Saturday, September 27, 2014

Aloha Screwdriver, 1Uppers and Money Jungle at Darrells Tavern 9-26-14

This was a great evening of friends and music. I was fortunate that my friends also make the music. Here is Don, Grant and Steve, collectively known as Aloha Screwdriver at my house for dinner.

My sweet wife Cathie prepared one of her killer, healthy meals and we broke bread with one of our favorite bands. Here is Donald, lead guitar.

Grant is quiet and shy until he puts on the suit...

And Steve, who is funny and animated. Good traits for a drummer.

I have been a big fan for years and am lucky to have helped them find gigs in Seattle. In the process we have become friends. When they let me know they were going to be touring in the fall of 2014, I went to work. I called my friends at Darrells Tavern and made the date.

I asked Donald who he would like to be on the bill and he said if he had his way he would have Johnny Cash and The Ramones. I know and love one of the best country steel players in the city and I asked him and his band to join. The 1Uppers are a wonderful country band and were happy to join after a summer long hiatus. The other band did not become apparent  until they volunteered. Money Jungle is a fun and talented novelty/cover/rock band with a great sense of humor. I couldn't say no.

I designed this poster combining the things I loved about the bands translated with a shoe.

I have reviewed all the bands above and they can be found in the archives. Here are a few quick hits, Aloha Screwdriver:

The 1Uppers:

Money Jungle:

The 1Uppers were on first, they are: Eric Eagle on drums, Kris Geren on lead guitar and vocals, Jon Hyde on pedal-steel, dobro and vocals, John Hendow on baritone 6 string and vocals, Caben "Buzz" Busswell on bass and Dave Russell on acoustic guitar and lead vocals.

They had taken some time off this summer and this was their first show in some time. You would not have known they had laid off as they were tight and solid. The vocal harmonies all perfect, the solos and skills as they always have been; heaven.

Here are Jon Hyde's Magic Fingers.

He and John joined in harmonies.

Kris Geren is one of the best guitarist I have ever seen. He is stoic, unassuming and a statue as he melts your face with his six string genius.

Caben is hiding in back, he is the indispensable bottom, keeping the boys honest and the beat tight.

Eric is in back working the drums in his usual great style.

David is the voice of the 1Uppers. His vocals are sweet and passionate.

A tighter, better set I could not imagine. They played all my faves and a few new tunes. They sounded like they played all summer.

The dancers were 2-steppin and the appreciative crowd was moving.

Both of the John/Jon's are my friends from work. I got to talking to John about his gear. I have always loved his purple baritone guitar. He made beautiful sound on that instrument. He told me he had a new one that he liked even better.

He always has a killer pedal set-up. John plays many guitars and many roles in this and other bands. He is definitely a tech geek.

I screamed for more at the end of their set but they deferred saying they were over-time. Thanks to The 1Uppers for playing their usual great set.

You can connect with them here:

The headliners came on in the middle. The last time I had Aloha Screwdriver play a show they were last and even as Ferenc Dobronyi warned me, it ran late and they came on at 1 to a tired audience. The boys and I decided that they come on at 10:30 and it worked out well.

Oh yeah, they came on and just kept coming. Aloha Screwdriver has one of the best stage shows in the business. They not only present great music but marvelous theater as well.

High energy instrumental music that is generally heaped into the Surf genre is their style. They have 2 discs and 1 7"EP which they just released. This tour was in support of this musical effort adding 4 new songs to their repertoire and library.

I was lucky enough to purchase one at the venue, then promptly forgot it. I was in a great mood and had a couple of Damien's (my favorite barkeep at Darrell's) special drinks. They had a powerful effect.

It didn't take long before the boys were warmed up and cooking.

Grant is pretty laid back, until he puts on his silver lamé suit and the black-out glasses. Then he is pure entertainment.

Friends since High-School, they played in early bands together before reforming as Aloha Screwdriver. Steve is an amazing drummer. Leon Berman from KEXP introduced them and has always said he thought Steve was one of the best drummers he has ever seen.

Steve also has the coolest sunglasses. These look other-worldly.

This is a man who is not happy to sit still. I will bet he was a handful when he was a kid, I mean now that he is a kid. Here he is in his semi-static position.

In a moment, his fellow band-mates started taking parts of his drum set and moving it out into the audience.

Left with nothing to play he had to move where his set was deposited. At first I thought this was schtick, now I am actually wondering if Steve knew what was going on (I did serve him one of my special cocktails).

Besides being an excellent percussionist, entertainer and musician, he is a sweet fellow. He is a blur sometimes too:

Donald Bell is also fairly unassuming until he assumes the position, then the inner-child takes over. With his Bat-Wing Guitar, he can break glass in one moment and make you cry the next.

The Rock-Box wasn't working like it normally does (maybe it was me) but I did get a few of him in the glow of 100,00 watts.

This band bring killer energy and fresh, original instrumental music that I never get tired of, here is a copy of tonight's set. They added 4 new tunes, but still managed to play many of my faves.

Aloha Screwdriver is Grant Shellen on bass, Steve Slater on percussion and Donald Bell on lead guitar. Between all of the theater and events they still rock the house.

Just as you were lulled into the surf beat, a Ray-gun fight broke out. I came armed so I was not worried about myself, but what about the innocents? Aloha Screwdriver didn't seem to care.

It is hard to say what the impact of the unsuspecting will be when they get a load of this:

After the set, my friends and I commented on how tired we were from just watching this fantastic band. I have seen them many times, I have never seen them so tight, or so animated.  Watching Steve himself is worth the price of admission.

The poor fella just never seemed to get comfortable, here he is on the move again.

He also seems to have real anger issues; he beats on just about anything in front of him.

I couldn't imagine a more entertaining evening. Aloha Screwdriver gets better with every year and their brand of music is gaining popularity world-wide. Thanks to The Boys from Alameda for playing in our fair city.

Connect with Aloha Screwdriver here:
and here:

I was ending my evening due to lack of energy and too much fun. But I had to stay for one of the funnest acts on the planet. Here comes Money Jungle.

They were introduced by an enthusiastic gentleman in a black shirt, gold lame tie (nattily tucked in to the top of his shirt), and a gold lame Mexican wrestler mask. He got your attention.

This was a totally hilarious intro, giving the most lavish props and salutations to each of the band members.

This is in keeping with their most marvelous and entertaining schtick. Some of the members dress like, well, neo-nerds. Ned has his pants hiked way up to his nipples and wears coke-bottle glasses. There are orange pants with the zipper always down, feather boas and big 70's sunglasses.

 They also make way too much of their efforts, raising their hands over their heads after every tune. They are gods. Here is a pic I stole from their Facebook account.

I was toast and needed to be driven home and my ride was leaving. But here is a flavor for one of the most entertaining bands in the area. Thanks to Money Jungle for partying with us.

Thanks to Scott and Dan at Darrells Tavern for hosting this event. This is the best venue in town for intimate live music. A retro interior and stellar service make for comfortable fun.

See Darrells here:
and here: