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Vanguard: Chesterwhite & His Orchestra
By Keith Kehrer

Chesterwhite and crew explode out of the starting block right off with the "Galley Slave". Lead singer and songwriter Donny Dykowsky comes by his passion honestly having gone through painful cancer treatments in the late 90’s. For a minute I thought I was hearing that long lost Jeff Buckley release. But, there is an intensity here that Jeff only hinted at. The band simmers and roars and Donny literally wails over them almost like a shaman exhorting them to give him more and in fact there is a song called appropriately enough “More”. I love the rawness and sweetness of these songs. Dave Dunn has that roots rocking edge to his guitar that makes you want him to play more solos. Seth and Sir Freddy lay down a solid sledge hammer bottom that is both sensitive and solid to these intensely personal slices of life. This is definitely a band that must be seen live.

Now on to the songs. First of all, they are all winners . I didn’t hear a weak one in the bunch. I can’t wait for their next release.

"Galley Slave" had me bouncing in chair. It’s a bootie shaking, party boogie though "Galley Slave" brings up pictures of grunting, sweaty men rowing a boat while being whipped by a mean looking Viking guy. “It’s a metaphor Keith. Not real.” Oh ok. Sometimes I get carried away with my imagination.

"Low" shows another side of Donny and band. It has that power pop feel like Jellyfish or this band I used to like, The Falling Wallenda’s. 

"Moonage Daydream" definitely has that glam thing going on. Someone’s parents must have had some T-Rex or Ziggy Stardust on while Donny was in the crib. I love the guitar bridge. Such an unusual guitar solo. Simply smashing.  This song stayed with me a while. The Count nails the ending in class rock guitar god tradition. Radio stations take note. This is a hit. 

"12 O’Clock" has such a killer riff. I want to play with these guys. My guitar fingers were itching. I love guitar solos and this one has a killer one. So simple and traditional but it works. The fuzzy chorus effect on the vocals pushed them over the top. 

"Well Love Song" is not the most original title for a song but this song has drive and panache. (Sheesh, did I just say panache?). I can hear this track in a film. Maybe a slasher teen movie eh? Some music license potential here for sure. Boy, Donny can sure can hold out those high notes. Impressive!

"Yes. Give me More" .  A little French cabaret thing going on. It has a sweet melody and killer chord progression. I wanted it to go longer and to kick into something big and monsterous. It just teased me into wanting more. 

I can see Chrissie Hynde singing "Idiots" snarling the words. Another chair bouncer/air guitar song here.  The band really pushes Donny to go all the way to edge on this one. More nice guitar work. I am really impressed with how much this band cooks. It must be fun singing with these guys.

"Father Frank’s Crusade" is another one of those songs that begs to be on the radio. Love the wandering bass and guitar line. Lovely backing vocals. Sweet and strong.

Oh yes give me those 80’s new wave tom tom riffs.  Love this drummer. "Kill this town" is another song for the Pretenders catalog.  Rootsy and rockin’ playing Donny’s voice off monster guitar riffs.

Just when I think I have these guys figured out then they go and throw "On the weekend" at me.  A stop time rockabilly style thing. I can hear Donny snear in true Elvis fashion. Really I can. What a fun guitar solo, so, cliche but it’s like the best taffy that you should’nt really eat and do anyway. Short but sweet.

"Sunburn" is a vocal tour-de-force. Donny out Buckely’s Jeff Buckley for sure, bringing his own screaming angst to this track reaching notes I can only dream of hitting. I can feel his emotions soar as I close my eyes and float to the sound of his voice like an angel in dispair.

"No other love" should make all the girls swoon. Almost a 1950’s or Righteous Brothers tune for a new age.  Get on your knees Donny and make the ladies scream and ache for you. A very fitting end to a very passionate release for this band. Oh, and the guitar solo is short and a beauty. 

CD Info 

Chesterwhite & His Orchestra 
Galley Slave
Moonage Daydream
12 O'Clock High
Love Song
Father Frank's Crusade
Kill This Town
On The Weekend
No Other Love
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online (plus read the inspirational story about Donny's battle with cancer and how this CD played a big part in it.

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