TAUK-ing about Purple Hatter’s Ball

When you are addicted to music, it doesn’t do much good to go to an MA meeting (Music-aholics Anonymous), because everybody there is an enabler. “What? You haven’t been to a show in three whole days? Man, come with us!” See?

Music-aholics check jambase and Facebook (and MusicFestNews!) to hunt for that next show, or shows, or festival, or all of the above. On a business trip to Baltimore last year, I saw that TAUK was playing two dates within driving distance (always a flexible number, by the way). I knew nothing about them, but what I read sounded intriguing. Rock. Jazz Fusion. Yep. That’s me all over.

No matter what I thought I was prepared for, they absolutely blew me away, enough so that I made sure to catch them the next night, then again in Baltimore that summer, twice at Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival with a show at the Dunedin Brewery several nights before and two more at AURA Music and Arts Festival. Brother, I am hooked!

Imagine my disappointment, then to see that TAUK would be in Tampa – while I was at the Purple Hatter’s Ball at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak. I am so pumped to be going to my first Purple Hatter’s, but… And then came a great announcement! TAUK had been added to the PHB line-up. SCORE!

Not only that, but they play a show at the Social in Orlando on the Wednesday before PHB with Leisure Chief. To paraphrase Tony the Tiger, Life Is GRR-eat!

They travel to Florida after several monster days at Jazzfest. They will also play New Smyrna Beach and Boca Raton before heading back up the east coast.

Perhaps you don’t know what I’m TAUK-ing about (last bad pun, I swear). TAUK is a quartet out of Long Island. They label themselves very accurately as “heavy instrumental rock fusion.” Maybe you don’t know them now, but chances are you will by summer’s end. Consider this schedule of twelve festivals where they will perform: Colordance, Counterpoint, Summer Camp, Revival, Mad Tea Party (that’s the name, not an editorial comment), Electric Forest, All Good, Paradise, The Werk Out, Camp Barefoot, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, and Resonance. Did I mention they play Red Rocks July 3rd with Umphrey’s McGee? That, ladies and gentlemen, is exposure on a massive scale.

There was something very special about the jazz/rock fusion scene that emerged from the end of the 60s into the 70s. Miles Davis and Frank Zappa were in the forefront of the movement which spawned such iconic groups as Headhunters, Return to Forever, Weather Report, the Cobham-Duke Band, the Eleventh House and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

The members of TAUK have managed to distill the essence of that music and supercharge it with stunning musicianship, fiery presentation and 21st-century sensibilities. In concert, the performance is so riveting you have no option but to sit straight up and listen – or dance your ass off.

The engine driving the band is powered by bass and drums courtesy of Charlie Dolan and Isaac Teel. You might not notice Dolan at first; he’s a bit reserved compared to his band mates. Once you start paying attention to his monster bass lines, however, you can ignore that innocent look. He’s guilty, all right, of providing a great foundation for the music. Teel can be powerful and display his deft touch, all in the space of a few bars. He reminds me most of Alphonse Mouzon, but perhaps even more multidimensional.

Most importantly, Isaac Teel famously said: MUSIC IS THERAPY FOR LIFE. No argument from us music-aholics.

Matt Jalbert’s guitar can shoot out wicked flame-throwing chords and solos and then reel it all back in for a sweet passage. The whole band rocks, but Jalbert literally puts a face on it, gyrating, grimacing, smiling, making you feel every note.

The secret weapon is Alric “A.C.” Carter at the keyboards. Piano. Electric piano. Organ. Clavinet. Synthesizers. His many paintbrushes color the music in magical ways. Consider, for instance, the band’s cover of Zep’s “Immigrant Song.” Right where you expect Robert Plant’s high-pitched voice, out pops a perfect-sounding synthesizer to mimic the vocal. Because there aren’t any.

TAUK play this instrumental jazz/rock/heavy metal/fusion stuff with the best of them. Perhaps you’ve heard “In the Basement of the Alamo” from their 2013 album Homunculus, in heavy rotation on SiriusXM before the release of Collisions last year. “Mindshift” is another song getting deservedly heavy airplay.

TAUK play Uncle Charlie’s Porch Stage at the Purple Hatter’s Ball on Saturday evening. This is a must-see set. Just make sure you fasten your seatbelt first!


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