Set 'Em Up Joe
In their shows and music, Daddy-o recording artists Set ‘Em Up Joe, led by frontman Greg Mangus and guitarist Mark Cally, is the embodiment of wild good times. But their raucous, often outrageous live performances, as entertaining as they are, are only a hint of the magic they create in their songs. In their electricity and elan, Set ‘Em Up Joe blurs the boundaries between Swing, Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues, and in the process creates a universal sound that’s as exciting to the suburban boppers as it is to the martini soaked swingers in Manhattan’s swankest nightspots.
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We’ll start with a guy that Entertainment Weekly called,"... a neo-hipster that entertains Martinesquely (as in Dino!)," singer Greg Mangus. Take a sip of Greg’s whiskey toned voice and you can taste vintage boogie like Wynonie Harris and hints of Rock & Roll a la Rod Stewart. He moved from the honky tonks of the south to the Big Apple in 1989 and received his first gold record for his songwriting contributions to Cameo’s "Machismo" LP shortly thereafter. For the next several years he served in the New York based funk outfit Fine Line. "I remember coming home from the punk firetrap, CBGB’s," Greg says, "and putting on ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ to relax....... I knew it was time for a change." He traded in his snakeskin pants for a sharkskin suit, formed Set ‘Em Up Joe and took it to the stage.
At the same time guitarist/ composer Mark Cally was making the Manhattan scene with his group, Groove Culture. Mark came to America in 1992, by way of Japan, from Australia, where he had played with such luminaries as Billy May, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Big Band. Upon his arrival mark made his .....well.....mark, by playing and writing for The Flying Neutrinos. In his breezy, tasty licks and ring-a-ding-ding arrangements one can hear the influences of George Benson, Scotty Moore and Wes Montgomery.
Mark and Greg decided to form a more rockin’ version of Set ‘Em Up Joe. The joined forces and debuted the new band at the beginning of 1998. Brian Floody (Drums), Matt Hughes (Bass) and Chris Creviston (Saxophone) completed the line-up.
Their live shows are fast becoming the stuff of rumors, legend and subpoenas, but if their self titled debut CD, due out in early 1999 on Daddy-O/Royalty, is any indication, it is their songwriting that will establish them as a force to be reckoned with. From the Tom Waits’ flavored New York City lament "Brooklyn Hearted" to the straight up swing of the hit "Zoot Suit" to the swingin’ bluesy "Let Me Cater Your Next Affair", Set ‘Em Up Joe promises to be the outstanding tunesmiths of the new revival of American popular music.
Here’s what some of the critics have had to say about the band and about their songs:
"The melodies of ‘I Want My Old Life Back’ create expectations of lyrics spoken by the classic P.I. describing a wet city and a surprise visit from a blonde dame" wrote Swingtime, "but, instead lay on the yearning for a previous existence. With it’s haunting muted trumpet and swinging soft-blues style, it works." Swingtime continues, "Jump, blues and even Rock are employed in pure form, like the powerhouse ‘Winsome Lose some’. Whether jiving the blues or giving passion to torch songs, (these songs) find their way into the feet of gents and the hearts of ladies."
The St. Petersburg Times called these songs: "...some of the sharpest, most swarm free music ever to come out of the new lounge era.... finely honed lyrics give (them) more depth than the busloads of high style/ low content hepsters swankifying the country. The slow grooving ‘I Want My Old Life Back’ is a good example......."
Mixmag wrote, "The vocals are strangely appealing in a Kid Creole sort of way." The Orlando Weekly hit it on the head when they said, "Set ‘Em Up Joe revels in swinging schizophrenia, broadcasting their original lounge sounds, from a forthcoming CD, while paying homage to their Rock & Roll past."
Between the two of them, Mark Cally and Greg Mangus have written songs for The Last Of the International Playboys, (Intercontinental), The Flying Neutrinos,(Universal), the HBO series "Sex in the City", and two upcoming major movie releases, ‘Three To Tango’ and ‘Blast From The Past’. They have also placed songs on the compilations "New York City Swing"(Lo-Fi), "Hipsters, Zoots and Wingtips: The 90’s Swingers" (Hip-O/MCA) and "Swing This Baby"(Slimstyle).
It should be plain to see that Set ‘Em Up Joe are hip (hep?) enough to ride the crest of the "nouveau-swing" craze, yet with enough craft to have hits on pop radio, AC and AAA(whatever the hell that is) long after it’s considered to be a faux-pas to be seen in two tone shoes. But don’t take our word for it, pour yourself a stiff one, dress up and head for the dance floor............the band is playing the soundtrack of your life......this is sauce and vinegar and eau de cologne and gin and smoke and perfume and silk and neon and tail fins and rockets to the sky....... this is........Set ‘Em Up Joe!
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