Monday, August 20, 2007

Wagons Jivin' and Ramblin' on the Gravel

I guess if the four bands I am set to speak about ever made a combined album, this could be the name. And the album would be almost as eclectic as the "Made In Vermont" CD that Cabot Cheese sponsored a few years back.

I headed off to the Lincoln Inn with freelance drummer Mitch and we enjoyed the pre-music Business After Hours networking where I ran into a former co-worker and musician who used to play in the band The Mansfield Project and who was playing with the Blues Night band of the evening, Jive Attic. I must say I wish some of these bands had websites, and Jive Attic is certainly worthy of one! I do believe however, they are playing at the Burlington Blues Fest at the Lincoln Inn in September. Jive Attic was great! Mitch and I got in some dancing and even snuck in a little air guitar activity - one of our secret favorite pastimes.

While enjoying some good classic blues from the band, we did have an entertaining run-in with Rick from Rick and the Ramblers. Known for their awesome tour bus and fun concerts at one of my favorites - Vermont State Parks, I now have it a mission to try to catch a show before they go into hibernation mode.

While we were contemplating our next move - do we (a) go home, (b) go downtown, or (c) find more cool music that's NOT downtown (by far the favorite choice) NOTE - Jive Attic had finished by this point; we started up a conversation with a new-to-town bass player soon to be joined by the Funk Wagon bunch. Of course I searched around for a way to lead readers to Funk Wagon as they seem like a fun band, but only found they have some upcoming shows at the Lincoln Inn and Nectars - maybe I'll see ya there? After we safely secured the bass player into Funky conversation with the Wagon, we departed for a last stop on our localvore musical journey.

As we headed back into town, but not wanting to go downtown, we both densely did the "duh" thing - The Monkey Bar - duh. So to Winooski we went. The bar was almost empty - usually a tell tale sign to me that a really good band is playing since so may Chittenden County dwellahs either (a) think good music is 80's night at Metronome or (b) care more about being "cool," "hip," or "seen," than really interested in seeing good music.

We got a beer and acclimated ourselves to the bar stools, where I was completely drawn in. The band's name is Gravel and they sure had some gravely jazz to play. The guitar player moved and pulsated with smiles that came at different junctures and transitions as he played one of those fantastic looking jazz guitars. The bass player pounded that stand-up with fervor, which may have been taller than him. The front fellow - an athletic looking chap with a variety of instruments - the most focal being the trumpet with a collection of mutes - was enigmatic and exciting to watch. Gravel played like an enthusiastic jazz quartet of professionals - probably because that's what they are. No whiny faces because the audience was slim and they were truly appreciative when the small audience treated them as a jazz quartet - clapping enthusiastically between solos.

Now, you may wonder why I did not mention the drummer. First, I must give my drummer background:
1.) Of all musicians I have dated in my 31 years, drummers certainly outweigh everyone else by a long shot - including my blogging and real life sidekick.
2.) Rhythm has always been something I have no immediate natural flare for, but once taught, comes easily.
3.) Drummers are always what I pay attention to the least for some reason. Not because I do not like drummers (obviously I do), but because I listen to the vocal harmonies as a singer, the bass as a seeker of harmonies, and watch the guitar as an accomplished air guitarist.
4.) When I was in a band in town a few years back called Ekis, I found the drummer to be extremely helpful in teaching me different rhythms and what percussion instruments to play. And, since I was committed to the concept of groupies while in the band, I was able to form a great friendship with this drummer (an he had/has a beautiful wife -).
Now, just as fantastic co-worker friendships fizzle when ones leaves the place of work, so do band friendships. That of course is life. So, while I was sitting at The Monkey Bar, thoroughly enjoying this band called Gravel, and not really paying attention to the drummer, Mitch says, "That drummer is phenomenal!" and I start to pay attention. Then I say, "wow, he really reminds me of the drummer in the band I sang in back in the day." I started doing the squinty eyes (even though I was wearing my glasses) and at the next song break, the drummer and I lock eyes and call out names of recognition! It certainly was, Matt DeLuca (2nd from right in pic), a truly great drummer in the area who I most recently saw play with his long-standing experimental jazz group, Leon Tubbs, after we finished playing together in Ekis. We got to catch up after the show and made plans to hopefully grab our other Burlington based former bandmate, bass player Jeff Margolis, for some lunch (by the way, Jeff's got some musical tricks up his sleeve I'll be sure to blog about this fall - so keep tuning in.)

Funny how the world works, eh? Guess I better start paying attention to all musicians in a band if I'm gonna write 'em up in my blog, or maybe not. Guess that's the beauty of being a writer!


Matt said...


Glad you enjoyed the show. It was great seeing you!!

We're back at The Monkey on Friday, Sept 7th. Hope to see you there...

Take care,

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