BOHEMIAN SUNRISE | 02.13.02 | TROCADERO

My search for the Eternal Groove found me in Philly once more at the lovely Trocadero on Arch street just on the edge of Chinatown. This evening I went to hear a band known as Bohemian Sunrise or Bosu for short.

The band is a 7 piece featuring Ed Clark and Joe Brady on Guitar, Dustin Blackshear on Bass, Jimi Chiara on Keyboards, Dom Clark on Drums, and Larry DeMark and Mike Cunningham on Percussion.

To give you a little background, they are a Southern New Jersey band who has previously opened shows for Ziggy Marley, String Cheese Incident and the Other Ones on the Further tour. Although I have heard their name mentioned before, my previous listening experience was limited to their 2001 studio release entitled Soulstice. That recording on it's own, is a solid record, that blends salsa, funk, bluegrass and jazz with solid vocals and phat grooves. This album alone was enough to start a fire in my ears, now all I needed was a live experience to fan the flames. Upon learning they would be playing the Trocadero on a brisk night in February, I made it a point to get my woolly carcass there and see if they could achieve escape velocity like I hoped they would.

I arrived in the city with no hassles and found myself in front of the venue even before the doors were open. With no luck in getting in early, Sean and I grabbed a couple of beers from a local pub and waited it out, discussing the abundant amount of great bands we have in our scene right now. The diversity and skill level of the musicians who make up the scene right now is amazing. We are lucky to be alive right here and right now!

After a few beers we headed back to the Troc. The Trocadero appears to be a old converted movie theater/playhouse, and I have seen a bunch of shows here. The acoustics are good and there are great sight lines everywhere. There are two levels of balconies but they were not being used this night. Good beer can be found in the sectioned off bar area without sacrificing a view of the stage and the No Smoking policy kept the air clean and comfortable. This place has it's ups and downs but for the most part, it's a good all around venue.

Bosu took the stage at 8:45 to a very large crowd of supporting fans, which caused me to wonder why I had not seem them sooner, and what the hell I was doing to have missed them before. There were throngs of people hooting and hollering well before the first note of music, so the vibe in the air was full of electricity and juice.

The band started things off with "Ja-Pong." A song I have never heard but quickly liked. Jimi took the vocal's on this one and backed it up with some generous helpings of ivory to go with it. He immediately stood out as a super fine musician with lots of character. I remember the lyrics being catchy, something about spinning around, which most of us in the crowd were doing anyway. It was a good way to start off the show.

Up next was an new piece they are calling "D-Jazz" for the moment. I asked the bass player Dustin about this one after the show and he told me that's what their calling it for now. I immediately liked this one. No matter what it's name is, it's good! It starts off very slow and jazzy. Jimi again takes the vocals and makes like a lounge singer, crooning out the lyrics like a Vegas act. Then they flip your world and take you for a little tour down south. South America that is. The loungy/jazz feel is replace with this Latin salsa rhythm that just forces your feet to try something you'd see in a Gene Kelly movie. The band really showcases how tight they are in this number, as there are several start/stops and time changes that just blow the mind. Their ability to change their pace and leave openings in their sound show that they know it's not always what you play, but what you don't play. It was kind of hard to hear the words, so I'll just say the harmonies were great. The lounge section came back and they toyed around with it for a while before choosing a path that led them directly into their next song.......

"Como." "Como" is joy! "Como" is celebration! "Como" is life! "Como" is spinning and dancing around with your friends to a music that knows no age or color or religion. If you hear "Como," and you ain't dancing, then check your pulse you might be dead. Even then, I have a pretty good feeling that the dead are dancing as well. Aside from the wonderful harmonies and the searing guitar leads and the insane key tickling, this song is built on the tribal pounding's of the Larry, Dom and Mike machine! The machine is held together with Dustin's chewy gooey funky chunky bass and harmonized lyric's that make you instantly think of some tropical island paradise, where beautiful dark haired women dance around a fire. A chorus that stays in your head forever and ask's such friendly and kind questions. I'm fine thanks, how are you? There were some great buildup's of tension with all the appropriate release's. Ed's solo was like a stainless steel bullet being fired through an electric gun! All kinds of adjectives come to mind but none seem to come close, except maybe super thin razor wire coated with fluffy marshmallows. With a tone so sharp you could have cut diamonds with it, he spun out note after note that fit with the next one like blocks in a Tetris game. Joe then led us through a sonic tunnel filled with amazing effects. His sound was like a bag of potato chips under water. Crunchy and fluid at the same time. Jimi's undercurrent of sound soon leapt to the forefront and he began to build up the tension piece by piece, with Ed and Joe supplying the needle and thread to hold it together. And then, it's released...............

They can definitely hit that OTHER PLACE space, and allow the group mind to emerge in their jamming.

The sheer joy of the "Como "rollover, is amazing. The entire room, which was considerably filled, appeared to be on trampolines. All the little sounds were coming to the forefront. The offbeat taps, the little shakers, thick chords wrapped around marching band beats. Heads were bobbing and bouncing like super balls on concrete. I would have been fine with that, but everybody was also smiling like the Cheshire Cat! What a sight. The music played the band, and the crowd reveled in it. The great big love beast was awake!

