Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Slags, SmoKing Bill and Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra at Darrells 11-16-12

It was an interesting mix of music tonight. In true fashion, Darrells presented another eclectic show that always manages to please.

Darrells is my front room, one of my favorite places to see live music. The people are amazing, the adult beverages are varied, reasonably priced and plentiful and the environment is comfortable and welcoming. This evening proved to be extra special as they added a new sound system. You can see a peek of it here on the right.

Dan is the owner and I got to talk with him at length. He saw a set of speakers that he just had to have at American Music here in Seattle. They have been providing musicians with instruments, amps and speakers for years. See them here:

I am sure Scott, the sound tech and co-booking agent was thrilled to see the new addition. The vintage, tri-amped McCauley speaker towers complete with incredible thumping sub-woofers marked a phenomenal change in the sound. Without being overwhelming, it was a physical experience as you could feel the bass in your gut. Overall, it was an awesome upgrade; a wonderful investment and addition to the already great sound at Darrells.

The first band didn't challenge the big new sound system. Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra had an interesting concept and sound. I can find no information on them at all and truth be told I spent most of their set talking.

The band was skilled and talented; one played a stand up bass, one a small tenor ukelele(?) and the other a clarinet. Their repertoire was instrumental versions of Zappa tunes.

I am not a huge connoisseur of Zappa but know a few tunes. I heard some of snippets of recognizable songs tonight. This was an interesting interpretation of the great one's music.

SmoKing Bill was on next and I recognized a few of the members of this band. I had seen some of the brass section before. This mix was delicious; I love horns and they had a full front line of them.

SmoKing Bill is: Jesse Calixto on lead vocals and guitar, Adam Bruno on trumpet, Ed Littlefield on drums, Mike Ayre on trombone, Brian Mueller on trombone and Ben Dietzen on bass.

They played tunes with names like Hemp, Hemp, Hemp and In the Land of Cheese. While many of their tunes were of the novelty type, they did absolutely rock. The horns were singing the good stuff, Ben on bass was killing and Jesse sang some hilarious vocals.

The drummer was great. H5ere Ed is playing some awesome percussion.

These guys were having a lot of fun. They invited the clarinet player from the previous band to sit in for a couple tunes. The addition of the clarinet to this already dynamite brass section was killer.

Ben was outrageous on the bass, one of the best I have heard in a while. He played with his back to the audience for the most part, here I caught him making a rare appearance.

They had a strong ska beat mixed with funk and rock. It was really a lot of fun for the audience too. They brought their own fan club. The place was filled with adoring fans, this guy was dancing up a storm.

I found their sound to be fresh and original; they also had a great stage show. Here they are doing a little leg kick with some of the fans rocking along.

This was a super entertaining show, they had the place cooking with their brand of fun. You can see more about them here:

Here is evidence of their crazy fans; this cute girl was doing a little improv-theater for the lead singer Jesse, as he sat at the bar after their set.

I have to add one more photo as I found them to be a lot of fun, see them if you get a chance.

Next up were The Slags, a collection of cool guys playing garage music with a vintage sound. I heard 80's punk, reggae and rock in their sound.

By this time the crowd had thinned, the fans of SmoKing Bill had left for parts unknown. But The Slags were rocking none the less. The Slags are: Bill Curtin on guitar and vocals, Mark Curtin on drums, Tim Healy on guitar and vocals, Steve Schwartz on bass and as of right now, an unknown woodwind player.

They played original punk inspired songs with names like Slag Heap and 8-Track. The former reminding me of Lou Reed in the vocals and intent. The guitar work was super strong. Here is Tim killing his beautiful 6 string.

A trip to the punk side of things, The Slags had a great sound and stage presence.

8-Track has a strong reggae beat, the vocals are sung in a heavy bass voice. Big reverb and killer psychedelic guitar makes this tune a total-recall of vintage garage rock.

They reminded me of bands I used to see in the small clubs in LA in the early 80's.

I have listened to some of their music online sans saxophone and I really like the new sound. The mystery man was multi-talented playing the alto and baritone saxophone as well as a flute. He added a lot to the mix tonight.

A good time was had by all. The Slags were a blast. They had a vintage sound with a marvelous twist, wonderful original live music.

I like a band that comes with its own light show, the sign of experienced, total-theater performers.

You can see and hear The Slags here:

You can see Darrells and the calendar of upcoming bands here:

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