Over the summer MMW announced an all acoustic fall tour. I almost didn’t hear about this tour as no email was sent by the band and venues just buried it in their announcements. Fortunately I did hear about it and the last two shows of the tour were at the Kennedy Center and Rams Head On Stage. Like the show with John Scofield years ago at the 9:30 Club, I waited to long and missed tickets to the Kennedy show. So much for a mini tour.
As the show approached I was getting excited. These guys are my second favorite band and I have been seeing them for more than ten years now. They have this mix of jazz and funk that sucks you in. All the shows I have seen before have been electric so this was a change of pace. They have done this type of tour before back in ’97 I believe, well before my time seeing them live.
The Rams Head On Stage is a quite venue like the Birchmere in Alexandria. Like it, you can get food and drink at your table. Being a Fordham brewpub, I was looking forward to some micro beer and food. When I got there I had plenty of time to enjoy several styles of beers and eat dinner. Fortunately the Ravens were not playing so they had the Skins on.
Being assigned setting I walked in with five minutes to go before show time and took my seat. On the seating chart my seat looked good, in real life there were several posts that obscured my view. John was almost completely hidden from view and I could only see Chris if I moved my head way over. What was not a problem was listing to the band. The venue is small and sound envelopes the space. Billy on drums doesn’t need mics and John on the baby grand probably didn’t have a mic either. Chris on bass may have needed it but I can’t be sure. No other show I have seen from them has been like that.
They started a little late, playing by my calculation just four songs in the first set. The music flowed together real well so it was hard to tell the transitions. I would guess a lot of improv during that first set.
After a short intermission it was onto set two for the night. I was only expecting one, set getting two was extra special. The second set started acoustic but quickly Chris put down the upright bass and grabbed his electric. The second set had a few songs I recognized including a cover of Suspicious Mind made famous by Elvis, which I have never heard them do.
After the encore the show was over just before eleven. This might sound early but it was a school night and I had a long drive ahead of me. I thought about staying to say hello to the band or even getting one last beer, I decided sleep was more important. I didn’t get home till almost one that nigh and went right to bed. These old bones can’t party like I use to.
It was a great performance by the guys in an intimate venue I have never seen them play before. The combination of a brewpub with good food and a quite venue made for a magical evening. I hope they come back to Rams Head On Stage, or better yet, The Birchmere in Alexandria.
Set 1 (start 8:13pm)
1. improv >
2. Illmoan (w/ Drum + Bass Solos)
3. “Melodiccordian Shuffle”*
4. What’d I Say (w/ Bass + Drum Solos)
ends at 9:07pm
Set 2 (starts at 9:39pm)
1. “Fall River Blues”
2. piano solo > “Piano/Bass Chase” > Sand
3. Amber Gris
4. Ballade In C Minor, ‘Vergessene Seelen’+
5. Suspicious Minds
ends at 10:42pm
encore (starts at 10:45pm)
6. Swamp Road
show over at 10:54pm
* John on Claviola
+ John on Bamboo Sax