Sun, 12/23/2012 - 4:35 am

DeadPhish Orchestra, yea, it’s exactly what it sounds like. If you’ve never heard of them and aren’t attracted by the name immediately don’t dismiss them quite so soon, because they probably have something your craving. Whether its complex jams topped with screaming guitar climaxes or the simple tunes that everyone can enjoy, DPO can and will provide the best of both worlds. DPO is comprised of Chris Sheldon on drums/vocals, Paul Murin on guitar/vocals, Brian Adams on bass/vocals, and Ted Tilton on keys/vocals.

The show being reviewed was 12/21/2012, (the end of the world) at the Fox Theater in Boulder, CO. DPO opened for local group, Hot Soup, led by guitarist Matt Flaherty. Unfortunately sickness prevented me from staying through Hot Soup’s set (although I caught their perfect rendition of The Final Countdown by the band, Europe). DPO took the stage in the practically vacant Fox Theater and slapped the small audience awake with a Down With Disease opener, which led to an Estimated Prophet via an extended disease jam that highlighted the bands stable flow. Moving effortlessly from major to minor in unison and filling empty space like it’s their job, the band funked out the end of Estimated Prophet, which transitioned smoothly into a very well executed 2001. DPO ended this four song run which they called “Down With Cumberland’s 2001 Prophet” with an interesting transition into Cumberland Blues that really changed the pace.

Happy 21st, Matt!

Other highlights of the show include when DPO invited Matt Flaherty of Hot Soup to join them on stage for a few songs on a count of it being Flaherty’s 21'st birthday. With Flaherty on board, the group set off on a three-song run they would later name, “Feel Like A Sanity Cat”. This began with a flawless and beautifully performed China Cat that slipped into a cheerful version of Sanity. By this time the crowd had grown five times its original size and was picking up a lot of momentum. From Sanity, the group dove into Feel Like A Stranger where keys player, Ted Tilton really showed off his Weir-like voice and energy. Next, Flaherty breaks into a ripping solo then turns around to duel up with bassist, Brian Adams. Matching rhythm, Adams and Flaherty laid a solid foundation for DPO guitarist, Paul Murin to lay down an incredibly funky closing solo that would end that particular run of songs.

Another terrific run was, “Divided Dew” which, as you can probably guess, was Divided Sky and Morning Dew. The group (including Flaherty) began with Divided Sky where bassist, Brian Adams really shined in the role of Mike Gordon. One of the most impressive segments of the night was when the group as a whole absolutely killed the tension building, “circus part” of Divided Sky, then Flaherty and Murin matched rhythm guitar parts in an “Allman Brothers (Jessica)” fashion that was incredibly pivotal and fun to watch. Flaherty’s solo in this song was his best of the set. Effortlessly keeping the energy at a maximum level, Flaherty continued to make many interesting and sometimes daring improvisations that were welcomed by the band and audience alike.

Later in the night, when Flaherty had left the stage, DPO launched into an enthusiastic Possum that contained a Lowrider tease, as well as a Simpsons tease, which the crowd responded to appropriately by screaming, “Doh!” The show concluded with an epic Harry Hood where Adams did a brilliant job of dropping those heavy bass bombs. The highlight of the song was at the end when the band normally sings together, “Feelin good, good, good about hood”, however this time they replaced these lyrics with the chorus from R.E.M.’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, hinting at the Mayan-predicted apocalypse.

In conclusion, if you understood half of the things said in this review and you still haven’t seen DeadPhish Orchestra, you should absolutely check them out. Get an $8 ticket the next time you see them pop up on your local theater bill, and enjoy this incredibly talented, modernized hybrid of your two favorite bands, you wont be disappointed!

Check out more photos from the show.

Sun, 01/27/2013 - 4:36 am

Grateful Web’s Evan Marks recently had a chance to catch up with some of the guys from Denver-based, The Motet. The Motet were playing a couple of shows to help celebrate Cervantes’ 10th Anniversary. The guys talked about their origins, influences, Jam Cruise and some of their favorite Motet shows thus far.

GW: Whoever has the most interesting story of how you found your way into the motet I’d like to hear it

Jans: That might be me. Well originally I knew Scott Messersmith the original percussionist of the Motet, and we actually studied West African music together. We both decided at the same time to go to Cuba to study Afro Cuban Folklore music, and on that trip to Cuba, he also brought along Dave Watts with him (Motet Drummer) and they were just forming a band called the Dave Watts Motet. Yeah, I met him there, I bought a guitar there and played him a bunch of original songs that I had done and when I got back from that trip they invited me to come join the band. So, I moved out from Oregon to Colorado and that was in the summer of 99'.

GW: I have read a little bit about you (Jans) as well as Dave, so I would like to ask the horns players this question, "what are some of your main influences?”

Matt: I come from a jazz background, for sure. Until I joined the Motet that was kind of my main bag, so all those guys, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley. As far as having gotten into the jazz-funk scene I guess honestly the old sax player (of the Motet) who is here tonight, Dominic Lalli was a big influence, listening to his recordings and how he would you know, mold melodies and work with motives and stuff to make these long jam sections interesting and really developed. [Also] Some of the guys from Lettuce, Ryan Zoidis, he's really funky, I enjoy his playing and I've learned a lot from listening to him, playing with him.

Gabe: I came from a pretty musical family, my Mom's a singer and my Dad's a pianist and they were heavy into classical music, and that was my upbringing. Kind of similar to Matt, I was really into jazz, mainly just in to music you know? At a young age I realized I wanted to be a freelance musician or whatever that means exactly. Which basically means you study all genres, you don't close any doors, you want every door to be open so that when there's an availability like in this band, they had an opening for a trumpet player and I was fortunate enough to have worked with some of these musicians before. Studying freelance means being ready for a classical gig, or a jazz gig, or a funk gig, whatever that might entail. So influences for me vary all the time because its who I might be working with or what projects I'm doing I am studying that music.

GW: What was the transition like from classical to jazz music?

Gabe: For a while, yeah it was hard because I did grow up playing legit and then the whole concept of improvising music you have to let go. . . you have to be willing to sound bad for a while, because I did. I studied classical for a long time and it was like you go home, you practice it, and you sound good, but improvisation is this thing where there’s so many variables, you got a rhythm section behind you, what are they doing? How do you interact with the musicians around you? And yeah, you gotta sound bad. There's a letting of that ego thing that starts to happen then hopefully you learn from that. It's just like anything else, it's a language like learning to speak French or whatever, you learn bits and pieces and then after you become a conversationalist you can kind of speak in music in time with other people. It's super intimidating for a while but just stick it out, keep doing it.

GW: What is it like for you (Jans) to live in Portland and try to stay connected and communicating with the rest of the band in Colorado?

Jans: Well it takes a great amount of organization to make things happen and I think that's kind of the foundation of the band right now, staying organized so that we can actually do these big gigs on very few rehearsals.

GW: Open question to all of you, what was your favorite Halloween show you have played with the Motet?

Jans: Yeah, wow that's a tuff one. I mean just like anything it's like the latest one always seems like the most fun. The Earth Wind and Fire one was really special for me, partially because we put in so much time in the vocals section and I got bring in kind of my bros from Oregon to sing with us. But just spending that much time on the music and really getting inside some really difficult music, but they all were so great. Funk Is Dead was really fun because the music was such a celebration, you know people were so stoked and plus we got to put our own thing on it which was the first time we really did that. Then this last one was just so huge, so many people and such huge crowds, you know two nights of the Ogden sold out I mean that's dream come true kind of stuff.

Ryan: I'd say my favorite was Funk Is Dead, having been one of the band members that actually loved the Dead. So of all of them, my first Halloween with the Motet was Michael Jackson, which was amazing. Every one was great and that's thing about the Halloween shows like Jans was saying, we really just completely immerse ourselves in an artist, learn every single part note for note. So, we're just completely internalizing another player, whoever our role is in the band, so whoever Madonna’s guitarist was when we did Madonna.

GW: You guys did Madonna?

Ryan: [laughs] Yeah we thought it would be funnier than it was, like we thought the joke would go over a little more. Every Halloween is a learning experience. For me, Funk Is Dead, I was like getting choked up on stage. Those lyrics really resonate with me and people who really love the dead, then hearing them and being able to play them, you know there’s sixteen hundred people singing every lyric back at you. I get goose bumps thinking about it, that was by far my favorite one, it was pretty magical.

Gabe: I'm kind of similar to Jans; I think they're all unique and special in their own way. There are gigs that I do that are musically rewarding for me and there are gigs that I do that are musically rewarding for an audience member and hopefully most of them tie in together. But yeah, the Funk Is Dead thing was unreal just because its like dude, everyone knew every word, and I was coming in fresh on that stuff I had really like not ever gotten into that music. So getting into it and watching people that are so dedicated to this music, tattoos, fuckin jewelry, fuckin everything dude! But I gotta say too as a horn player man, that Earth Wind and Fire shit presented a huge technical challenge and I had a blast on that one because I got to put together a lot of the charts for it, for the other horns players, because we had ringers come in. The guy who teaches trumpet at Denver University came and played lead trumpet for that and he is one of my former teachers so it was an honor to get to play with him.

GW: What was it like to work with Nigel Hall this past Halloween show?

Ryan: Hilarious. His energy is just wild. Just being around him you just kind of like absorb it. He just has a way to rock a crowd. Besides an artist's skill level and musicality, the guy is just a born performer. He just takes the whole room and encapsulates it, they are all his, he's got you. It's amazing watching someone like that do their thing that he's just so great at. But his playing and his singing too, the whole thing is just like overwhelming. It's like oh he's crushing that! Now he's singing, with like the best voice I’ve ever heard and then his energy on top of that is really inspiring.

[Joey Porter walks in the room]

Jans: Joey, you're just in time!

Joey: For what, the sex orgy?

Jans: Not with this crew

Joey: Good. Because I was like, this is pretty uncool guys.

Ryan: Joey do you want to comment on what it was like to work with Nigel?

Joey: Oh Nigel is the greatest man, such a natural talent. His shit is just like. . . It just happens; he doesn't think about it, he just IS music. Its cool to be around other people who are genuinely excited about music. He's not really in it for all the glory like everybody talkin about him and being under the lights, he would just do that, even if he didn't make any money he would still do it.

GW: Is getting bigger or breaking through to another level of popularity something that you guys think about? Is it on your mind ever?

[Jans laughs]

Jans: That’s very funny that you say that!

Ryan: Of course. The band has had so many changes throughout the years that it sort of became something that we would just let it happen and it was just a gig-by-gig basis. We weren't really thinking about building momentum or things like that. There were points in the Motet's lifespan where some things started gaining momentum and then something would happen, you know line up change or whatever. All it really took was a consistent lineup and we started working more just because we enjoyed it and then it just started coming back immediately. We would put a little bit more work in for a few months and then the next few months, numbers would go up and we were like oh this is great! We're more excited about it than ever, we are excited to get into the rehearsal place. We have been rehearsing a lot. We work a lot at this band. But it’s really exciting to go home and practice new parts. We're working on a new record, so definitely excited about that, it’s been a while. So, you can't really help but not think about it because we just want to keep growing and having people hear our music. Obviously we're not trying to be famous or else we probably wouldn't be playing funk music [room laughs]. But you know, we want to rock shows, and we wanna make people dance.

Joey: I think we're definitely not trying to write songs to cater to anyone but ourselves, but I think we definitely want people to like it of course.

Jans: I think we are starting to get clear about what’s next for us, and there is definitely a next and we're pretty stoked to get there.

GW: Are you guys gonna get in the studio anytime soon?

Joey: Yeah, in fact we have studio time booked next week, but it takes a long time to make a record, you gotta do the tracking, then mixing, then editing and mastering and all that stuff. We're hoping to have it out by like late summer.

GW: Is it gonna sort of follow Dig Deep?

Jans: No.

GW: Less electronic then?

Jans: Yes.

Ryan: It's going to be reflective of the live show which is just funk. It's gonna be a funk record, we've got some great tunes. I think there’s some really nice hooks and stuff like that.

Joey: Yeah, Dig Deep is more like a Dave Watts production that we all had something to do with but we didn't do anything but do the playing. This is actually like a cohesive album of new songs that we all wrote together.

Jans: Yeah, like we got together, we jammed on ideas. People would bring in a seed of an idea and we would grow it and out of those came writing horn lines, writing melodies, and writing vocal stuff. So, yeah like he said, it’s going to be really reflective of what you hear live at our shows.

Ryan: We have been road-testing four of our new tunes. We premiered them at our new years gig and played them on Jam Cruise as well.

GW: Just generally before we run out of time, how was Jam Cruise?

[Smiles appear on everyone's faces]

Ryan: Fucking crazy

Joey: I'm not mad at it

Jans: Ridiculous

GW: Last question. Every show of yall's I have attended has been a raging party; do you ever miss a quieter scene?

