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It’s not enough to be talented anymore. You have to be creative as well. The Ross Livermore Band has established its talent through three records and countless gigs along the East Coast, but they’re now ready to take the next step along their unusual, visionary path.
Seeking to boost their presence on the Internet and not just in the clubs, Ross and his cohorts are releasing four video EPs of new songs shot live in the studio. They’ll roll out one free song video per month starting in January, 2014 — a novel idea that testifies to their will and ingenuity. And they’ll keep up the monthly release for the next year.
“Let’s do something that no one else is doing,” says Ross, who conceived the idea with his longtime drummer (and school friend dating back to the 8th grade) Paul Dumas. Together they also book and manage the band. Trying something new and imaginative makes sense because Ross was brought up by parents who also owned small businesses and knew how to grow them — his dad was an architect and his mother a hairdresser.
“You just have to make the opportunities for yourself. That’s what we’re trying to do,” says Ross, as he sits with Dumas in the house they share in Beverly, MA, just north of Boston. (It’s a cool bachelor’s hangout, right down to the couple of cases of beer in the fridge.) “We see bands giving away records for free, so let’s see what happens if we give them a new video every month,” adds Dumas. One thing for sure is that the group’s music is already coming together. The Ross Livermore Band excels in soul-influenced rock that is heavy on melody and percussive dance grooves. Some of Ross’s influences include Stevie Wonder (some of the group’s vocal harmonies would make Motown proud) and The Band. Paul’s influences run from Wonder to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. The group, which has become an electrifying live act, is augmented by keyboardist Phil Selesnick and bassist Neil Taylor.
The two bandleaders hail from Peabody, MA. and later attended college close to each other — Ross at Salem State and Paul at UMass-Lowell. They were in rock bands in high school and launched the Ross Livermore Band with the 2008 album, “To Life,” produced by Jesse Ciarmataro. That was followed by a 2010 EP, “Lost & Found,” recorded in Buffalo. They co-produced it with Joseph Anthony Secchiaroli, whom they didn’t know before but had a hunch could help them. “On a whim we took a week off and rented a Penske box truck and drove to Buffalo and recorded in a pickle factory,” says Ross. It combined some funky rock tunes with some singer-songwriter ballads. “It wasn’t very cohesive, but it was a good learning experience,” admits Ross. And it included a stunning cover of “Amazing Grace,” not typically covered by a rock band.
Next up was 2011′s self-titled record, which was made in Manhattan and again with production help from Secchiaroli, who had moved there by then. Also helping was coproducer Danielle Warman. The band made the album at New York’s Chiller Sound and brought in a horn section and added some strings. They financed the album partly through a Pledge Music campaign and they were in the forefront of that movement. It gave a further proof of the bond with their fans, who by this time were making them a club favorite. The album included the gems “Along for the Ride” (for which a live video was made on a friend’s boat in Salem harbor) and “When I Fall Down,” featuring a video shot at a gig on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.
The making of this third record wasn’t easy, but illustrates the fortitude of the Ross Livermore Band. “It seemed like some cosmic forces didn’t want us to make it,” says Dumas. “There was a snowstorm one time when we were going to New York to do it — and it took 8 to 10 hours to get there (a normal trip from Boston should take four). “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.” The band also hit another couple of snowstorms on further trips, but they eventually turned that bad luck into a great record.
Right now, it appears that nothing can stop the band. Livermore has improved his songwriting by taking the opportunity to study in Nashville with hit singer-songwriter Darrell Scott. “I had heard him on Pandora and his voice spoke to me,” says Ross. “His big thing was to say that our job as songwriters is just to tell the truth.” Ross and his mates have been telling and singing the truth for a while now. The time has come for the rest of the nation to listen.
- STEVE MORSE, former staff critic at the Boston Globe for 28 years who now teaches an online course in Rock History at Berklee College of Music. He also served a seven-year term on the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame