Erie’s Own Soul of Motown

By Jenna Croyle

When you hear the phrase “The Soul Of Motown”, you may think of popular artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles or even the very popular stage show, “The Soul Of Motown.”

In 2007, the concept of the Soul of Motown show was developed and has since toured, not only the county, but the world as well, filling theaters with enthusiastic fans who love the Motown sound, just waiting to relive the greats of yesterday and swing and sing along with the dynamic show.

Erie may not have James Brown, but whenever this week’s featured band, Crosstown Rhythm & Blues takes the stage, that true Motown sound hits you like a freight train.

Crosstown Rhythm & Blues was started way back in the 70’s, but still has two of its founding members, Bill DiPlacido and Dick Buckel along with the songs and the sound of that old-fashioned soul and rhythm and blues music that made Motown great.

With exceptional talent and close attention to quality of music, Crosstown Rhythm & Blues has entertained literally thousands of fans over the years. As bands come and go, this band has more than weathered the storms that the music business can pummel upon you, like a fine wine, they have gotten much more refined and certainly remain a powerhouse of a band, as they are the finest Motown review in the land.

Crosstown Rhythm & Blues is a seven piece band that include members Bill DiPlacido on Trumpet, Dick Buckel on Guitar, Mike Kedzior on Saxophone, Joe Salorino on Percussion, Paul Grenberg on Bass and Paula Holmes on Vocals along with perhaps the most charismatic lead singer to ever hit an Erie stage, Roy Hollis Jr on Vocals.

Roy Hollis Jr is a true entertainer in every sense of the word. To say the least, it’s inspiring watching his performances, whether he is dazzling you with his smooth and sexy voice or his magnetic and captivating stage presence as he moves through the audience drawing all who watch and listen into every word and movement as though he were performing the song just for you. Hollis is truly the most energetic and enchanting local musical stage artist I have seen in Erie to date.

Among the many accolades Hollis has earned is 2009, 2010 and 2011 winner of the Duet Talent Quest National Karaoke Singing Contest and has been a featured judge of the famed Erie Idol Karaoke Competition and has performed in many Karaoke nights around town, particularly at Hunter Jack’s in Girard Pa. Hollis alone is worth the price of admission to see Crosstown Rhythm & Blues.

The voice and style of Paula Holmes is, without doubt, keeping the legacy of R&B alive in Erie. Holmes’s raw emotionalism and vocal power and slick delivery enhances the overall experience of this band as Holmes charms her way into the audiences hearts.

The horn section lead by Mike Kedzior and Bill DiPlacido add a unique sound to the band unlike that of any other in town. Their distinctive approach to driving riffs and musical creativity is a constant source of listening pleasure and excitement for their audiences.

Paul Grenberg provides such a strong presence in the music, while never being overstated, his bass lines could arguably be considered the best in Erie, giving the band an overall presence that rivals the bands who have played Erie, even many of those who have performed at the Warner Theatre and the Civic Center.

The finger work of Dick Buckel definitely shows that his talent is a level above most others, putting him at the heart of an elite, small cadre group of local musicians who overwhelm us with each note they play.

Joe Salorino is an innovative Percussion artist that truly rounds out the total sound of Crosstown Rhythm & Blues. Salorino’s chops have distinguishing elements combining classic R&B, soul, jazz, and even a hint of rock, all with a contemporary feel. Joe Salorino is definitely beats above the rest.

Though they don’t play out much, Crosstown Rhythm & Blues is very tight, very in sync with each other and above all else, Erie’s R&B Kings.

With a multi-cultural combo of cross generational music, Crosstown Rhythm & Blues is the most energetic, talented, get you up and moving, won’t stop till you can’t rock no more band on the scene today.

If you’re into Motown, hot sounds with cool grooves, sweet inspirations or just the best damn night out, check out Crosstown Rhythm & Blues.

For more information on Crosstown Rhythm & Blues and their show dates, please visit their Facebook page.