Jans: I think the motet is about throwing really great parties, and I think that is a part of who the Motet is. So, if we want quieter music and that other stuff, we book ourselves those other gigs to play nice quiet music.

Joey: Yeah, when I get old I’ll play jazz…No I won't

Jans: When it's a Motet gig, it's a party.

Sun, 01/27/2013 - 6:52 am

On a mild January Friday night in Boulder, my photographer, Harvdog and I decided to skip the usual CU ragefest and check out Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue performing the "Best Of Winterland" at our local Boulder Theater. Comprised of Jim Allard (Coral Creek Band, American Beauty, One Kind Favor, Shakedown Street) on Bass and Vocals, Rob Eaton (Dark Star Orchestra, American Beauty) on Rhythm Guitar and Vocals, Dave Kochmann (Shakedown Street, American Beauty) Lead Guitar and Vocals, and Jake Wolf (Shakedown Street, One Kind Favor) on Drums, Percussion, and Vocals, RMGD is loaded with many unique talents who love to play the music of The Dead, and just happen to be experts at it as well. The theater was arranged differently than we were used to, with many tables and seats indicating the expectance of an older crowd. Behind the stage hung three brightly colored tapestries that would come into play later in the night. We arrived early and watched as one by one the theater filled up with young dreaded dudes and older refined deadheads. I would like to take this moment to say thank you to the guy who helped me with some song titles and shared the show with me. I am no Dead scholar, in fact I'm just some 19 year old kid who loves the music, but I will do my best to give an accurate description of what went down that night.

Rob Eaton

The band came on at around 9:30 to an eager crowd, and instantly satisfied them with a Shakedown Street. The crowd's energy rose to an early high as we got a huge dose of guitarist, Dave Kochmann's perfectly tuned in envelope ("Wah" Jerry sound) bouncing off of Eaton's rhythmic funk chords, a technique the expertly applied throughout the rest of the night. A beautifully executed Jack Straw propelled the crowd into a frenzy of song which was followed by Ramble On Rose, that was sweetened by Eaton's masterful use of small bends for fills, and ended with tremendous energy. Another honorable mention was a particularly funky Me and My Uncle where drummer, Jake Wolf displayed some exceptional technical drumming in the form of complex symbol hits during Kochmann's rambly solo. Wolf also killed it in the set ender, Not Fade Away, which featured a super smooth quiet breakdown that slipped into Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, where Kochmann showed some more technical chops with rapidly ascending scales and pivotal climaxes. The song eventually broke back into Not Fade Away with a bang. The first set concluded and the band strolled off the stage, leaving a fired up crowd in their wake.

Second set opener relieved the crowd of a long anticipated China Cat Sunflower, I Know Your Rider that featured some prime guitar from both Kochmann and Eaton. The highlight of the set was a long jammed out Eyes of the World, in which Wolf took out some sort of African Talking Drum that he successfully implemented into his fierce tom rolls. Eaton's slow backwards strumming created an illusion of waves passing over, especially to those members of the audience spinning in little circles. During the jam towards the end of the song, Bassist Jim Allard finally got to showcase some of his technical abilities as well, playing high up on the neck over a hushed band, he created some interesting textures that had yet to be heard in the show. The song also featured a jam that I was not familiar with called Milking the Turkey that led into Wolf's intense drum solo which was continually cheered on. Later on after the epic Eyes, the band gave a moving performance of China Doll, another first time song for me which I immediately fell in love with. The night concluded with a classic Casey Jones encore lead by Allard that was much appreciated by the crowd.

For someone who is just breaking through the surface of the colossal mass of music that is the Grateful Dead, I was still more than able to appreciate the show and not feel like an outsider. The feeling of community in that theater, and those shows is not something I get to experience very often, and I cherish it.

Check out more photos from the show.

Mon, 01/28/2013 - 2:09 pm

I’ve said it so many times to so many different people, “go see the Motet”. I tell my jam friends, my womp friends, and even my white rapper friends, “go see the damn Motet”.  Anybody that has ever listened to me has been completely blown away. Most people have just never had that much funk in their face before, so it’s understandable when they complain about a neck pain the next morning. I could go on and on describing them, but simply put, the Motet is an extraordinarily talented super group comprised of people you don’t know about, but really should.

The band, who’s lineup is subject to change without notice, strolled onto the stage as an eight piece ensemble with their special guest of night, original saxophonist of the Motet-turned electronica sensation, Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic to face an anxiously hot, sold out crowd fresh off the perfect opener for the Motet, AfroZep, a mix of African music and Led Zeppelin. This being my first time at Cervantes, I was very impressed. What doesn’t look like much from the outside opens up to a huge smoky ballroom with a few extensive bars and a decently large stage, over which hung tarps in triangular shapes that would receive perfectly projected lights throughout the show.

A Funny Bone opener slammed the door right open with a sound I have come to know as the iconic Motet groove: the funkiest walking bass you have ever heard via Garrett Sayers layered over Dave Watts’ tight snare beat and Ryan Jalbert’s crucial funk chords, finished off with Joey Porter’s, “wah” clavinet and some composed horns that fit ever so nicely in the mix, complimenting the groove and giving accents to certain sections of the songs, all the while percussionist, Jans Ingber can be heard keeping along with Watts and adding yet another layer to the thickness. A synth-heavy Porter solo led into an intense sax solo from Lalli with an over top the climax that had the whole band smiling and the room absolutely losing their shit. Another huge first jam was Drop It In The Slot by Tower Of Power that included a super funky three-way breakdown of horns as well as a rockin’ Jalbert guitar solo that started out rhythmic and tame then exploded into some screaming wah. As Ingber dances wildly around a small portion of the stage, his voice rings out like an owl’s, “whoo”. He bends down to the front of the stage to emphasize some lyric, and you can see that crazy look in his eyes that lets you know, this shit can’t just come from anyone.

Another first set highlight was one of their new songs that they have been, “road-testing” since their new years gigs, Dance, Music Sex, Romance. This composition of hard hitting, gut busting funk topped with the ever so catchy hook of DMSR was received incredibly well by the crowd. During this jam, saxyphone player, Matt Pitts got some well deserved solo time in which he managed to construct a complex house of sound, then proceeded to blow the roof off at the end. A solo from Sayers reminds the ballroom that every single member of this band is incredibly virtuous. When Sayers runs his fingers all the way up the neck of his five string bass then slides the last two notes, people cringe, babies cry, and I have to go check my pants in the bathroom. This would conclude the funk-filled, tightly packed first set.

