Stormy Mondays | A Farewell To Murph - 2002 STS9 Set

I was shocked by the announcement last week that Murph would be leaving STS9. I cannot imagine the band without him. When I first saw them open for Soulive (!) at the Paradise in Boston, it was Zach Velmer’s incredibly precise, clean and super-tight drumming that caught my attention. I also came to love Hunter Brown’s slow moving pedal as he chipped out rhythm and understated leads and Jeffree Lerner’s contributions as a percussionist. But Murph - he’s the heart of the music.

I haven’t actually been to see STS9 in a couple of years, and now I’m going to miss the retracted dates at the Cap, but they were a staple in my musical diet for some time, and are integral to two of my fondest musical memories. The first was nine years ago when Christo’s The Gates was in New York’s Central Park. For weeks, work crews had been setting up the orange gates along the pathways and side trails of the park, but the exhibit didn’t officially open until a Saturday morning when guests and workers alike moved through the area unfurling the flags. As it happened, it was a rather dreary and wet February day and I couldn’t rally anyone to join me in the early hours to witness the event. As it also happened, Artifact had just been released, and while I had it in hand, I hadn’t yet listened. As I entered the park, I hit play on my old Sony Discman, to be greeted by “a musical story, yes,” and set off on a strangely ecstatic walk, chasing after the initial cheers as each flag began to flutter, and later, the calmness as each new addition joined the rivers of cautionary orange that had already be set free. The album was and still is the greatest art soundtrack I’ve ever known.

Years later the band once again enhanced a truly stunning visual display when they played the closing late-night set at All Good in 2007, with Chris Kuroda handling lights. High up on the hill at Marvin’s Mountain Top, I sat amazed as STS9 laid out expansive, swirling grooves while lasers shot through the cold night air and played and refracted across the early morning clouds that rolled in, both coloring and obscuring the whole area. I’m pretty sure everyone I knew grew sick of me gushing about that set and experience in the months that followed.

In honor of Murph and his hypnotic, hip-swiveling bass and loving presence, this week we have a killer suite from Japan in May of '02, smack in between a fantastic spring tour and a hugely successful summer tour. As always, enjoy!


Written By: Dan Alford

[Published on: 1/20/14]

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