I was in Portland with Kevin for a show of this band I had been listening to called The Jazz Mandolin Project. I'd had a mediocre experience with opening bands before, but this one stole the show. The leader of the trio, Jarrad Kaplan, illuminated that difference between a drummer and a true percussionist. He was surrounded all sorts of things that made sound, and he worked each of them to his advantage. You can hear Jarrad in the background of this recording, vocalizing along with the guitar. Because he was so damned into the music that he couldn't help it. Such an raw energy in that man.
This song has such a delicious slow groove. It has time to breathe before it opens up. And the tone of Paul Benoit's guitar… tasty. I bought an album from the band on the spot. I walked away far more interested in this small local band than the band that had actually brought me to the show.
I tracked this Hanuman band down with the magic of the internet. I found some sample tracks of their music on their web site, which was the first time I'd seen such a reasonable discovery experience. Try before you buy… what? That may had been technology magic, but the purchase was decidedly low tech: I sent a check to a local Seattle mailing address and one of the dudes in the band sent me back a CD.
The album that I had purchased was actually a journey backward in band time, to a time when the band had a flautist. You know… with a flute.
I liked the album, but I was oddly self conscious about it. I remember having a conversation with this girl in the dorms, Amy, about whether other people would judge me for my music. Maybe it was being thrust into a completely new group of people. Maybe it was living so close to everyone without a ton of privacy. But for moment I doubted myself. I doubted my music. She was reassuring. I got over it.
I think the track I played for her was "Green Man", the first track. But in cataloging this entry I was extremely tempted to skip the memory and use the slot to promote "Emry's Vision", on account of it being rad. Or "Moon Dog Funk". Lots of great moments on that album.
I listened to a lot of Dave Matthews Band in high school, as you know by now. The same year I left for college Dave released this album from his acoustic college tours. He paired with Tim Reynolds, and the two of them worked without additional accompaniment to replicate the band's full sound. The album thus centered on songs that can be played by two guitars. As I set off to meet new people, guitar in hand, this was perfect for me.
I have many memories of doing Dave Matthews covers with my friends Dan and Billy in the dorms. Some of the residents loved that; others wanted us to shut up so they could go back to studying. Regardless I think of this as my high point in guitar-dom. Good music, good friends, simple times. One of us would continue on to take music more seriously. Sadly, it wasn't me; that honor goes to Dan.
My choice of One Sweet World here is pretty much arbitrary. It captures the feel of the album, but we pretty much played all of them and so much more.
Although we were in my acoustic golden age, that wasn't all I was listening to. This song… this song is excellent. That driving piano beat, the sampled vocals with that olde thyme feel, the smooth tone, and relentless grove. This isn't music performed by musicians on raw instruments. It's remixed, blended… and somehow better for it. This album laid some groundwork for my acceptance of music to come.