By: Martin Halo
Hot Buttered Rum :: 12.08.07 :: The Fountain House :: Newton, New Jersey
Hot Buttered Rum has arrived at New Jersey's Fountain House for a two-night run to finish off their East Coast tour. The band has been on the road more or less nonstop since December 2006 and are currently supporting their 2007 independent release Live in the Northeast.
| Zac Mathews - HBR by Dave Fleishman|
Hailing from San Francisco, HBR is Bryan Horne (bass), Nat Keefe (guitar), Zachary Matthews (mandolin), Aaron Redner (fiddle) and Erik Yates (banjo). Hot Buttered Rum lean heavy on traditional bluegrass as they follow in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead's Americana exploration. What sets them apart from many of their contemporaries is their ability to substitute rhythmic strumming and slapping for traditional percussion.
Taking the stage around 9 p.m. the band offered a set of covers and selections from studio releases In These Parts (2004) and Well-Oiled Machine (2006). "Kissin' Cousins" kicked off the first set, followed by "Hard Hearted," where Yates took the lead vocal and offered some fingerpicking banjo. The locals rejoiced.
The dynamics of the performance remained steady for the most part with jamming interludes present throughout. There was no definitive soul jolting, eye-popping climax. The set, which started off as a bluegrass romp turned into more of a cabin jam. In comparison to jam heavyweights Umphrey's McGee or the face melting Gov't Mule, Hot Buttered Rum are very much traditionalists. You almost get the feeling that they would fair better on a street corner in Austin, Texas with an overturned hat by their feet, rather than under the heated spotlight of the nation's barrooms.
Todd Sheaffer, John Skehan and Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth opened the show, and later joined HBR on the tightly compacted, tapestry laden hobo stage to contribute to "3.2," "Worth Waiting" and "Return Someday." Their splashes of guitar and saxophone added a smoother dimension and provided a calming vibe that eased the adrenalin in the room.
| Hot Buttered Rum by Dave Fleishman|
Where Set One showcased the band's core compositions, Set Two explored their influences. After a half hour intermission where Jack Daniels and soda pop eased their vocals chords, Hot Buttered Rum launched into a bluegrass foot stomp. Still, the locals rejoiced. It appeared half in attendance were there to see the band and half were there because there was a show in town, both sharing an experience that united the community.
The second set featured Redner's bow in a bucking rodeo with his fiddle strings as a cover of Bob Marley's "Satisfy My Soul" surged the audience forward. As the performance neared the three-hour mark they added fuel to the fire with the thumping bass notes of "Up On Cripple Creek." A cover of Jerry Garcia's masterpiece "Sugaree" closed the set.
The road trip to Newton was full of hospitality for the band. After the gig, the people who fought so hard to bring them to town took them in.
Set One: Kissin' Cousins, Hard Hearted, River Song, Bit By Bit, 3.2*, Worth Waiting*, Return Someday*, Evolution* > Thrill Is Gone* > Cold Frosty Morning* > Thrill Is Gone*
Set Two: Wedding Day, The Crest, Satisfy My Soul^, California King, Up On Cripple Creek*, unknown, Take Me Home, Firefly, Lay Me Down A Pallete On Your Floor*, Sugaree*
Encore: Come All Ye Who May, Honey Be
* w/ John Skehan (Railroad Earth) and Andy Goessling (RRE)
^ w/ Andy Goessling (RRE)
DMW News Presents: Onstage and Off with Hot Buttered Rum
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