HI. I’M SCOTT. Hi, Scott! I’M A MUSIC-AHOLIC. IT’S BEEN TWO WHOLE DAYS SINCE I WENT TO A SHOW. What? You need a fix! We’ll take you to a show right now!
See? That’s the problem with Music-aHolics Anonymous. Everybody’s an enabler!
But I just can’t help myself (hey, that would make a good song title! Oh.). I knew I would be in the Baltimore-DC area, away from the (relatively) warm Florida weather. So I casually explored jambase, just to see, you know, if there was anything… interesting.
I saw nothing immediately, but the name Tauk popped up. I had seen that name before, but that’s all I knew. I looked up their site, hit soundcloud, and WHAM! Just to be sure, I ordered “Homunculus” and “Pull Factors,” their two recent CDs. CD player seems to be stuck on repeat – can’t get them out of the player! And I saw they would be in Georgetown. And then I noticed they would also be in Essex. And I could make both nights!
We’ll Tauk later. First, the openers. I arrived too late to see PBR on Friday. Baltimore’s Deaf Scene was second on the bill this night – makes sense. PBR got the second slot at Gypsy Sally’s; somebody’s on the ball. The Circuit is a nice little club with owners willing to put on shows that “our kind” likes.
A list of adjectives popped into my brain listening to Deaf Scene, in no particular order. Dynamic. Spacy. Enthusiastic. Uncompromising. Trippy. Psychedelic. Fun. This was a power trio, although you would swear at times there was a keyboard player as well. Guitarist Dave Fullerton got great effects from his various pedals and shredded with abandon and glee. This was a no-holds-barred performance, and Saturday’s was just as adventurous and enjoyable. Fullerton, bassist Eric Courtney and recent addition Brett Schatz at the drum kit got great audience response both nights, appreciation for their strong, original sets.
People’s Blues of Richmond didn’t strike my fancy at first. They had fine musical chops, but the tunes early in Saturday’s set just didn’t light that spark for me. As the set progressed, they started to reel me in, and an excellent cover of the second half of “Soul Sacrifice” certainly didn’t hurt. They were wildly enthusiastic the entire set, and the electricity passed back and forth between the band and the crowd. I’d say my opinion was in the minority, because the DC-Virginia crowd was raucously appreciative. I am glad I saw them and would certainly hear them again.
OK. Can we Tauk? I knew heading to the show Friday that I was going to love this quartet. I just had no idea how much. I hear them gliding back and forth on a continuum from Return to Forever, the Cobham-Duke Band and Mahavishnus to Particle, Lotus and Garaj Mahal. Look: I’m not fond of comparisons, but it gives you some idea about the majestic sounds they produce. The Friday show was a knock-out, and every member of the quartet was wonderfully showcased.
The show at Gypsy Sally’s was Friday’s show on steroids. Maybe it was the vibe of Gypsy Sally’s, a wonderful upstairs club with excellent sound (great job, house guy), plenty of room for the crowd standing in front and for those sitting in the raised dining area. Maybe it was the near-packed house on a Saturday in Georgetown. Maybe it was two electric performances before theirs and a great time the night before with all three bands. Take your pick.
There was electricity in the air from the moment Tauk hit the stage. Even the relatively calm beginning of “Carpentino’s Rebirth” crackled with an intangible something. (And thanks to Elise’s review online in “Appalachian Jamwich” for the setlist!) The first true tip-off occurred during “Afro Tonic” when keyboard player Alric Carter began hammering his clavinet and organ with fusion abandon (that word again). Matt Jalbert appears to enjoy every note he plays, but this night his was a look of ecstacy. After a Radiohead cover and another tune, Matt welcomed to the stage Ron Holloway! They rocked us all with a cover of the Kill Bill theme, “Battle without Honor of Humanity.”
A quick aside about Ron Holloway. The first time I saw him was at the Wanee Festival in 2007. He came out the first night with the Allman Brothers to blow a masterful “Desdemona.” The second night, however, they brought him on for “Liz Reed.” I was thinking: there is NO way a saxophone player is going to hang with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks on this song. Was I ever wrong! Since then, I’ve seen him a dozen or more times, AND I discovered he was the sax man in my beloved Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band (with the Root-ettes). He can do ANYTHING.
Ron and Tauk just blew the place up! Then the quartet, powered by Isaac Teel’s athletic and on-the-one drums and the bass of Charlie Dolan, played half a dozen more tunes before closing with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy.” It was incredible! What a great 90-minute set. I was ready to pack up when Jalbert said, “We’re taking a 15-minute break.” More? My mind was already blown. Might as well hang and let them scatter the little pieces.
They did. Ron Holloway again joined them for a monstrous “”The Chemist” and again drew near-riotous crowd response. After several more tunes, they got to a cover of “Immigrant Song.” Now I had seen them do this mid-set the night before, so I knew where it was going. No matter how great I thought the Friday version was, this one was exponentially more amazing. They started out with “Immigrant Song,” with Carter mimicking the vocals on synthesizer. Then there was a Return to Forever-type passage, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, came “Jungle Boogie,” Metallica-style, then back and forth with “Immigrant Song.” WOW!
And then there was the Facecrack photo of all the bands with the crazies on the floor behind them. Now THAT’S what I’d call a perfect night!