I feel like I just have to mention this; the Motet’s set-beak DJ was spectacular. Who dances the entire 30 minute set-break? Everyone at a Motet show, that’s who. He successfully kept the energy high while the band prepared for yet another killer set. The tone of the second set was established with two P Funk songs, Gamin on Ya into Nappy Dugout, then shattered just moments later with the performance of a Big Gigantic song, Fantastic. Inbger announced that they had decided to perform this song just earlier that day which made it even more impressive. The tune began with some explosive hits that led into an electronica-like buildup during which, the bass nearly brought the roof down on top of us. Sayers matched the simple melody with Lalli while Watts went nuts in the back of the stage, showing his highest energy yet. A delay-heavy Jalbert solo fit right into the feel of the song, and once again, the crowd loses their minds.

An Afro Disco Beat that featured another ridiculous Lalli solo lead into, what in my opinion is one of the funkiest songs ever, Johnny Just Drop. JJD blessed the crowd with some excellent Ingber percussion and some intense drum fills from Watts, as well as a solo from Sayers where he practically only used chords. The jam lead into a reggae sort of groove where Ingber scatted along with the guitar and horns, and ended on a hit.

The second set ended with a two song run featuring a new original, Knock It Down that started with a really trippy intro that exploded back into the funk with some super complex horns parts, into an old original, Cheap Shit. The latter half of that run of songs allowed Porter a sweet funky solo down low on the clavinet and yet another explosive Lalli solo, finished off by the master of delay, Ryan Jalbert. It was 2:30am when the band appeared again before an ever eager crowd to conclude the night with a few song encore that ended with a fantastic rendition of Tower Of Power’s, What Is Hip that showcased each musicians’ talents one by one.

I left the building at three in the morning to soberly drive back to my home in Boulder with my photographer, Harvdog who was constantly falling asleep. We rode in silence as I struggled to calm my ringing ears and sore back until we finally arrived home. We looked at each other and let out a unanimous, “Fuck Yeah Dude”. This band, which has become one of my favorites over the last couple of years, is on fire. Expect another huge 4/20 show from them as well as a new studio album in the summer time. If you haven’t gotten to experience the feeling of being a part of this Colorado-Funk-Family, your priorities are out of line. Break your conventional weekend bullshit, sack up, and go rage the funk at the best party happening; the Motet Party.

Tue, 02/19/2013 - 8:44 am

For my first time at the Ogden in Denver, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the first bands that fueled my interest in funk music, Galactic. This five-piece New Orleans ensemble comprised of Jeff Raines (guitar), Robert Mercurio (bass), Richard Vogel (keys), Ben Ellman (sax, harmonica), and Stanton Moore (drums) took the stage at 10pm after the well received opener, Monophonics primed the crowd for some brass filled funk. With the addition of a regular sit in from trombone player, Corey “Boe Money” Henry, the band blasted into Karate, a hard hitting tune from their latest album, Carnivale Electricos, that does a great job of capturing the sound of a funky marching band. This first tune featured some small solo sections from each of the band members. Right off the bat, most notably was the superb connection between Ellman’s sax and Henry’s trombone, layering solos over each other without stepping on anyone’s toes, they immediately kicked the theater’s energy right in the ass. Next, the band brought out singer/hype man Corey Glover, of Living Colour who continued to sit in on many of the tunes for the rest of the night. Glover’s natural talent of capturing an audience and sustaining their energy can be compared to the eclectic Nigel Hall, however I’ve never heard Nigel hit some of those piercing highs!

After one of their more popular songs, Hey NANA, Glover stepped off the stage, and the band went into a snake-charmer-sounding groove called Balkan Wedding. This song started out with a bass and drum jam, then some well placed funk chords from Raines that got people dancing. Next, a brief horns layer accented the groove, which lead into the true middle eastern-sounding melody, where Raines and Vogel matched each other on every note. Vogel’s organ solo in this jam took the crowd on a journey through the desert and back. A little back and forth between the horns and guitar finished out the song with a bang. Next, the band launched into Cineramascope off of their record, Ya-Ka-May, that started with another bass/drums groove, in which Ellman’s droning sax resembled the sound of a Hindustani tambura, which Henry bounced off of accordingly. After the groove was established, Henry came charging out to the front of the stage wielding his trombone, and blew the lid off the joint with the highest energy solo yet that featured a little taste of the, “Outkast horns”. Another mentionable component from this jam was Vogel’s effective use of broken/percussive techniques on the organ.

Later in the set, the powerful tune, Heart Of Steel rallied the crowd into a soulful frenzy of song and dance. During this tune, we got a dose of Ellman’s wailing harmonica, which led the group into a dark keys/drums jam where the room watched as Moore made every cymbal on the extensive kit his bitch. The song climaxed with glover hollering in a frequency that only dogs can hear, then he stepped to the front of the stage and nodded to the crowd in a sort of, “Yea, that’s right bitches” attitude. Another huge crowd pleaser was From The Corner To The Block, where Henry displayed his impressive musicianship by switching back and forth between rapping and playing the trombone. When Henry summoned the crowd into a big, “fuck yea” chant, it seemed that Glover had some competition to see who was the best hype man. The set concluded with a particularly nasty bass solo from Mercurio where he utilized some interesting open string techniques as well as what I have come to know as some sweet Jaco-slides, and finally a well-anticipated drum solo from Moore, who had the whole stage to himself. The crowd watched as new ideas and rhythms constantly poured out of him including some really interesting muting/pitch bending techniques that had my mind blown.

Last but certainly not least was a Sympathy For The Devil encore that had the crowd singing, “wooh wooh!” long after the music stopped. The show ended around 1230, and the crowd made of mostly late-twenties Denver folk headed into the streets to drink on. As for me, I set off onto 36 with my loyal photographer, Harvdog to live to funk another day.

Check out more photos from the show.

Sat, 03/16/2013 - 4:49 pm

This year, after hearing some friends preach Twiddle to me every opportunity they got, I caught the first chance to see them without having to go to SnowBall Music Festival. Before the show began I got the opportunity to sit down with the band and discus topics ranging from musical backgrounds and influences to the band’s experiences with their new label under Madison House, and the massive buzz they are creating that’s sweeping the country. We set up shop in the small room behind the stage and continued outside when the opener was sound checking. The questions went smoothly, and the band’s humble attitude and quirky humor made the experience that more enjoyable and informal. While the guys weren’t exactly used to getting interviewed, I have a feeling they will be soon.

