company), rock bar (Count's Vamp'd), production facility (The Count's - Desert Moon Productions), and being on TV wasn't enough, he must be center stage in a rock band to get even more attention for himself and his brand - the ultimate narcissist.

And you'd be dead wrong.

Count's 77 is a band. Once you see them play live, they will leave no doubt in your mind that they are a rock and roll band, pure and simple. No pretense, no bullshit, not a vanity project - just a honest group of musicians that love 70's era rock and have a great time playing it.

Stoney Curtis and John Zito on guitars, Barry Barnes on bass, Paul Disibio on drums, and Tommy Paris on keyboards complete the lineup.

Stoney and John have to be two of the most underrated guitar players out there. Blues based rock licks for days my friends. You know the formula - Gibsons/Fenders, Marshalls, and a whole lot of guitar-slinging attitude were the order of the day. I was beyond impressed with both guitarists. Stoney was digging in deep with his lead work all the while throwing shapes on stage. John had his Les Paul slung low so his right arm was hanging straight while he had his way with one song after the next.

And if you like extended guitar solos - you were in heaven Friday night. Stoney and John just went for it. I have to add I appreciated John's slide work as well. Man oh man - when you have guitarists like Stoney and John in your band, you can't go wrong. You just can't!

Not to be out done, Barry and Paul were rocking the rhythm section. Also seasoned professional musicians, it was a pleasure, a pleasure man, watching these two get down each and every song. I really liked how Barry played for the song - sometimes keeping it simple and grooving, while other times showing his chops with the occasional right handed tap high up on the neck inbetween a barrage of notes on his Fender. Paul, as all drummers are, was the engine in the band. Pounding the crap out of his kit with watch-like precision but loose enough to make sure the groove wasn't lost, Paul kept the train rolling all night long.

Tommy played keys and sang to add that crucial musical layer to the songs. All of the guys did backup vocals but Tommy's were key (pun intended) to creating that 70's vibe of a live band playing without a net. From organ to piano and everything inbetween, Tommy brought everything together.

With five stellar musicians in Count's 77 - this made quite honestly for a tall order for the lead vocalist. If Danny couldn't sing or even couldn't sing very well, man, the audience would know (musicians or not). So how did The Count fare?

Like a rock star!

You could tell this was Danny's way of rejuvenating his soul. Many don't know but music was Danny's first passion - passed on from his father. He's been singing forever. So, those that wondered how this "car guy from TV" would fare on stage - he showed just how much he can sing but more importantly - how much he absolutely loves music and Count's 77.

You can't fake your personal energy when you perform in front of an audience. If you're dialing it in on stage, if you're a hack of a musician, if you're a conceited jerk, the fans will pick up on it. Danny's energy emanating from the stage was nothing but pure joy. We all witnessed a man, a vocalist that loved every minute of playing music. Did I mention the show was two hours?! If there wasn't a curfew (due to this being an outdoor concert), they easily could of played three hours. Count's 77 is the real deal, folks.

Spend five minutes talking with Danny and you'll find a guy that feels blessed to be doing what he's doing. He's not acting per se on "Counting Cars", he is being himself. It really is a case of what you see is what you get. A humble, hard working guy, that loves what he loves, made businesses out of those interests, and wants to have a good time enjoying life and the people he encounters along the way. You couldn't meet a nicer guy or the guys in the band!

The band played songs from their two albums - their 2014 self-titled debut and 2017's "Soul Transfusion". Mixed in were some of their favorite covers from classic bands from the 70's - think Golden Earring, Foghat, The Doors, Bob Seger, you get the idea.

The Count's 77 concert at Snoqualmie Casino on Friday was a testament to the power of music, musician-friendship, and, really, the American way. The guys in the band clearly love playing together and it showed in spades. If you ever get the chance to check out Count's 77 - either in Vegas or in your town, do so. You'll leave with a smile on your face, your soul fulfilled, and your head full of 70's rock and roll memories.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

EA on YouTube

P.S. I have to add this - I gambled a bit on the slots that night. When I cashed out my tickets, the amount I was given was: $70.70. I kid you not! The Count works in mysterious ways.

Thanks to Kevin for the credentials to interview the band as well as shoot/review the show. Also thanks for offering to be the videographer so my mom could relax and just listen in to the interview. That was much appreciated. Thanks for everything!

Thanks to Jennifer from Snoqualmie Casino for the day of event assistance - everything went smoothly and professionally. I hope to see you at more shows at Snoqualmie.

And of course huge thanks to all of the guys in Count's 77 - you guys are the best and I wish you every success! Any time you're in the greater Seattle area, with any of your bands, let's get together and talk shop over some brews and tunes. Safe travels!


1 comment:

  1. I've seen Counts 77 twice and they are everything you've said plus some. You can feel the energy, the soul and every bit of love for the music!! They are an amazing group of gentlemen!