Thursday, July 9, 2009
Jamming And Taking Names; They Are Once Again
I saw Once Again, a very ambitious trio of 16 year old musicians, perform at Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village on Tuesday night and if what I witnessed was an early sign of things to come, this band is poised to start wowing the big time.
Yes, it was easy to get lost in the fact that keyboardist Dylan Maida, guitarist Kadin Wisniewski and drummer Dana Shepherd are just 16 years old. You sit and wait for them to suck. As a matter of fact, that sentiment has become a bit of a running joke and possible band motto: "We're Once Again and we promise we won't suck."
Well, they kept their promise. They didn't suck. But more than that, these young phenoms impressed in ways where age should matter.
Drawing from styles influenced by the daring jam improv of such bands as Medeski, Martin, & Wood and Benevento-Russo, Once Again never drifted into repetition the way so many jam bands do. They are very aware of the necessity for melody, and each of their original songs is not just an exercise in showing off, but truly musical. (The band also cites The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd as influences. And I'll be damned if you can't hear it all.)
The band offers tight grooves on original tunes such as "Shelter Puppies" and "First Song," as well as some loose chaos on "Gatorade," a song where Kadin Wisniewski's guitar playing showed signs of the avant-garde, leaving some space like Bill Frisell, then tearing it up like Sonny Sharrock. Dylan Maida's organ never fails to get the melody across, and without a bass player, it is also up to Maida keep the bottom in place, which he does solidly for Dana Shepherd, the drummer who plays hard and heavy the way a groovemaster should, yet whose speed is jaw-dropping, playing as if he had 4 hands and two feet. Have I pointed out that they are 16 years old? (I should also point out that Dana made me want to sell my drumsticks and take up basket weaving.)
Once Again still has a way to go. But for now, to see and hear such young musicians play and arrange original tunes in such daring ways, gives me hope and confidence that what I heard on Tuesday night was hardly novelty. Once Again is the real thing.
Their My Space page is HERE, but I suggest seeing them live. That's where it counts!