GW: Can I get your musical backgrounds?

Mihali Savoulidis: I’m from New Jersey originally, and I started listening to Dave Matthews when I was like really young, and kind of got into acuoustic guitar playing. Then through that I got into Phish, String Cheese, and all that and wanted to play more lead. So, I took some jazz lessons with Steve Girardi, he’s a really good guitar teacher from Jersey, and I started listening to a lot of Ernest Ranglin who’s a Jamaican-jazz guitar player. So pretty much from listening to a lot of Ernest and going and seeing my favorite live bands like I figured out the style of guitar I wanted to play. I do a lot of singer-songwriter stuff now because I have acoustic gigs so some of the songs I’m writing now are more like that but I primarily play electric.

Zdenek Gubb: I grew up in Southern Vermont, back down the boondocks ….(gibberish), and I started listening to kind of almost metal…well it was really Pink Floyd and Korn and Primus that really got me into playing bass, and there I kind of graduated to Jeff Beck and the Beatles and Phish, really when I joined the band is when I got into more jam band kind of stuff, that was in high school. Now I’m a little more into the bluegrass thing, but my musical style changed throughout all different styles of music.

GW: How about yourself (Ryan), musical backgrounds and influences?

Ryan Dempsey: Uhh, I like the black eyed peas, except for everything musically they do. I started out listening to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, once I saw them play live I wanted to play live, because they put on a great show. And I was into Phish but I met Mickey at school and I got more into that kind of music and String Cheese, but then started studying jazz in college and got into Miles Davis and Hiromi which is this Asian girl who just like has sex with the piano when she plays it. Its really sexy. Oh, and the Bad Plus, I love that piano player, he’s a big inspiration. But that’s as far as like being inspired by piano, but I just love the way Phish’s formula of improvisation, and String Cheese’s formula, like letting things go and find a place and come together through nothing idea. So that’s what I do it for, and would probably be bored if I didn’t have that, because that’s what really makes it for me.

Brook Jordan: I got my first kit when I was 10 and I was skateboarding a lot back then and was into like harder punk and hardcore music, and that’s what I started drumming on, even though I did jazz school in middle school or whatever. Early in middle school I was turned onto the Grateful Dead and Phish, and then I didn’t look back from there. I listened to those kind of guys and then once I met these guys, actually our first bass player was a big influence of mine on opening my mind up to music I’ve never heard of, but I also listen to singer-songwriter stuff too because I like to play guitar myself.

GW: What is it about reggae and funk that allow them mesh so well?

Zdenek: It’s the two styles of music that people always dance to no matter what, it’s just the way the rhythm works, people always can dance to it if the rhythms there and it’s tight.

Ryan: Well they are kind of the opposite of each other where funk is more of a down beat and reggae is more of the upbeat, but your still dancing to either the upbeat or the downbeat.

Mihali: As a band if you generally go into a reggae song people kind of get up and start moving around, I mean who doesn’t like reggae? And funk is the same way. Funk is the essential dance music that kind of started it all in terms of like really gettin’ down. I think naturally they go hand in hand if you can blend them well.

GW: What are some of your favorite acts to see live today?

Zdenek: Kung Fu.

Mihali: I like seeing Dopapod too.

Zdenek: Zappa Plays Zappa   M: Zappa Plays Zappa

Ryan: Zappa Plays Zappa, I love it more than Zappa…

Brook: Plus we all love seeing Phish again, no other band really compares, at least for me anyways is seeing them live. I would go see String Cheese more if they came to more East coast, but they don’t like the East coast.

Mihali: Yea, String Cheese is one of my favorite bands to see live period. I watched them a lot when I was younger but it’s hard to catch shows now because we have to come out here.

GW: Were you guys always going to be musicians or was it sort of a leap of faith for any of you?

Ryan: Ha ha it was for me.

Mihali: I always figured that’s what I was going to do, it was the only thing I was good at.

Ryan: I mean I wanted to do it. It was always like being a basketball player, but once I saw Bela Fleck…

Mihali: When I met you, you wanted to do movies didn’t you?

Ryan: I did, I graduated with a film degree but then I met Mickey, and if I hadn’t have met Mickey, I wouldn’t have been a musician.

Mihali: For the three of us (Zdenek joined the band in 2007), it was like a moment where it clicked during one of the first couple shows, watching the response we got.

Zdenek: When I was 13 I saw Victor Wooten play, it was my thirteenth birthday and he jumped out on top of the amp while they were starting to play and I was like, yep, that’s what I want to do. I remember driving home and thinking that is what I want to do for the rest of my life. So, then these guys picked me up when I was 17 as a senior in high school, and I was like, not going to school, nope.

Mihali: I went to college to find a band and get it started, I had no intention of actually going to college.

Ryan: He actually didn’t go to class for like a whole semester and we just wrote music in the dorm.

GW: What is yall’s definition of progress, and how much of it do you think you have made since your formation?

Mihali: For me it started off as just like alright, I want to play at that venue and then six months later is was like Nectar’s and then we got into Nectar’s and then it was like oh it would be cool to play at Higher Ground which is a bigger venue in Vermont and we went from the small room to the big room. You set your goals, like for us coming out here to play the Fox theater was a goal for us, so maybe the next one is the Boulder Theater.

Brook: And there’s also musical progression, as well. From people I talk to they say that we continue to get better.

Ryan: If you listen to old recording until now there’s a noticeable difference. And Zdenek changed the game too though.

Brook: There’s also signing to Madison House, getting a full merch table.

Zdenek: I think the big thing to notice with progress is not just the number of people at shows but more of the amount of people who are paying attention. Because, you know if you have a bunch of people at a show it doesn’t really mean that much if they’re not paying attention, they’re just there to party. We’re not truly progressing until people are really paying attention and feeling it.

Ryan: I think playing with John Popper from Blues Traveler the other night was pretty huge

GW: Can you guys tell me about signing with Madison House?

Zdenek: No.

(ha ha)

Mihali: Because I listened to String Cheese all growing up I was well aware of Madison House all through my younger years, so when we got to the point when we realized eventually we will have to start using a booking agent and stuff, they were always at the top of the list for me and us, that’s what we always talked about, it was our goal.

Brook: One day I got an email from one of our agents now that literally just said, “Who’s booking for you?” and that was it. I thought it was a joke, I’m looking at my phone like, are you fucking kidding me right now?

