Seriously, you should probably stop reading now. I am so overstuffed with Thanksgiving hyperbole that this is likely to be chock-full of superlatives. Piled high.
OK. But I warned you.
When I saw CopE open for Kung Fu in September, I thought it was – for me – their best show ever. In October, the Stadelman Brothers had a romp with Come Back Alice, and then CopE reached even higher with their blistering Bear Creek rager two weeks ago. They couldn’t top THAT, could they?
Well, yes, actually. Saturday at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, CopE came out swinging so hard it felt like running into a Mack truck. For two solid hours, the CopE boys demonstrated why they belong in the national conversation. This was a stunning performance. A soundboard should surface – soon, I hope.
Those who have seen CopE, and that includes many who saw them for the first time at Bear Creek, know how extremely talented the three core members of the band are. Dennis Stadelman is vastly underrated as a guitar slinger, Kenny Stadelman is a monster on bass, and Juanjumon is a triple threat on tenor sax, keyboards and vocals. And then there is the secret sauce. New member Michael Garrie is, apparently, the happiest, most manic drummer on the planet. My Bear Creek comment: CopE used to run on jet fuel. Now they run on rocket fuel!
Everything they touched all night worked like magic. When they brought Savi Fernandez on stage for the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine,” I thought to myself, “meh.” WRONG. They blew the thing up, with Dennis and Savi eventually trading back and forth, then playing in unison. WOW! The boisterous crowd hung on every note all night.
And speaking of Savi Fernandez Band, their opening set was the best I’ve ever heard from them, too. Reggae? Ska? Funk? Rock? Whatever, it was awesome. Juanjamon graced the stage for at least half a dozen tunes; he meshes so well with Savi. And Savi’s guitar chops are huge. And Savi’s new special sauce? Bass player Curtis (last name??)! About 40 minutes into the set, it struck me how far up he was lifting the sound with his bass. I’m hoping the soundboard for this one surfaces, too.
Look for the soundboards, but more importantly check all of these folks out live. That’s what it’s all about. Not the Hokey Pokey.