January 22nd, 2010
As with so many of the acts I've already written about for the Year Long Music Binge, I was unfamiliar with both bands on tonight's bill at Jammin Java. Lucky for me, I've had the good fortune of stumbling upon some pretty good ones over the course of the past six months or so (wow, have I really been at this that long already?). Maybe when I'm finished I'll share some of my tried and true methods for picking and choosing my weekly music fix, particularly when there's nothing that looks familiar in the local listings (or worse...when the show you intended to see is sold out!). At any rate, this week was another good one for the Binge...read on!
Adam Ezra Group
The Adam Ezra Group, which not surprisingly features the band's namesake on vocals and guitar, hails from Boston, MA and plays a folksy blend of good old American roots rock. Throughout the band's set at Jammin Java on Saturday night, Adam was sure to introduce each of his band members, giving them an opportunity to perform little mini-solos on their respective instruments. Passing on that information to you, the band includes Josh Gold on keys, Robin Vincent Soper on bass, a guy who goes by the name Turtle (which seems oddly appropriate) on percussion and touring drummer Chappy.
The pseudo hippie/jam band feel was accentuated by Adam's gruffy voice, bare feet and occasional use of a strap-on harmonica. Furthermore, the smiles on each of the band member's faces were contagious as it was strikingly evident that they were having a blast onstage, doing what they love to do. That vibe carried over to the audience as people danced and sang along throughout the band's set. A highly energetic experience, the Adam Ezra Group's performance was a picture perfect representation of how to warm up a crowd...as a matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say, I'd hate to be the act that has to follow them.
Adam mentioned that the producer for a fairly high profile band (The Fray, if you're wondering) recently approached him about recording some of the band's songs...calling it "the highlight of their musical careers". With any luck, you'll be hearing more from these guys in the near future. Here's to hoping the Adam Ezra Group gets the recognition and success they so rightfully deserve.
Enter the Haggis
Haggis [hag-is} - noun: a traditional pudding made of the heart, liver, etc., of a sheep or calf, minced with suet and oatmeal, seasoned and boiled in the stomach of the animal.
It is because of that definition and that definition alone that I chose tonight's show at Jammin Java as my show for the week. Having never heard of either act on the bill (which I've already discussed above), it was the sheer originality and absolute disgustingness of the name "Enter the Haggis" that caught my eye. Luckily my highly scientific formula for picking shows was dead on, as I was about to witness an energetic and fun blend of traditional Celtic/Irish music with pop/punk rock that must be seen to be believed.
Apparently, I was one of the few people in attendance tonight who weren't familiar with the band as it was obvious from the start that the majority of the audience knew every word to every song...as a matter of fact, at times I'm fairly certain they were singing louder than the guys in the band. Speaking of which, Enter the Haggis is made up of Brian Buchanan on lead vocals, fiddle, keyboards and guitar (this guy was all over the stage...a musical jack of all trades), Trevor Lewington on lead vocals and guitar, Craig Downie on bagpipes, harmonica, what I believe to be a penny whistle and backing vocals, Mark Abraham on bass and backing vocals and James Campbell on drums. The band calls Toronto, Canada home (I thought the same thing! An Irish band from Canada...huh?).
Despite being from the great white North, these five guys created a sound that made you feel like you were in a cozy pub in Dublin. Let's put it this way, I don't remember what I was drinking before the band came onstage, but once Enter the Haggis started playing, I'm pretty sure I went to the bar and ordered myself a Guinness. The combination of the traditional Celtic instruments like bagpipes (a personal favorite of mine) and penny whistle with the more modern electric guitars and...get this...electric fiddle, made for a truly original musical experience. Speaking of that electric fiddle, at one point Buchanan actually pulled off a solo with that thing (using a wah-wah pedal I might add) that was absolutely unbelievable.
The band played through two sets of music and still their crowd (known as "Haggis Heads") wanted more. Upon taking the stage for set number two, Buchanan expressed a little humor when he took a swig of water from a bottle that had apparently already been opened, looked to his left at bassist Abraham and said "hope you don't have any cold sores...that's the gift that keeps on giving". Adding even more personality to the show, Lewington introduced the song "Broken Line" as being about his grandfather's involvement in the fight over building a pipeline through his backyard in Canada...how cool is that?
Buchanan mentioned that this show was actually being broadcast live over the internet for all their fans...err, Haggis Heads...to see. Having been to quite a few shows in my day, I'd have to say that's the first time I've heard of a band doing something like that for their fans. If you can't see them for yourself, I'd recommend logging on and catching one of those live, streaming Enter the Haggis shows. I doubt you'll be disappointed.