Mihali: And they’re a super cool company too because they contacted us early and said hey guys we thing you’re great but we still think there’s a little bit of work that needs to be done before your at the level that we pickup, and they kind of pushed us through til we were at that point. They gave us advice, we could call them if we had certain things we wanted to know. They were patient with us.

GW: What’s your mission, what keeps you guys touring hard?

Mihali: To grow the fans really, and get the music spread out as much as we can.

Zdenek: It’s also the belief in real music, not just electronic, built by a computer music, and we respect that but we want to keep the vibe of real music going. For me it’s like, I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t in the band, but I would want to do something for people. The more we play, the more fans we get, the more we realize we are making people happy.

Ryan: And that’s a great thing to do for a living.

GW: How was SnowBall? Did your organic sound have any trouble satisfying the whomp-heads?

Mihali: Um yeah, SnowBall was a lot of whomp-heads.

Brook: But we filled up the tent!

Zdenek: We did better than we thought we would.

Brook: And there were people in the front row screaming Twiddle so some of them had seen us before.

Mihali: We were nervous though I’ll tell you that.

Ryan: But we did throw in a little electronic.

GW: What’s the songwriting process like in the group?

Mihali: Most of the lyrics I write, Brook has a few songs, Zdenek wrote a song with us. In the beginning, most of the wacky instrumental stuff was me and Ryan, all of the very intricate kind of harder stuff to play, we wrote. And if I am having a really hard time, Ryan is the best person to sit down with because he knows infinite chords and progressions and he can write the most beautiful chords in three seconds and then it makes it easy for me to put lyrics to it. So that helps, and Zdenek writes on his own as well, actually some of our more popular songs, Doinkinbonk.

Zdenek: Well also these guys have given me the freedom to write my own bass lines, we all come from a lot of different musical backgrounds and if we all feel it’s right, it’s probably right.

Brook: And it’s cool too because they let me write some songs on guitar.

Mihali: Also when he writes his songs he sings them which gives the band a different sound, like the lyrics aren’t all coming from me.

GW: I want to tell y’all I found out about you by people just raving about your live shows, and there are people traveling all over Colorado for three nights to see you guys, and when I asked a couple of random people about you guys, more than one person has said something to the magnitude of, they are the next Phish.

[Everyone at once]: John Popper said that!

Zdenek: He goes, you’re the next Phish…it’s a good thing. For the longest time we though, let’s not talk about Phish in our interviews. We love Phish, but we’re not trying to sound them, we are trying to sound like ourselves. But they are a huge influence!

Mihali: The problem is that we’re the same instrumentation and we’ve all listened to that band probably more than most other bands, so it’s definitely instilled in our blood, but if you put the bands side by side we don’t sound anything alike. But it’s very easy to just say, oh they sound like phish and that’s what we don’t want . We don’t want people to assume that we are exactly like them and we’re from Vermont and that’s that. The music if really different, but if you listen to the jams, yes, you’ll get some of the same energy and stuff like that but it’s definitely like comparing Phish to the Grateful Dead.

Ryan: It’s the tension and climax that I think we are most compared to.

GW: Your sound at some points can become pretty distorted and synthy, but never quite as heavy as bands like Umphrey’s McGee are going these days, are there certain constraints you guys place on each other to maintain a natural instrumental sound?

[Everyone at once] Nope.

Mihali: I mean I don’t think I would be comfortable in us all getting up on computers, I think that would draw the line for me. But, I have a lot of respect for the kind of natural electronic stuff like The New Deal, and bands that are playing their instruments and making the music you know? They’re not just going through Ableton or whatever. That stuff is not easy to do, especially being a drummer, being on a click like that is definitely not easy.

Brook: Yeah, the New Deal. They were originators. They would do shows and wouldn’t play songs, they would just jam a whole show.

Zdenek: Hand signals the whole way through.

Mihali: It’s like String Cheese, I love them to death, they were my favorite band growing up, but it was more difficult to thoroughly enjoy all the shows when they would get off and go right into the computer shit, and Kang would put his thing down and turn around and get on his computer or whatever.

GW: They’re doing that a lot now? Is it because of EOTO?

Zdenek: Well they’re just catering to the young crowd

Ryan: Well they’re also catering to the new technology. It’s like when Miles Davis tried to experiment with new things, that’s what they are doing. It’s new and that’s where music is going kind of.

GW: What is it about the quartet that allows y’all to produce your ideal sound?

Brook: We like horns and stuff too, but I don’t think any of us really like one horn in particular that we would add to the band. I’m against adding a percussion player…because I’m a little bitch.

Mihali: I think the sound comes from if anything, the more you play with a group of people you just get comfortable with they’re playing.

Brook: I feel like also at times, our music can get really chaotic and cluttered but at the same time we all have our own time to do our own thing and adding another person just adds to the difficulty of letting everyone do their own thing and shine.

GW: When you guys are improvising on stage, are there any special connections between certain band members or is everybody more or less equally involved with each other?

Mihali: Ryan and Zdenek.

Ryan: Zdenek and I do have…well to create music on the spot we try to…

Zdenek: Go out of the ordinary. We use some hand signals to go through…

Ryan: Intervals.

Mihali: Brook’s playing in the back and I’m usually floating on top.

Zdenek: The bass can control how Mickey sounds, if Mickey can flow on a riff up top, and Zdenek were to switch…I have to be with Zdenek because his bass note will decide any emotion of…

Mihali: But you guys usually switch to something I’m playing.

Ryan: Yea, we won’t go way out of the tonality.

Mihali: I think something else we try and stick to is that we really try and improvise on a lot of our songs and just from nothing, from one chord out. Whereas a band like Umphrey’s who jams too, but it’s a little more structured, like they kind of know the chord progressions and what’s gonna go into it. Someone’s taking a solo while the other people are vamping, whereas with us it’s just kind of like lets go for it and see where it will go. It could suck terribly, but sometimes you hit gold, and that’s when it makes it truly awesome. And you know that song will be different than any other version of it, and hopefully that’s why people come out to see us; because they are gonna hear something new.

GW: Any studio work coming up in the near future?

Mihali: I think our next thing is a live album. That’s probably gonna be what come’s out next from us before another studio.

GW: Give me one of your favorite recent Twiddle memories.

[Everyone at once]: John Popper, meeting him, and playing Blues Traveler tunes with him.

GW: A friend who’s a big Twiddle fan wanted me to ask you; what is Hattie’s Jam about?

