Getting Juiced--Former members of popular local bands set to make their mark.
Thursday, April 9, 1998
Could the band Juice have chosen a more fitting debut than St. Patrick's Day? By the time my friends and I arrived at Viva Monterey that night, the band had warmed up to a bubbling brew of blues/pop/rock/ funk. Everyone was having a good time; the dance floor was hopping.
Although Juice does not sound like Cream, the power blues/rock trio who dominated the music world in the late sixties, the groups have similar stories: They both began life with members from previously popular bands who joined forces to create music and a buzz associated with their reputations. In the case of Juice, Sean Michael White was formerly with Nectar of the Gods, Justin Saunders and Mitch Fadam swam in Slip Joy River (now The Freight Train), and drummer Charlie Sutter made music with Mockingbird. All are familiar names to music scene regulars.
"We joined due to frustration," says White, seated with Saunders for an in-person interview. "We''re both working at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, and we were talking about how this, this and this didn''t work out, so we said ''let''s me and you get together.'' We got together and played guitar for three hours, and concluded that it could work. We got along musically and personally."
"The mix between his pop-songwriting style and my blues-influenced guitar playing works really well," adds Saunders, a native of the Peninsula and a Carmel High School graduate.
Although the band is young and raw, the players'' abilities and versatility could produce a winning formula for success. White possesses a talent for songwriting, has a strong stage presence, plays guitar and bass, and his vocals are distinctive. Saunders can scorch the strings on his Fender Strat (although the Hendrix influence sometimes overshadows his own ideas) and the potential is there for him to stand out; he also contributes in the songwriting department. Fadam plays both keyboards and bass. (Both White and Fadam also play in another band, The Buddy Garland Show.) And Sutter is a solid rock drummer, stick spinning and all (the band hopes he keeps that to a minimum), who holds both the beat and the attention of the audience. With Jennifer McPhee as manager, the eight-month-old band has high hopes for being at the right place at the right time.
"Monterey is ripe to have someone hit big," says the irrepressible White. "It''s time for us to have a little of the Bay Area glory. We want to get the community spirit going, get behind the music scene. Come out and support your local artists. Buy me a beer and life is happy."
You have two chances to see Juice this weekend.
Juice, with Be My Elvis opening, Friday, 9:30pm. Viva Monterey, no cover, 646-1415. And with Jedi opening, Saturday, 9:30pm. Whitey''s Place, two drink minimum, 646-8383.
Reggaehas been a strong presence on the scene recently. Dub Congress'' performance at Whitey''s Place on Saturday proved they are one of the better groups to come around here. Their dub style, created with the help of sound man Andrew Seidel, has a fuller aural impact and more soul to it than the music I heard from Jahmai at Doc''s Nightclub last Tuesday. Unfortunately, two main members of that band, the Dixon brothers, were missing from Jahmai''s performance due to a death in the family, but after listening to their CD, there wasn''t much difference in the spare, down-to-the-bones sound. As far as each band''s philosophical dogma, Dub Congress approaches life in a contemporary fashion, weaving hip-hop rhythm vocals that jam out with the reverb, and their lyrics celebrate day-to-day living in brotherhood. In contrast, Jahmai comes across in a preaching manner, perhaps a bit contrived. This week you can hear both bands and make up your mind which suits your tastes.
Dub Congress, with The "In"citers opening Friday, 9:30pm. The Catalyst, $6/advance; $7.50/door, ages 16 and over, 423-1336. Jahmai, Tuesday, 9:30pm. Doc''s Nightclub, no cover, 649-4241.
There''sa bit of a crossover in these two events as far as the artists participating, but the focus and format differs. Ali Ryerson, Kenny Stahl and Weber Drummond, world-class jazz musicians who call this area home (for Ryerson, it''s a part-time thing), join together for a concert/recording session sponsored by Barbara Murphy''s Portofino Presents. Murphy has a long-standing relationship with the three artists who used to perform at the old Portofino Cafe in Pacific Grove as part of her weekly jazz jam sessions, and then as integral members of the fusion-jazz group Zen Blend. Their show Friday will be a unique opportunity to hear two flutes and piano, where each musician contributes repertoire and arrangement to contemporary, Latin and Brazilian jazz with classical influences. All are classically trained, accomplished musicians, and have attained levels of success that branch out to the international community. Could be special.
Ali Ryerson, Kenny Stahl, & Weber Drummond, Friday, 8pm. The Media Room, $25/advance, $30/door, 655-2010.
Agaggle of local musicians, including the three above, join for "An Extraordinary Evening of Musical Crossover," to honor pianist Bob Phillips. It''s a joint fundraiser for the Pacific Coast Center for Creative Living and Monterey Religious Science.
Ryerson, Stahl, Drummond, Kirtana, Karl Dobbratz, Elise Rotchford, Mary Lee Sunseri, Bill Minor & more, Saturday, 8pm. Carleton Hall at Monterey Religious Science, $15/general; $10/students & seniors. 372-1942.
TheMonterey Jazz Festival had its Press Preview Party at Yoshi''s Nightclub in Oakland last Thursday to announce the 1998 lineup and events scheduled around the September 18, 19, & 20 41st edition of the world renowned festival. Director Tim Jackson presents a program which looks less earth-shattering than last year''s dynamite show...but his knowledge of what''s happening on the scene always produces surprises. Pat Metheny Trio, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Al Jarreau, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, Zawinul Syndicate, Paquito d''Rivera, Mingus Big Band, Tower of Power, Sista Monica, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jessica Williams Trio, Will Bernard 4tet, Omar Sosa and Marcia Ball/Irma Thomas/Tracy Nelson: Sing it! are just a taste of what he has in store. Season tickets always go fast. Call the festival office now for information regarding tickets. 373-3366.