I was planning to go out elsewhere. Then I thought I’d stay home. Then Sulana reminded me that CopE and the Groove Orient were at Skipper’s Smokehouse.
I had the Clash playing inside my head.
Finally, I went with option [B] GO! Once again, this was the correct decision – times three.
(Hey, teachers! I could do this in five-paragraph TAFI form. And then vomit.)
My love of music festivals is abundantly archived, but there is one slight drawback: sometimes, a very good band gets lost in your memory because you are on sensory overload; your sponge is full. My first time with The Groove Orient out of Winter Park was at the recent Gov-Fest, but my paragraph about them was all too brief; their set just got swallowed up in the enormity of the festival. I was really looking forward to an opportunity to concentrate on them.
When I arrived (late, of course), The Groove Orient was rocking up a storm. They are rockers first and foremost, but they funk and jam just fine. For their next song, they called Dennis Stadelman of CopE to join them. Dennis has never met a sit-in he didn’t like… or nail. This one was a blast.
GO was working on tunes from their current EP Welcome to the Show and other songs in their repertoire. Harry Ong and Chuck Magid handled most of the vocal chores, and both have great rock’n’roll voices. The bass-and-drums combo of Ong and Paul Terry, with David Vanegas also on percussion, provided the music with great punch the entire set.
Magid was wearing an odd hat that you couldn’t help but notice, adding to the fun element of this well-received set. I was delighted when they jumped into “I’m the Slime.” It started out as the rocker Zappa created, but when the bluesy part came up, the Groove Orient really jazzed it up, a really nice innovative treatment.
They made a lot of new fans this evening, and that is something straight out of the CopE playbook: bring in an opening band that will match the energy and quality of the CopE-sters. Time and again this formula has worked, and it earned an A+ this time.
Speaking of CopE. This was my 30th CopE show (with a few Stadelman Brothers sightings thrown in for good measure). I am an unabashed fan, reasonably sure I could predict the next set.
And, once again, I would be WRONG. There was a delicious difference to this show compared to, say, their set at Hometeam New Year’s Rally. And perhaps that set was headed this direction, and I just missed it in (once again) the enormity of the festival. Whatever it was, I loved this iteration.
There was a very funky vibe to the show. Now CopE has always brought the funk, but this was even more so. Perhaps you should blame Juanjamon, because his band has just been funked up beyond belief. Maybe you should blame drummer Brad Elliott, whose time is so on the one. Or you could blame those Stadelman boys.
But we’re not playing the blame game, because this was a great show! Right out of the gate, the sound was just a little bit different. By the time they go to “See,” I also had a second thought. This show reminded me very much of the Grateful Dead – not the sound, but the feel and the structure. We were seeing a bluesy, jazzy side of CopE more than I remembered previously. Dennis acknowledged that the band’s sound was “more experimental.” And it was working.
“Babylon Man” was lit up. Juanjamon had a superb tenor solo, then led the groove into “Look Who’s Dancing,” then an organ solo, Kenny and Elliott in a sick funk rhythm jam, Juanjamon’s hip-hop part, back to “Look…” and finally back to “Babylon Man.” It was brilliant. Juanjamon also got outrageous with the EWI.
Next up was an instrumental tune they often use to open (and my brain cannot remember its name), but the playing this time was even more vibrant, practically on steroids (the playing, not the band!). “Family Still” was great.
And then it happened. CopE’s magnum opus is “Shake Anything” (love that Dos Equis meme) which usually goes like this: head of tune > awesome jam > Shakedown Street > back to head of tune. This time, there was no need – or room – for “Shakedown Street.” The jam was so, so very tight, and all four gentlemen were throwing the funk down so hard. In my notebook (heck, yeah, I take notes), I scribbled: UNREAL. 20 minutes plus of unreal awesomeness. As good as it gets.
Then we got to the encore portion of the program. I’ll bet you have mixed feelings about encores, too. On the one hand, you’d like to see them just a little bit longer. However, you know they cannot top that last sickness, nor should they try.
Wisely, CopE opted for a cool-down, “Going Home.” It was the perfect way to let everyone wind down from that incredible emotional peak. What a truly wonderful way to spend a Friday night!
Also, I just plain love Skipper’s Smokehouse!
Great to see Sulana, Winston, Chris, Marie and the SOS/BOS/Hometeam folks.