Monday, March 30, 2009


I went to see Will Bernard and his insanely funky bandmates at the Highline Ballroom on Thursday. Simply put, it was hot shit! I wrote about Bernard's excellent new record, "Blue Plate Special," back in September. Here's what I said:

"Bay Area guitarist Will Bernard has played with people as diverse as avant-garde saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum to hip hop band The Coup. Most recently he has been part of Galactic drummer Stanton Moore's trio, whose two releases on the Telarc label, "III," and "Emphasis (on Parenthesis)" contain some of the baddest badass grooves this side of Funky Town. On "BLUE PLATE SPECIAL," Bernard enlists Moore for the backbeat along with John Medeski and Andy Hess for a record that absolutely sizzles. From the slinky groove of the opener "Baby Goats," to the space age, James Brown funk of "Blister" to the sweet and soulful take on "How Great Thou Art" which closes the album, these 4 musicians show off, but never lose touch of the melody. Bernard is a player with finesse, never getting carried away with his instrument, always allowing space for the musicians to interact. And that's what you will hear on this very unique collection of songs. Should be clever enough for serious jazz-bos and thanks to Stanton Moore's impossible drumming, "Blue Plate Special" will keep you moving."

That pretty much sums up the performance, as well. I realize there is a "fear of jam bands" that so many suffer from, that potential dread of never-ending head-bobbing, dude-calling, and hacky-sack. But these four guys are seasoned vets, with so much music under their belts, it never feels as if they will lose their way. Remember The Meters? Bernard's original tunes all have memorable melodies, so when the band locks in, they lock in on more than just a groove. Of course, as a drummer, when I watch Stanton Moore, the other band members might as well be The Shaggs. Whether he likes it or not, Moore becomes the star of the show, regardless of whose name is in lights on the marquee.

Here is a zip of a few tunes from a few nights earlier in Denver. Listen for yourself. I took the pics. Those are from Thursday.


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