by Ryan Cox `18
The Mac Odom Band brought down the house last Saturday night in McPhail’s for four hours, performing a medley of funk, R&B, and soul for the Providence College student body.
The locally-based band featured two members of the PC community: Jeff DiIorio ’17 on guitar, and Pat Nigro ’15 on saxophone. The band was missing some of their usual members, especially in the horn section, so the night featured Nigro, Mac Odom on vocals, and a rhythm section.
Because of the men’s hockey game that night, there was a small crowd at the beginning, but it got livelier as it went on. Despite the small crowd, the band gave an energetic performance anyway, featuring songs by Stevie Wonder and James Brown.
It is immediately obvious that the band’s musicians have great chemistry. “Being a healthy member of a tight band has as much to do with personality as it does musicianship,” DiIorio said in an interview. “If the band isn’t together on that personal level of relationship then the whole overall sound can suffer.”
DiIorio met Odom in 2014 when Odom performed with the Providence College Funk Band, of which DiIorio is a member. He started playing regularly with the band in March. The band is made up of extremely high-caliber musicians and playing with them has been a rewarding experience for DiIorio. “Once you play with musicians that are better than you, your standards immediately get raised because you have to keep up in a way,” he said.
DiIorio’s guitar playing is, as always, incredible. He plays naturally, effortlessly, and it is obvious that he feels the music as he performs. Nigro’s powerhouse, almost brassy, sax is exactly the kind of sound that a funk band needs. Nigro’s playing sounds like it comes straight from a James Brown record.
The rest of the rhythm section—Dave Buda on bass, Paul Bouley on keyboard, and Vinny Pagano on drums—sound like a recording, showing their years of professional experience. Odom, the lead vocalist, has no limits to his ability. He has a huge vocal range and adapts to every style. His smooth, powerful tenor is soulful and floats along the melody, fitting the styles perfectly.
The high-energy performance made it hard not to tap your foot along with the band or get up and dance, and by the end of the night, nearly everybody was on their feet. For one song, Odom called up music education major Tiernan Chase ’18 to sing Etta James’ “At Last” with the band. A classically-trained vocalist with an interest also in jazz, Chase sang with confidence and power.
“It was great to sing with a professional band, and for it to be a spur of the moment performance. I think it was really special,” Chase said. “The only way to learn to sing jazz is by experience, and this was a great way for me to learn and try out a new style of singing that I didn’t know I could do.”
The Mac Odom Band plays regularly at the 133 Club in East Providence on Thursday nights (21+, no cover), and at other venues throughout Rhode Island. You can follow the band on Odom’s Facebook page.