Asher Fulero Band 9.14.17

Goodfoot Pub & Lounge
Portland, OR

Words by Mitch Melheim
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media

Portland keyboard wizard, Asher Fulero, is a man of many projects. Just last month, he headlined the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre with Emancipator Ensemble. The month before that, he played the role of Rick Wright during Yonder Mountain String Band’s performance of Pink Floyd’s Meddle at Northwest String Summit. Now, we find him playing at the Goodfoot with his band, Asher Fulero Band, just days before his downtempo electronic alias, Halo Refuser, is scheduled to play a bill with livetronica pioneer Jojo Mayer and Nerve.

Asher Fulero Band (AFB) is a bit of a supergroup in the Portland scene. Bassist, Brett McConnell, has made a name for himself with Shafty and with his own band, the Brett McConnell Lovetet, who have opened for Medeski Martin & Wood and are slated to play the Goodfoot just a few days after this show. Guitarists Darvey Santner (Goodfoot All-Stars) and Nathan Day (Foster’s Kids) are also both well-known amongst locals, just like drummer Murray Gusseck (Fresh Track, Emulator) whose versatility on the kit has proven to be a bright spot for any band he’s played with.

The band’s sound is heavy on both improvisation and funk, but branches out to touch on elements of jazz-fusion and progressive rock as well. The funk and jam led this one off, opening with Phish’s “Sand” and ironically highlighting Fulero’s keys rather than either of the band’s two guitarists for the typically guitar-laden tune.

Yak Attack’s Dave Dernovsek joined the band on the Goodfoot’s house organ for “Piece,” a dangerously funky AFB original that eventually gave way to “Launchpad.” One of my favorite songs in their catalogue, “Launchpad” gives McConnell a much-needed platform to impress with his exceptional talent on bass. Regularly stretching well past the ten minute mark, this jam was no different as it explored multiple themes before settling on a spacey trance jam that peaked with Fulero’s keys and some exceptional fills and cymbal work from Gusseck that were more akin to what you’d expect to hear from a drum & bass DJ, rather than a jam band drummer.

To round out the first set, they touched on both a blues tune and a jazzy instrumental, further proving their versatility. Day brought out the acoustic guitar to begin the second set and added a much-appreciated and unique sound to the band, especially when matched up alongside Santner’s electric. This was one of the rare times Day gets to display his exceptional talent as a lead guitarist and I find myself a little shocked each time, mainly because I’m so used to him always playing to the music, which is typically his role in AFB.

Local keyboardist, Tom Morrison, joined the band for “Get It,” another original. This tune sort of reminds me of the way that Phish plays “2001,” with its rather simple riff that is made brilliant by the filthy funk in between it’s main phrases. After a rather exploratory second set, they opted to close the show with a cover of Frank Zappa’s “I am the Slime,” whose familiarity proved to be an effective closer and initiated the most fun sing-along of the night.


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