The aerobic workout that was "Como" gave way to the subtle call of the jungle and it's ancient voice of drums. Mike and Larry watched as Dom started the conversation on his kit and then they slid into the mix with their assortment of shakers drums and whistles. All three took turns leading the sound through various musical landscapes, and offering up new directions to head in, while the rest of the band enjoyed a smoke or a swig of water. This is the bedrock on which Bohemian Sunrise rests. Their Percussion/Drum section gives them that world music sound. It creates a solid foundation on which the other musical thoughts can rise up and be heard. Give the Drummers some indeed.

Carlos' mode came out of drums and slithered it's way out of the darkness. This is one of Ed's compositions, an instrumental full of Latin flavor, that fiercely calls the listener to do the Tango or some other appropriate dance. Image's of a bullfight in Spain are broken up by Jimi's delicate tickling, that intertwines with a sad and mournful lead by Ed. All the while the stunning staccato strumming of Joe's guitar, bobbed around the subtle bombs being thrown by Dustin. Something funny I should mention. The percussion section tinkered and cavorted around while making a crisp Latin beat. The way they huddled together in the back, made them look like hoodlums up to no good. This was contrasted by the front four creating such beautiful and wispy music while standing peacefully.

The band closed the show with "Funkalicious Mountain Jelly." Mhh, Mhh, Good! We were the bread and they had a whole jar of goodness for us. Bosu spread it on thick and deep, showing the crowd that they could suck the paint from your house if they decided to put their energies in that direction. Dustin put down his bass for this one and Ed stepped right in and kept the low end right where it belonged. Not only could this guy heat up a guitar, but his bass playing was superb. With the bass line locked down and the drummers chasing the train, Joe took the reins and crafted runs of spidery like riffs that along with Jimi's nuclear powered keyboard pushed the music into outer space. It had a Trey Band/"Burlap Sacks and Pumps" feel to it. Joe has such a bugged out sound. It sounded like a wah that was sad and crying as well as stuttering. The groove built up for a while and then with some church bell like runs, Jimi broke the song down for Dustin to belt out the first chorus.

"When the clock stops on top the rocks, and river slows the flow, it's a smooth move into the groove, let your soul light show!"

"Need more rhythm, flowing through my system!"

Funk, baby funk! The groove monster started it's assault once again and the crowd was totally digging it. I just smiled and moved to the music letting it's heavy and sticky sound envelope me. This song is a show stopper. Once again showcasing their amazing tightness and ability to switch gears, as well as a strong lead vocal and excellent harmonies from Jimi and Ed. And then there's the funk. Smelly and dirty, like a hamper at a beach house. I was dancing so hard by this time I kept doing that "Oh I'm sorry I keep bumping into you" smile at the people around me. But it didn't matter and I don't think I was offending anyone. We were all making like pinball's and I must have switched out of my original spot a hundred times before making it back to where I started. They seemed like they were going to go on for much longer, but their gig clock was just about up so they pulled out some Saran wrap and slowly wrapped up the Funkalicious jelly sandwich with a fade out to the vocal chorus.

"Need More Rhythm, Flowing Through My System!"

And that was it. The band left the stage to a crazed audience who demanded more, but didn't get it. Time was short and they had to break down the equipment for the next band. Instead of leaving a bad taste in the mouth, it only served to increase the craving for the next celebration with Bosu.

I left with a smile on my face, recharged batteries and a smile in my soul. This band is young and growing. They are already at a very creative and fruitful period, and the room for growth is limitless. I can only imagine the fun they have yet to create and share with us. Once again the power of live music saved the day.

As for my final thoughts on this new band. An auditory treat. They are constantly searching for that World Music sound, never wanting to limit themselves to one genre yet not letting their diversity get the best of them. They never seemed lost in the many different sounds they created. It works on many levels. Dom, Larry and Mike make like a couple of hoodlums whipping out polyrhythmic back beats that conjures up images of dusty tribesman from ancient cultures walking from sunbaked plain's to lush rain forest's. Anchored by the smeared butter like playing of Dustin on Bass, Ed and Joe are able to take you on interstellar voyages with their sinewy leads and resonant rhythm playing. It should be noted that both guitarists traded off lead and rhythm, with Ed's tone being clean and tubular and Joe's being fluffy and full of that tasty tongue coating wah. They are definitely aware of each other on stage and you can see the teamwork happening right in front of you. Their communicative looks between each other were priceless and conveyed the fact that they were friends long before they were band mates. Dustin is a monster on bass, and his pipes are pleasant and comforting. Jimi's keyboard work is what will jump out at you right away. Great chops, and a good voice.

Nothing more to say other than I had a great time. Hope to see you at the next one. They are playing McGuinns Place in Trenton, NJ this Saturday the 23rd. You won't be sorry.

Ron "Big Woolly Mammoth" Crowell
JamBase | East Coast
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[Published on: 2/19/02]

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