We've had quite a year in the Bay Area, and as we zoom towards 2002, I can hardly believe all the booty shakin' that's gone down around here. Without using the "H" word, I'll just say that we've all had some spare time this year to check out just how hot the American music scene is right now.

I saw my share of big shows this Summer, and recall a night that actually ended when security at the Greek Theater told me to "go home, you're not going to find Dave Schools' pick on the ground." Actually, my friend Keira did indeed find that pick, and we drove back over the Bay Bridge to do some good old fashioned boogieing. We had done the same a couple of months prior, after the Count Basie wannabe and his rump - shaking horn section made some noise in Berkeley. On both of these nights, we caught what proved to be not nearly enough of a good thing. Well, hold on to your heads, people, The Motet is coming back.

The six piece, Boulder - based Americubafrican groovemasters will be skirting our city this weekend, with shows in Santa Rosa's Last Day Saloon North on Saturday, December 1, and in Santa Cruz at Moe's Alley on Sunday, December 2. What better way to welcome the last month of what has truly been a breakthrough year for these guys?

The Motet was born on Halloween 1998, and three years later wowed 10,000 seasoned festival goers at High Sierra Music Festival. I was one of those, and I found that their mix of traditional Latin and African rhythms and old school New Orleans Funk just suck you in. By the time the end of the set smacks you in the face, and they are standing next to you, still drumming like crazy, you are nothing short of stunned. The first thoughts that came to my mind were the scenes in Eddie Murphy's "Coming To America," when, each time they show James Earl Jones as the King of Zamunda with his entourage, you hear this drumming that makes you want to get up and dance. Just when you think that you could be thrilled with a night of just rhythms, the electric section of The Motet splash cold water on your face and bounce you between New Orleans, New York, and Chicago.

With drummer Dave Watts at the center, The Motet's percussion will spin you in circles until Mike Tiernan pulls you off your chair with a fiery slide guitar. Or maybe you will be twirling with drums until Greg Raymond freezes you with a wailing organ that will make you scream right along with him. New Orleans natives Scott Messersmith (who shows off his Cuban studies) and Jans Ingber (who brings the West African influence) round out the percussion, and Jans glides effortlessly from Funk, soul, and jazz, to traditional African and Cuban songs, and even joined me in a few verses of Young M.C.'s "Bust A Move." after the Justice League show in October. Paul McDaniel, the newest member of The Motet, plays the lows that make you tap your toes on both four and five string electric bass.

Though events like High Sierra, the Carbondale Mountain Fair, and Horning's Hideout (who remembers Jans' rendition of "Use Me" during the late night set?) have been milestones for The Motet in 2001, the real thrills are reserved for us, on the other side of the lights and the amplifiers. You need to sweat it out in a small club to truly feel the power of their rhythms. You need to stand shoulder to dripping shoulder with another who is amazed at the ease with which these guys shift from one musical genre to the next. So take a drive this weekend, and see why Boulder is bubbling over as we near the end of another monumental year.

Alan Z
JamBase | World Correspondent
Go See Live Music

[Published on: 12/5/01]

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