This week, let's check out some videos of the Mike Dillon Band, who will be in St. Louis to play on Thursday, June 27 at The Demo.
The group features Dillon on vibraphone, percussion and vocals, Carly Meyers on trombone and bass pedals, Cliff Hines on guitar, bass and keyboards, and Adam Gertner on drums. They played here most recently back in February, when they opened for Umphrey's McGee at The Pageant.
Dillon, a prolific collaborator and relentless live performer, also has played St. Louis in recent years with both Garage A Trois and The Dead Kenny Gs, and the MDB shares to an certain extent what might be called the punk/jazz" sensibility of those two bands.
All three are high-energy, generally high-volume ensembles that rely most on driving, danceable rhythms with occasional quiet interludes and/or bursts of odd time signatures. In addition, given the MDB's trombone and mallet percussion; frequent use of fast, angular unison melodies; and penchant for cryptic or tongue-in-cheek song titles, some listeners of a certain age might be tempted to use the adjective Zappaesque" to describe their music.
That impression is further reinforced visually by Meyers, whose interpretive-dance stage moves seem like they'd fit right in next to those of famously rubber-legged former FZ sideman Napoleon Murphy Brock and Zappa Plays Zappa keyboardist/saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez.
Though Dillon has recorded extensively with a number of different bands, his 2012 solo album Um seems to be the source of much of the MDB's current live repertoire. And while comparisons can be useful as shorthand or a starting point, there's really no substitute for actually hearing the music. So, let's get to that...
The first video up above is of a tune called Hafta" and was recorded right here in St. Louis in the studios of KDHX (88.1 FM) during Dillon's last visit here in February.
Down below are two songs, DVS" and Ding Dong (The Party's Over)," recorded in September 2012 at Mezo's Juke Joint in Ocean Springs, MS. Below that is a version of Lunatic Express" captured in May of last year at Keg Lounge in Orange Beach, AL.
The fifth clip, date and place of origin unknown, features a tune called Harris Harris County." The sixth video is of a tune called Omar," recorded at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, with New Orleans native (and Dillon's fellow Garage A Trois member) Stanton Moore sitting in for Gertner on drums.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.