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Supergroup The Hollywood Allstars release debut EP ‘Field of Grace’

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Supergroup The Hollywood Allstars release debut EP ‘Field of Grace’ (Photo by Bill McMenamey

It’s never too late to see a dream realized. Grammy-nominated musician Steve Gaspár is living the dream he’s held in his heart for decades and he’s sharing it with a large band of world-class musicians bestowed with an appropriately grand moniker.

The Hollywood Allstars is a 13-piece rock and soul supergroup spearheaded by Gaspár that features the legendary Uptown Horns (Rolling Stones, James Brown, Joe Cocker) along with members from Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power and the Blues Brothers Band, among others.

The band’s debut EP “Field of Grace” showcases four original songs and a timely cover of a James Brown classic.

In a live setting, The Hollywood Allstars put their own spin on a wide-ranging set of classics featuring the original musicians.

Steve Gaspár has been playing music since he was a toddler. A former Epic/CBS recording artist, the keyboardist and producer has recorded and/or performed with James Brown, B.B. King, and members of KISS and The Rascals but says he’s always gravitated toward the sound of a big band.

“I’ve always loved the sound of a live horn section with a Hammond organ; a big-sounding band like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Chicago or Tower of Power,” Gaspár enthused during an interview with The Maine Edge.

With an ear toward realizing that notion, Gaspár began assembling his dream team by calling in favors from musicians he’d known and performed with over the years.

Among them were vocalists Tommy Bowes (Tower of Power; Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Chevy Chavis (Beyonce, Madonna, Adele), guitarist Andy Abel (Talking Heads), bassist Scott Spray (Johnny and Edgar Winter bands) drummer Lee Finkelstein (original Blues Brothers Band), percussionist Eddie Torres (Vicki Sue Robinson band) and The Uptown Horns (Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, James Brown).

The Hollywood Allstars played a number of shows before Covid put a halt to live gatherings.

With nothing but time on his hands at the height of the pandemic, Gaspár began composing original songs for The Hollywood Allstars.

“I realized that if we wanted to take this to the next level, we needed our own material,” he said.

The new EP’s title track, “Field of Grace,” is a rocking slice of soul sung by Tommy Bowes and featuring The Uptown Horns on a track that sounds like it was meant for the stage.

When Steve played an early version of the song for the horn players, saxophonist Crispin Cioe offered up a bluesy group original with “Trust Me.” Chevy Chevis takes the lead on a song that had been previously demoed by Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band.

Gaspár collaborated with songwriter Frank Viele on the moving gospel-tinged ballad “The River,” a track Steve says is probably his favorite on the EP.

Gaspár teamed up with Gary Alton for the tongue in cheek “What Good Is Your Body (If You Ain’t Got No Soul),” which Steve describes as a “a commentary on all of the nips and tucks of plastic surgery that people put themselves through these days.”

The EPs sole cover is a super-funky take on the James Brown classic “Living in America,” a song that was meant to be included in this collection.

After the first four songs had been recorded, Gaspár began promoting them on social media when he received a message out of the blue from songwriter Charlie Midnight (Joe Cocker, Cher, Joni Mitchell) suggesting The Hollywood Allstars update his song (written with the late Dan Hartman) that hit the top 5 for James Brown in 1986.

Gaspár brought legendary bassist Will Lee (David Letterman’s bands, Steely Dan, Diana Ross) together with drummer Tony Citron (Joe Bonamassa, Ricky Martin) and The Uptown Horns to update the vibe of the song that had been a highlight of the “Rocky IV” soundtrack.

The result is a super-funky but faithful version of one of the 1980s best dance songs featuring the same horn section that brought so much life to the original. Gaspár believes the song’s message may be even more timely today.

“With what’s going on with our country politically and economically, what better time to remind people that this is still the greatest country in the world?” Gaspár said.

When the recording was finished Gaspár set out to partner with a label to make the music available. Upon the suggestion of a friend, he sent it to the folks at Deko Entertainment, an indie label with global distribution for classic rockers including John Entwistle, Vanilla Fudge and Ten Years After, 80s pop star Tiffany, and others.

Gaspár received a call from the label president saying he loved the music and wanted to release it.

“Most record companies won’t touch you unless you pretty much have the whole machine up and running yourself before they come along,” Gaspár said. “This label listened to the music and got excited about it which harkens back to the old days when somebody heard a great song and said ‘This is a great artist, let’s do something.’

Gaspár points to his label’s motto: “Art has value” as evidence that The Hollywood Allstars have found the right home.

“As artists, we recognize the value of art. It’s so refreshing and unexpected today to find a record label that feels the same way. I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I can tell you that it’s never too late to have a dream come true.”

(Connect with the band at www.TheHollywoodAllstars.net.)

Last modified on Monday, 19 September 2022 08:07

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