Wednesday, June 15, 2016

TMR Zoo Reviews UNCONDITIONAL LOVE by Gary Santarella and Ditto

Gary Santarella and Roger Kimball are veterans of the New England area music scene, and on Saturday, May 21 they brought their five piece ensemble to the Village Tavern in Slame, where they usually perform as a duo every Saturday from 4 – 7 pm.    

Playing their dizzying array of covers – Santarella goes from the Rolling Stones to Neil Young/America and beyond. He embraces everything Beatles (both Lennon and McCartney, as schoolmate Brad Delp of the group Boston did for so many years) and James Taylor – which – if you close your eyes – sounds exactly like James Taylor.

The five piece Ditto band, which is what they are called as opposed to the Ditto duo or duo of Ditto, had the place rocking, and the focus was on the new CD, Unconditional Love.   “Don’t Kick Me When I’m Down,” perhaps the best known of Gary Santarella’s originals having received lots of 50,000 watt airplay in 1986 and heard by many a record executive, to “Rocky” – an irresistible song about a beloved doggy, where the album’s title was drawn from, to “Daddy-O” and what is shaping up to be a regional hit, “Punta Cana.”

“Punta Cana” has all the elements.  Think the vibraphone and joy from Elton John’s “Island Girl” with the fun of “Margaritaville,” but without Jimmy Buffett’s intentional frivolity.  “Punta Cana” is serious, melodic, and the audience responded to it.  Great party which they will hopefully replicate in the Boston area, the group mostly touring on the north shore and the Cape Ann area these days.

Ethan Harley reviews Unconditional Love by Gary Santarella

Here's a review by Ethan Hartley of Gary Santarella's new CD "Unconditional Love"

By Ethan Hartley

Posted May. 21, 2016 at 8:27 AM

Longtime Danvers resident Gary Santarella, 65, has been playing music professionally since he was 18. From 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, he’ll be celebrating the release of his first original album at the Village Tavern in Salem.
“Unconditional Love” is a six-track album, recorded at Mixed Emotion Studio in Middleton, which features 12 different musicians, a slew of harmonizing instruments and borrows inspiration from some of the most legendary acts in music history.
“As far as everybody that got to play on the CD and performed on it, they all brought their A-game to it,” said Santarella. “I couldn’t ask for any better musicians to play on a CD.”
Some of the musicians, like keyboardist Clifford Carter, have decorated careers of their own. Carter has played with James Taylor and Art Garfunkel, and recently worked as the musical director for Idena Menzel’s tour last year. Guitarist Peter Calo, a friend and colleague of the album’s producer, Roger Kimball, has worked with both Carly Simon and Linda Eder.
A smattering of local musical talents were included in the album as well, including Steve Sadler and Jim Collins on electric guitar, Jim Lattini on drums, Ricardo Monzon on Latin percussion, Rich Greenblatt on marimba and Ashley Johnson on backup vocals.
The album was a product of about three years of work from the musicians, and started from Santarella’s desire to nail down some of the songs he had been singing for years.
“I told [Roger Kimball] I have a lot of songs and I’d like to get them down and get them recorded before I die,” joked Santarella.
Musically, the album has upbeat and fast-paced tracks such as the opening track, “Don’t Kick Me.” Acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies set a melancholic tone for tracks like “No Hard Feelings.” Others, like “Daddy’O,” inspired by Santarella’s daughter, have a distinct honky-tonk influence stemming partially from lead guitarist Bobby Stanton’s roots as an avid player of country music.
 Gary Santarella of Danvers, left, teamed up with producer Roger Kimbell to record his first CD, "Unconditional Love." Courtesy photo

The result is a cohesive, groovy album with toe-tapping rhythm and satisfying vocal and instrumental harmony. The production quality is fantastic, which Santarella credited sound engineers Ken Lewis and Jim Brick for.
“I think it’s cohesive but there’s something there for everybody. It’s not all one solid style,” said Kimball. “It’s a good team. [Gary] has a lot of talent and he had a lot to do with the production too. He’s got great ideas.”


  • Gary Santarella of Danvers, left, teamed up with producer Roger Kimbell to record his first CD, "Unconditional Love." Courtesy photoThe cover of Gary Santarella's new CD, "Unconditional Love."

  • Page 2 of 2 - “It’s a great accomplishment and it’s a great feeling knowing that you can actually put all these ideas down and have them all recorded,” Santarella said of the finished product. “Such a blend of harmonies and instruments and musicians, it’s just such a nice feeling.”
    Santarella gave special thanks to Kimball for all his help and support putting the album together. The duo also performs in a five-piece band, “Ditto.” All of their song covers and the songs from Unconditional Love can be heard on their website at

    The cover of Gary Santarella's new CD, "Unconditional Love."   TMR ZOO REVIEWS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE