Recent memory trumps (sorry – think of bridge or something) older memory; I know that. And it is so difficult, with all of the incredible music we have on the scene, to say with definitude what were our favorites or the “best” shows you’ve ever attended.
So I will fall back on two of my go-to mantras: Never heard a better set of music, and As good as it gets.
Both of those apply to the Joe Marcinek Band performance at the Dunedin Brewery Spring Beer Jam on Saturday, March 24th. Marcinek, as we have often chronicled, has a habit of bringing together A-list musicians for a weekend or two of shows, and he does this all over the country (but we are delighted the Hoosier loves Florida).
For this band, Marcinek (guitar and vocals), recruited some regulars and one new to us. He tapped Steve Molitz (Particle) on keyboards and vocals and Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident) on drums and vocals, and our Hometeam hero Juanjamon (The Juanjamon Band) was there, too, on tenor sax and vocals. The relative newcomer to the Marcinek universe was Al Ingram, better know as Al Al, bass player for Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band.
Also joining the group was “Jimmy Jams” Rector on percussion. Rector had just been feted the night before at Skipper’s Smokehouse for his 26th birthday and in celebration of his outstanding graphic art (more than two dozen of his concert posters and other works were on display). Rector is a member of both bands that played Friday: Come Back Alice and Joose. His actual birthday was Saturday, and so was Marcinek’s, so this was a double celebration.
They slammed immediately into “George Washington,” the track from Marcinek’s new album Slink that was, for me, the best song of 2016, regardless of genre. This one took at least 15 minutes to give everybody plenty of solo space. Marcinek, Molitz, Juanjamon and Ingram all shone brightly.
Another Marcinek original, “Life Love and Rhythm,” followed, with lots of space again. This is the model he likes to set up, and it is obvious why so many musicians are eager to join him for a series of shows.
We really got to meet Al Al on “Nah Brah,” a Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band tune. He bass playing is deep, deep funk, and he was a fine singer as well. A trombone player (Steve McCallum) materialized and jumped into the fray, and things got even funkier.
Next up, they featured Molitz on a Particle tune. We’ve seen them play “Launchpad” before, but this time they tore up “Metropolis,” inviting Brewery proprietor Michael Lyn Bryant on stage to twirl some synthesizer knobs. It was grand. After the heavy jamtronica, the horns chimed in, taking the tune in a new direction, which went even further as Nook jumped up to add some hip hop lyrics to the mix.
Now there was more activity on stage, as Hann moved to percussion as Michael ‘Thunderfoot’ Garrie (Juanjamon Band) sat at kit, and Jim Wuest took over the keyboards for Marcinek’s “Hyperbole.” Wuest is from The Heavy Pets, the band doing a four-day residency during the Spring Beer Jam. Yes, of course it was killer.
The courtyard was slammed, jammed with dancers and head-bobbers alike, and there was great response to every song of both sets. It was clear everyone was deep in the groove. Marcinek concurred. The band had done two night at The Green Parrot in Key West (Wednesday and Thursday) and a Friday show in Ft. Lauderdale, but he and Molitz both said this was by far the best audience response of the run (and it wasn’t just the beer).
Set two began with Rector back on percussion and two of his Come Back Alice bandmates on stage: Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris on, well, you can probably guess, and Tony Tyler on keyboards. They proceeded to throw down a nasty “Shaky Ground,” with Al Al, Tony and Marcinek on vocals.
And then it happened. If you needed to distill the entire evening into one 20-minute segment (it was at least that long, my brain says), it would be “Launchpad,” the Particle tune that followed. Like “Metropolis,” “Launchpad” in it original form is more jamtronic goodness with Molitz all over his command console of keyboards. With Al Al pushing at a wickedly funky pace, this was absolutely superb, Marcinek so funky chunky on his guitar. Hann and Al Al were perfectly intertwined. If that’s all we got, it would have been magnificent. As Juanjamon and McCallum chimed in, however, the tune began to morph into a ridiculously funk thing, and it spiraled out of control, spilling funk on everybody there. Impressed as we were with Al Al before, he went stratospheric on this one. Serious funk. Uncut funk. THE BOMB.
The only thing I managed to write in my notebook was: STUNNING.
And it was.
It was necessary to back off the pace a little bit, and the band did so with a Meters-inspired song from Slink titled “Holtsford.” It allowed everyone to recover — slightly — before the next wickedness about to unleash.
Suddenly, we were plunged into deep funk, instantly immersing us all again. And what emerged was… “(I’m Your) Boogie Man!” Hann was singing, with plenty of backup. Molitz got down deep in the funk, clavinet blazing, and then Hann had a rap in the middle of the tune. The energy surging back and forth from band to crowd was intense.
They closed with a ballad, introduced by Al Al’s bass. He also handled the vocals on the Red Hot Chili Peppers tune.
When it was finished, the crowd roared, aware of the magnificence that had just washed over us.
Joe Marcinek is THE MAN!
[SET 1: George Washington, Love Life and Rhythm, Nah Brah, Metropolis, Hyperbole; SET 2: Shaky Ground, Launchpad, Holtsford, Boogie Man, RHCP song]