One of the main reasons to be in a band (apart from the money and the girls, of course) is the opportunity to travel and play gigs in interesting places. As our friend Dave Grant used to put it, to go drinking in different languages.
Jodie Foster’s loss is Bill Gates’ gain when Big Ray and the Kool Kats play New Year’s Eve in Big Sky, Montana.
Big Ray and the Kool Kats, after four years of playing New Year’s Eve at The Homestead, decided to see what other gigs might be out there. The band said no to a party in the Caribbean that was being hosted by Jodie Foster (the same), and instead will play at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana. Bill Gates was one of the founding members of the resort, and it is rumored to be so exclusive that, once accepted, members pony up a million-dollar fee. The Kool Kats have spent the last 10 years building up their reputation, and they have backed many singers, from Michael Feinstein to Liza Minnelli. This month, they also played a gig in Louisville, Kentucky, and they seem to have developed a regular gig at The Nantucket Yacht Club.
Despite the big name locales, most of the musicians have kept their day jobs. “Big Ray” Caddell, (easily one of the nicest guys in town) maintains his real estate office, and bassist Dave Hudson works in the provost’s office at UVA. Drummer Dave Pittman, who once toured with Disney on Ice, is the North American tour manager for that group.
Despite the full schedule with Big Ray, saxophonist Michael Elswick is booking gigs around town with his own jazz quartet and trio. The Kool Kats’ alto and baritone sax player plays tenor and soprano in his own band, which is made up of drummer Stan McMullen, bassist Bob Bowen, and Tom Harbeck (“one of the best guitarists I’ve heard” according to Elswick). The bandleader says that his goal is to be really melodic and give the tunes the best treatment possible. The trio, without drums, will be playing at Fellini’s #9, maybe on Wednesday, December 13, and definitely on December 28.
Also new on the scene and waiting to hear from a certain Canadian band’s lawyer, The Kowboy Monkeys are playing at Uncle Charlie’s in Crozet as part of a new Thursday night series to showcase original acoustic music. The band is made up of two members of The Mando Mafia, Pete Marshall and Rick Friend, old-time music ho Joey Damiano (who is a great bass player and a fine singer), and mandolin dynamo (and ex Swingin’ Johnson) TJ Johnson. The band has gigged once, at the Democratic party victory celebration in Staunton, and should be worth hearing for the musical chemistry alone. Marshall says that the band is playing some tunes from the Mafia repertoire, and a bunch of new originals.
Marshall says that Mando Mafia members have been hoping to put out another recording, and he has also been spending time archiving tunes from recordings of the much-missed Kelly Perdue: “He was always sharing his mandolin knowledge.” Marshall has been particularly interested in a tape of 67 fiddle tunes, played on the mandolin, which Perdue was most likely making for an aspiring old-time student.
How you gonna get them to play at home once they’ve seen Paree? Joe Lawlor returns from his DMB gigs and a Euro tour with Cracker to play with Friends, Egypt and X-Porn Stars this month.
And, a very popular musician who does not play in town often enough has put together a band, Joe Lawlor and Friends, for a show at Orbit on the Corner December 6. The founding member of Egypt and current DMB live recording engineer will be joined by Andy Waldeck, Ezra Hamilton, and drummer Nate Brown, who is just back from a European tour with Cracker. Lawlor and Friends play his originals, plus a mix of “funk and soul covers that we all love and Ezra can sing the hell out of.”
Lawlor will also open the show playing slide guitar with DMB crew chief Lonnie Quinn. Lawlor and Quinn, a.k.a. LQ, play open mics in whatever city they find themselves in when DMB has the night off. Boyd Tinsley has been known to sit in. Get there early.