A Few Suggestions From Your Friendly Phlogger
Words By Nicholas Stock (phatphlogblog.blogspot.com)
So now that I’m getting into the flow with my weekly posts I thought I would take a moment to talk about a few bands that are near and dear to my heart. Going to as many shows as I do for as long as I have it’s inevitable that some will make an impact, perhaps even become friends. I would like to talk about a few such bands.
I first ran into these guys all the way back in 2001 while attending a now defunct festival in rural Iowa known as Exodus. I specifically remember sitting in the grass waiting for the music to start when Euforquestra guitarist Mike Tallman sat down in our circle. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and my first introduction to what this band was all about. They are a mix of World, Afro-Cuban, Afrobeat, Reggae, and Funk. They play a brand of jam that is rarely seen today, they have a sense of music that is filtered though the various personalities of the band members as well their deep knowledge of music.
Austin Zaletel penned the title song from their last album Soup about a recipe his grandmother use to make and how all the women in the neighborhood wanted to steal it. Matt Grundstad has traveled to Cuba several times to study percussion with the masters. What he brought back with him was the ability to infuse Afrobeat rhythms in the context of the Eufroquestra sound. Luckily a few years after I moved out to Colorado they followed.
Eufroquestra now calls Fort Collins their home and they have had some real success. Touring with The Motet, playing with Page McConnell during The Big Easy Blowout and playing to almost 10,000 people at Bohemian Nights are just a few of their accomplishments. They have had a few lineup changes over the years but I can honestly say they have solidified what they do in a big way out on the Front Range. Anyone who I’ve ever taken to one of their shows becomes an instant fan. They are insatiable and it’s almost impossible not to dance when they are playing. Take some time and give their album Soup a listen. It’s available for free download on their site www.euforquestra.com! You won’t be disappointed.
These boys burst onto the scene a couple years ago and have been wowing audiences with their brand of psychedelically funky progressive rock ever since. I first caught them opening up for Yamn in 2009. I got chance to meet Zach Simms and the rest of the crew when they opened for Garage-A-Tois. That was most definitely a seminal show for them. Zobomaze is mostly instrumental so it makes it easier to meld their sound to whomever they are playing with, and that night at Cervantes they were spot on.
The first thing you notice is how young they are as well as how accomplished the members are musically. They shred. Doug Litvak on guitar plays like a man twice his age and really takes time to nail each note deliberately. Zobomaze is one of those bands that stick with you long after the show. Blending elements of rock, jazz, funk, and prog they are constantly shifting their sound live. They can go from dark intrepid jamming to light minimalist playing rather quickly. This year has been big for Zobomaze with festival slots at Sonic Bloom and Desert Rocks. Not to mention playing opening slots for bands like PRAANG, The Motet, North Indiana Allstars, and many more. It really is only a mater of time until the word spreads and these guys blow up. The sky is the limit for them in the future. Zobomaze’s energy is infectious as you can see in this a video of them performing Grass Is Greener at Cervante’s Other Side.
Willie Waldman Project/Banyan:
I met Willie Waldman in the summer of 2001. He was playing in WWP with bassist extraordinaire Rob Wasserman. Perhaps Willie’s best ability besides playing free-form jazz on his trumpet is assembling amazing lineups. In fact many times he will roll into a city with people he’s never played with and just bulldoze a crowd. Banyan is another beast all together. With a rotating lineup that includes Stephen Perkins, Nels Cline, Mike Watt, Rob Wasserman, and Clint Wagner they are simply a spectacle to behold. It’s also not uncommon to have Norton Wisdom live painting an illuminated mural in the background.
Willie is just fun. He combines elements of jazz, funk, and rock into his playing with an honest to goodness gift to jam with anyone. Also mainly instrumental in his shows he has the ability to find a groove and take it into the stratosphere. Willie and Banyan create sonic soundscapes that just build and build before exploding. Playing what Waldman refers to as “free jazz” an individual show can really take any shape. Relying heavily on audience energy the groove is just unbelievable. Another element is their willingness to play anywhere. From a hole in the wall, to a massive festival stage they always bring the energy. When I originally caught Willie Waldman Project their first set was over an hour and half and they stopped twice, their second set was pushing two hours without a pause. It was amazing to see jamming of that caliber and I’ve been a fan ever since. Give Banyan’s set from Summer Camp 2008 a listen to get a feel for what they can do.
Banyan Live at Moonshine Stage - SummerCamp on May 25, 2008.