Hometeam New Year’s Rally | Maddox Ranch 2013

This can only count as a partial – and very partial – review of the wonderful Hometeam New Year’s Rally the past four days. It is partial because I only made it to the ranch for parts of two days, and I went to see bands I am partial to.

The Maddox ranch is a great place for a small festival such as this: great setting, easy access, superb vibe, plenty of port-o-pottys! And I LOVE the Free-Lovin’ Foodery folks! The Hometeam crew gets better and better with each outing (and more are on the way!). The only glitch I could detect was that I assumed (always a dangerous proposition) that music would switch back and forth from the older original stage to the newer one. However, that was not happening Friday or Sunday, which pushed the schedule back upwards of an hour or more as the day went on.

FRIDAY 12.27.13

I arrived Friday in time to catch the end of the Serotonic set. (Full disclosure: I like them so much I had them play my daughter’s wedding last year.) They sounded great, and the crowd response was very warm and gratifying. They bring the jazz and the funk big and bright. Then it was a quick clear-the-stage and set-up-next-band.

This was my sixth Savi Fernandez Band show. I’ve seen them twice in the past month, including a tremendous show with Cope at Skipper’s. For me, this set was on a new astral plane. The boys were on fire from the very start, and they hit a couple of jams that were just superb. Deep. Sick. Put your adjective here. Just plain WOW! I was just praying that somebody was recording, but… probably not.

After the Savi blow-out, music switched to the old stage from music from Simply Abigail, an acoustic quartet. As best I remember, Abigail was playing guitar, as were two bandmates. Interestingly, the one acoustic guitar on the left played like a bass (bass strings?); very cool effect. And the fourth member played the drum-box-seat thing (I’m sure it has a real name). Their first set was pleasant. The second set (after Between Bluffs performed) was excellent. Abigail is a talented singer, and the songs were compelling.

After experiences at Bear Creek and elsewhere, I know to prepare myself for the unexpected, meaning bands I know nothing about. But I still was not prepared for the great set by Between Bluffs (from Dunedin?). It was a rocking good time, the audience fully engaged, and the music had a great bite to it. I know that’s not very helpful, but there was an interesting angularity to the sound. I dug it, OK?

In fact, on Sunday, Chris Sgammato of Displace greeted the crowd as they took the stage with this: “How many of you have been here since Thursday? Serotonic and Between Bluffs stole Hometeam. If you were here, you know what I’m talking about.” High praise from a fellow musician.

After the aforementioned second Simply Abigail set (and maybe that is supposed to be Simply.Abigail), it was time for the heroes of Thursday nights at Skipper’s, Uncle John’s Band. My brain isn’t working well enough right now to remember what they played, but it was a very inspired set. If I could offer one tiny piece of advice, I’d say: take “Shakedown Street” the disco route. It’s all about the drum approach, I think. (In fact, the next day I heard one of those from ’83 on the Grateful Dead channel.)

At this point, it was nearly 10:30, and Green Sunshine was just getting set up. That meant that Cope would not hit until well after midnight. Shame on me for not staying for Kenny’s birthday shout-out, but I forgot my 5-Hour energy drink, and I’m just not a GS fan. Great musicians, just not my thing. I drove back to Brandon.

SUNDAY 12.29.13

I had hoped to get Linda out for Sunday, but the weather was miserable (and worse in Brandon, where it monsooned). So I headed out in time to see the Free Range Roosters put on a joyous performance. They and the crowd were all having a blast. The mandolin player stood out for me.

Then it was time for Displace. The quartet tore right into “Hillsborough River Rapids,” a very Zappa-esque tune. Their hour set featured four (or five?) great jammed-out tunes. Interesting in this setting was that guitar and sax whiz Chris Sgammato was without effects pedals and without electric guitar, but that did not detract at all from the set (although Chris’s acoustic guitar was too low in the mix). It did give Sam Dobkin a chance to step out even more on guitar, and he embraced the opportunity and crushed it. Vinny Svobodo on bass and drummer Tucker Sody provided the jet propulsion.

After a quick turnaround, it was time for Jacksonville’s Corbitt Brothers, who seemed truly thrilled to be part of the Hometeam effort. Picture guitar, drums and harmonica. Isaac Corbitt does things with his harmonica that make you pay attention. You swear there is a bass player. And an organ player. And, and, something else. I would never have pictured such a full sound from this trio. And these boys are Fun with a capital F. Then they brought up Kenny Harvey from Holey Miss Moley on bass, and the fun got… funner! And then Tony Tyler from Come Back Alice came up (yes, I am REALLY sorry I missed the Come Back Alice set Saturday with Savi and everybody on stage! I’ve seen the photo evidence!). Newsome Corbitt handed his guitar to Tony, and they blasted “One Way Out” to infinity and beyond.

Holey Miss Moley did the quick turnaround thing and immediately kept the fun, funky vibe alive with “Naugatuck” (I think!). It was also a chance to see Christian Ryan, a superb alto player now attending Berklee College of Music. HMM features some great original tunes and did a nice cover of “Liz Reed.” Then Tony Tyler jumped back on stage and a vocalist (name??) did as well for a strong take on “Whippin’ Post.” Holey Miss Moley is a very funky sextet, anchored by Kenny Harvey on bass, Chuck McIntire on keys (and alto sax!), and Jacob Cox on chunky, funky lead guitar. I’ll admit my favorite is their cover of “Ain’t No Use.” WOW!

At this point, I was wet enough and cold enough that I bailed. Apologies to shoeless soul and all the other bands I missed. Next time, I promise!

Thanks, Hometeam. We are so fortunate to have so much incredible music so near to home and so many people willing to help bring it to us. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.



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