Bill Toms and Hard Rain
LIVE (featuring The Soulville Horns)
Bill Tom’s “writes songs that stir emotion, challenge the mind, and move the tail feather”, and that ladies and gentlemen defines rock ‘n’ roll. Bill Toms is a working man. Being a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania guy that ethic is forged into you. He works at being a songwriter. He works at being one heck of a band leader for one of the regions coolest bands, he works at putting food on the table, he works at easing our pain and sorrow come Friday night at our favorite juke joints.
“Working in the mill now
Working every day now
I try to pay the bills
Working in the mill” – “Workin’ “ by Bill Toms
Bill Toms & Hard Rain LIVE (featuring) The Soulville Horns is every man’s rock and by god blues band. Bill Toms is a poet. These songs wouldn’t hold up as well without the lyrics. They are every bit of difference between a bar band and something special. Bill Toms co-produced the album with Rick Witkowski, Rick also recorded the album at the legendary Pittsburgh, PA ‘Club Cafe’ on May 5 2018. Witkowski has excelled in the music industry for over 40 years and is an Oscar-winning composer who has collaborated with Toms on several albums. Hard Rain is the backbone. They do all the heavy lifting in this outfit. You just can’t get the same sound without them. They hold everything up. They are Tom Breiding on guitar and backing vocals, Steve Binsberger on piano and organ, Tom Valentine on bass, backing vocal, and lead vocal on “Into The Storm”, Bernie Herr is the band’s drummer. The Soulville Horns bring everything home. They set the tone and raise the “brass” bar. Together they are Phil Brontz on tenor saxophone, Steve Graham on trombone, and George Arner on trumpet. If Bill Toms is the heart and Hard Rain is the bone, Soulville Horns is the blood and soul amen.
The above quote is from the opening song and if there’s any doubt about the albums theme, it’s a rock n’ roll revival with the grit of a Pittsburgh steelworker. These are working man’s blues in the vein of Springsteen. Unlike Bruce, Bill Toms doesn’t just sing these blues, he works them. “I Got No Use (For What Your Selling Me)” is a full wall of sound. The guitar cries out, the keys tickle, the groove makes you want to shake your tail feathers, and the horns punctuate with precision. This is an album that simply R.O.C.K.S! “Paying These Dues” asks “won’t somebody pay me” with a Bernie Herr groove. “The Darkest Side of Town” is a hormone pumping foot stomping rocker. Oh my, that Hammond organ pulls everything into a toe to toe showdown between guitar and saxophone. This is a cock-fight set to music. “Nothing Like My Baby” swings, “Devil’s Train” grooves, “I Won’t Go To Memphis No More” Rolls, “Into The Storm” saunters, “I Ain’t Worried” shakes it off, and rounding out the revival is “Somebody Help Me”, these are great songs.
An absolute favorite is “Your Love Is Good For My Soul”. Good god y’all this is exactly what you’re looking for period. James Brown and Ray Charles are definitely in the room for this song. The Soulville Horns features prominently, and this is as close to perfect as a song gets. The Phil Brontz tenor saxophone solo on the chilling “The Ballad of Jimmy Jones” is beautiful at capturing the dramatic events unfolding in the story. A true account of a bank robbers last five minutes, leaving no doubt that Bill Toms can write a dang song. Appropriately chosen as the last song, “I’m Sad No More” is pure rock and roll revival. It’s exactly how you feel after listening to the album.
Bill Toms & Hard Rain LIVE (featuring) T
he Soulville Horns is exactly what we’re looking for. It’s rock and rollicking roll to heal the soul. Get the album, go see them LIVE! They are a working band and they are on tour, go find them and bring your friends, I’ll see you there.
- Viola Krouse