CD review by Roger-Z (02/14/09)
Appeared in More Sugar, March 2009, P. 15B
What does it take to make a successful cover band? I witnessed the exact ingredients the other night at
Pete's Saloon in Elmsford, New York. Andrea and The Armenian Rug Riders
hit the stage at 10:30 PM and wowed the audience from start to finish. First, stick a statuesque, well dressed,
raven-haired beauty up front who sings in a deep, rich, effortless alto, makes eye contact, fully engages the audience,
doesn't take herself too seriously, and incorporates funny faces and giant arm movements. Mix in the band's uncanny ability
to play hard rock softly, play one song into the next, and get people on the dance floor. Pick a catchy name.
Throw in a diverse and unique song selection, and finally, add in the ingredient which enraptures club owners -- a large following!
The group consists of Andrea Ekizian (lead vocals, guitar), John Scavelli (lead guitar), John Yates (bass, vocals) and Brett
(drums). Beginning with the first tune, Blondie's "One Way or Another," fans flooded the dance floor. The band covered a broad
mix of tunes by both male and female vocalists. Highlights included a stunning "Venus," by Swedish
pop group, Shocking Blue, with Andrea shining on the surreal, wordless, vocal hook; the bouncy "Stuck In the Middle with You"
by Steeler's Wheel; a ferocious "The Way I Do" by Melissa Etheridge; the aggressive "Mystery Achievement" by The Pretenders
driven by the rock hard bass and deep background vocals of bassist John Yates; a perky "Brass in Pocket" by the same band;
the surprising Led Zeppelin covers, "Living, Loving Maid" and "Good Times, Bad Times"; and the ever campy closer,
"I Touch Myself" by one hit wonder, The Divinyls.
The veteran Rug Riders musicians put on a tight, well thought-out show. I especially enjoyed how Andrea literally
turned the front of the stage into her home by surrounding herself with two guitar stands and a combination tambourine
and beer holder. New addition to the group, drummer Brett, kept things tight, and on rare occasion, broke out
in astounding fills. Bassist John Yates stood tall as a mountain and gave that same solidity to the band.
Guitarist John Scavelli unleashed vicious, tightly-wound leads exactly when called for. Lead singer Andrea Ekizian
grabbed the audience by the scruff of its neck and never let go.
Frankly, I don't understand why the pop world always focuses on the next fresh face right out of high school.
The industry ought to pick up on groups like Andrea & The Armenian Rug Riders who have honed their craft to a
diamond sharp perfection on the local club circuit.