Mihali: My buddy who lived in Colorado. He’s my best friend and he passed away a couple years ago. I wrote the song Hattibegan McGrat which was a bluegrass tune before he died, so he got to hear it a bunch. Never got to hear the band do it but yea, he’s pretty much my best friend and he passed away in Thailand. It was meant to be a full song, but I played it before When It Rains It Pours one day and it just kind of seemed like it went hand in hand, and both of those songs kind of came out of tragedy so they both have that similar vibe that people can relate to.

Tue, 03/19/2013 - 8:20 am

After listening to my friends rave about Twiddle shows they’ve seen all over the country, whether it was a Phish after party or just a small show at a bar, I decided to drive down to Fort Collins from my home in Boulder, catch the $5 show and see what all the buzz was about. Hodi’s Half Note is a small bar venue in the middle of one of the main streets in Fort Collins. The crowd was mostly young college-aged people who had either already seen Twiddle and loved them, or were in a similar word-of-mouth situation as me. Twiddle came on around 11:30 or so after a super entertaining opener from the Easy Rders who spun us a mix of the Dead and The Allman Brothers, with an closing Whipping Post that had the whole vienue ecstatically cheering, including Mihali, guitarist of Twiddle.

The band opened up with a reggae sounding jam called Hein Hod’s Hoddle that immediately roused the crowd, which had almost packed the small venue full. I remember thinking that it felt really good to finally hear guitar player and lead vocalist, Mihali Savoulidis’ voice after watching a bunch of YouTube videos that didn’t really manage to capture the full effect. They transitioned Hein into Country Roads by John Denver, which for me, came out of nowhere, but was a pleasant surprise. Country Roads ended and the guys leapt into a super funky jam they call Latin Tang. During Tang, each member of the group showed their chops with some intense break and fill sections. As Savoulidis continued to tease Voodoo Child, keys player, Ryan Dempsey embarked on a synthy, Balkan-sounding solo that lead the groove into a bass and drum section where bassist, Zdenek Gubb carried the rhythm and the melody with his acute slap technique. Another Highlight from early in the show was my now favorite Twiddle song, Doinkinbonk! This extremely versatile jam written by bassist, Gubb, featured a Claypool inspired bass line, harmonious a capella inserts, intense tension building melodic sections, and finally sweet release that blasts into a gratifying, danceable chorus in which the band shouts, “everybody Doinkinbonk!” I have practically no notes on this song because I absolutely had to dance.

The latter half of the show contained a very well received rendition of Keller Williams and the String Cheese Incident’s, “Best Feeling”. Savoulidis managed to hit the Keller voice perfectly while Gubb murdered the bass line with a huge smile. An under-water-space-invader synth solo from Dempsey during the reggae breakdown was the cherry on top of that tasty cake. Best Feeling led into what I believe was the Friends Theme, but I can’t be entirely sure because the set list I got from the show was very different from the one they posted on Facebook. Anyways, this song may have been my favorite of the night. The band once again showed their incredibly musical diversity by executing smooth transitions from a super technical, Zappa-like melody, to a swing pattern filled with lively breaks and fills. As I leaned against the wall to check out some of the pictures I had taken, the band launched into a groove that seemed all too familiar. I began asking my friends around me, “What is this? I know this song!” When the melody began I realized that yes, in fact I did know the song, and it just happened to be the very same song I had been playing on my guitar the past three weeks, John Scofield’s A Go Go. I was so excited I ran to the front of the room to dance and give praise and almost didn’t notice when they progressed into yet another favorite of mine, Medeski Martin and Wood’s, Bubblehouse. These songs were such a contrast to the heavily lyrical tunes that I was expecting to hear from my experience with the Internet Twiddle search, I was immensely impressed with both their musicianship and the staggering amount of diversity they had already displayed in less than a full set.

Another mentionable tune was Gatsby The Great in which the group yet again displayed their impeccable use of break and fill sections that scream rock and roll. The guys launched straight from Gatsby into the end of Phish’s Divided Sky, which they had teased much earlier in the show. By this point, I was overjoyed. A Hattie’s Jam->When It Rains It Pours->Over The Rainbow->When It Rains It Pours encore conveyed the feelings of tragedy, helplessness, and hope for the future all in a one-song sequence. Just as I’m beginning to think that the crowd energy takes a big detriment during heavy lyrical parts, the band kicked back in, and the bouncy, bluegrassy melody of When It Rains It Pours carried the energy into another level of excitement.

This band, having just signed with Madison House is on their way up to burst through the surface of the genre. Most people were directed by word of mouth to their first Twiddle show, and the buzz is only getting bigger. I think after years of being together, they have finally solidified a sound they can call their own. As I watched during a jam, Dempsey and Gubb throw hand signals back and forth across opposite ends of the stage, and Savoulidis hover above the groove, shifting and shaping it into something that drummer, Brook Jordan can connect; I could tell by the smiles on their faces that they’re in a good place. They’re in a place of exponential growth, both in the sense of fans, as well as musical skill. Don’t let people tell you they’re the next Phish, because, like Savoulidis told me in our interview, there is no next Phish, just like Phish wasn’t the next Grateful Dead. If you’ve gathered anything from this review I would hope it is the urgency to get out and see these guys do their thing on a small stage, in some small bar, before you have to start paying the equal price of the talent that you’re actually getting.

Also, be sure to check out our recent interview with Twiddle.

Sun, 04/07/2013 - 4:37 pm

Recently I had the special opportunity to see the legendary Toots and the Maytals, just a couple of blocks from my house at the Fox Theater in Boulder CO. My work thus far with Grateful Web has been mostly reviewing jam-bands, taking notes on their instrumentation, and reporting commendable jams. So, as you could imagine, this was a much different experience than I was used to.

The show didn’t sell out, but the theater was pretty packed with the most diverse crowd I had seen in boulder. A mix of civilized wooks, white guys in Hawaiians and some old school roots reggae dudes sprinkled in throughout the floor. The band came on stage around 945 and began playing. The bassist came out to the front and gave an enthusiastic introduction for Toots who stepped out in a black leather suit with the sleeves cutoff, black sunglasses, a black headband, and white penny loafers. Everyone went wild for Toots as he launched into his first song commanding the crowd into collective chants. Pressure Drop, one of Toots most famous songs got people really bouncing. Then, during Higher and Higher, Toots took his first trip of many to the front of the stage to give fist bumps and handshakes all around. Fans climbed over each other to shake his hand as Toots moved meticulously from one corner to the other, making sure to show his appreciation to anyone who could reach.


Higher and Higher ended with the band picking the tempo up 10 fold, a technique they used throughout the night to end many songs. Reggae Got Soul was another mentionable song that highlighted a two-part keys melody, and the vital importance of the two female backup singers. Bam Bam followed, which sent the crowd into another high-energy frenzy. In the middle of the tune, Toots had one of his crew come out and help him put his acoustic guitar, which added a nice layer of sound that buzzed delicately above the melody and rhythm. Toots’ soloing abilities were limited, but well received. Funky Kingston followed the extended Bam Bam and carried on for a good while before the final song, Monkey Man.

A four song encore that included classics such as Toots’ rendition of Country Roads by John Denver, and the super-famous 54-46 topped off the night with high spirits. This show exceeded any expectations I had, and I was immensely impressed by the fire that still rages in Toots’ heart which he shares with everyone in the room. When he approaches the front of the stage for fan greetings or does some hammertime-style dance move, the crowd cheers him on every single time. The staggering amount of energy that he brings in his performance is absolutely incredible for the 68-year-old legend he is. If Toots comes to your town, I hope you take the unique opportunity to see him do his thing. It’s guaranteed to make you smile

Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO

Check out more photos from the show.

Wed, 10/16/2013 - 9:01 am

This past week seemed to go on forever. In between school and work shifts, all people could talk about was Saturday night and how wild it was going to be. Since their last appearance at the Lazy Dog in Boulder, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (PPPP) has been racking up new friends and fans out west with serious momentum. While I missed most of their recent Colorado run, I was able to catch them open for Twiddle (who has a very similar story of an East Coast band reaching great success out West), at the Fox Theater in Boulder. The Baltimore native quartet is comprised of Greg Ormont (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Jeremy Schon (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Ben Carrey (Bass, Vocals), and Dan Schwartz (Drums, Vocals). Founded in December of 2007, PPPP performs over 100 shows per year, concentrated mostly on the East Coast, but often making the voyage out West and to the rest of the country.

I first caught wind of PPPP after my friends saw them on their previous Colorado run. The words they used to describe them sounded like this, “funky”, “hilarious”, “really fucking sick”. They raved about them all year, one friend even keeping a Pigeons CD in his car, bumping it every time he drove up to Red Rocks this summer (which was a lot of times). After listening to some songs from the CD as well as Archive, I came to the uninformed conclusion that these guys, while clearly very practiced, were more or less a silly novelty of a band who’s main focus was getting more absurd every show. After seeing them for the first time, this all changed.

The boys took the stage at about nine pm sporting pajama pants and tie-dye leggings with bowling shoes and stuffed animals tied onto their mic stands. Front man, Greg, welcomed the crowd of about 30 people, and then they set off with a quick 20th Century Fox Theme opener, an obvious nod to the legendary Fox

Ben Carrey | Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Theater that they were about to crush. The first full song of the show was Funk E Zekiel off of Funk E P. This sweet tune was a perfect introduction to the band for all those new to the flock (the name of Pigeons’ followers). What started as a spacey, majory jam quickly got kicked into a high gear funk groove reminiscent of a Meters tune that sparked the small crowd into dance. Greg laid back on a rhythmic guitar groove that laid a solid platform for lead shredmaster, Jeremy, to feed us the spicy melody that drove the song. This tune presented us with the paradigm that most of Pigeons’ songs followed for the rest of the night:

Spacey, Majory, guitar jam with a healthy amount of delay that creates a swirling soundscape only to be broken up when Drummer, Dan and Bassist, Ben get to a peakàBreakàSuper fat funk grooveàMore breaks/Jeremy shredsàSpacey Jams/Jeremy shreds.

All that was missing in the groove was Greg’s booming voice that’s as grandiose as his Afro. After Funk E Zekiel, we got our first taste of Greg’s energy when he welcomed the small crowd once again, echoing loudly above a fat bass and drum groove via Ben and Dan. At this moment I clearly remember thinking that he reminded me of the Lollypop man from P-Funk. I cannot underestimate the power of Greg’s charisma. Everyone can agree that when they see the band having as much fun as them, it only makes the experience that much better. Greg is the epitome of an artist connecting with the crowd; a smile rarely escapes his face, and he’s always moving. Often times when I see an artist showing that much energy, it seems forced and fabricated. However, with Pigeons, I never felt that once. No matter how bizarre they got with their choreographed dance moves or how often Greg echoed himself with his own voice, I never felt one bit of inauthenticity. These guys may be a little nuts, but they are extremely passionate about what they do. This became clear through their performance as well as shooting the shit with them after their set. At the end of this year, they will have played about 180 shows, and that statistic speaks for itself.

Other highlights from their Saturday night set included an original titled, Julia, and one of the best renditions of Psycho Killer I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen the Motet do it twice). Julia begins with a quick spacey jam that gives way to the dominant guitar melody from Jeremy that I could only describe as a light, airy, bohemian string of notes, with a touch of some Cinninger Umph. Then, Greg lays some smooth lyrics that build in energy until the immensely catchy chorus flows in. Someone in the band had a great idea to shove a samba-style jam right in the middle of the tune, and it really works! They bust right out of the end of the digression and straight back into the song’s main major progression, but with the addition of Jeremy shredding at full steam. A couple transitions and an excellent Mario jam later, the first notes of Psycho Killer rang out from Ben’s bass. They got a wah-heavy groove going and then busted into the verse with Greg leading the charge. He screamed where the lyrics need screaming but never he never distorted his voice at all or muddled the words. As I watched Greg echo his own singing, getting higher and higher until he faded out like a cartoon, it became clear to me that early what seemed like a silly antic now materialized itself as a well-deployed musical tool.

The last song I have to mention also happened to be the last of the set. Couldn’t We All is funky hip-hop song with a chilled out bluesy chorus that begs you to sing along. Towards the end of the jam, the band segued into the funk jam of Phish’s Y.E.M. and really got the now 400+ audience members jumping and howling. I absolutely love this shit. I am disappointed in the number of really youthful jam bands that try so hard to avoid sounding like the archetypes of the genre that they almost deny their influences. However, I take great joy in seeing a young band project their own unique image and style while at the same time display their influences proudly and send their appreciation to the greats by playing their songs and doing them justice.

PPPP are on their way back to the East coast as I write this, playing shows all along the way. They add more shows to their tour schedule all time, and are always delivering more surprises (including a return trip to Colorado in the spring) to the flock. This is the part of the review where I tell you if you haven’t experienced the wild display of funkadelic musical expression that is Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, then get out there and go get your wings! They play just about 50 percent of the year, so chances are, if you look online you might just find them blasting off at your local venue or at a wide array of music festivals.|