Some of Southern CA’s best bands converged in Santa Monica for a most worthy cause this past Wednesday, and collectively kept us entertained for over five hours. With good music and good people hanging out at 14 Below, the Earth Save LA chapter raised over $1000 by the time the night was over.

Rising bluegrass locals monkeyGrass opened the show with a solid acoustic set, mixing mostly original songs with a few choice covers. They began with the up-tempo “Boom Chuck,” followed by “The Good Reverend,” sung by mandolin Monkey Dane Halter. “Hot Air Balloon” wove into the Keller Williams tune “Best Feeling,” sung by banjo player Robby Loeb. A furious “Rendezvous Factory” then got the crowd into serious hoe-down mode. The relatively new original “Georgia Death Song” featured solos from all four members (that would include guitarist Paul Aziz and the “Bassy Apey” Chip Fieberg). MonkeyGrass closed their set out with the traditional “Salt Creek” sandwiched around a strong rendition of “Fire on the Mountain.” Too bad more folks weren’t yet in the concert room, but that was to be expected as their set coincided with the second half of the Lakers’ Championship clinching game. You can catch these guys at Winston’s in San Diego on June 27th or picking stealth sets around the High Sierra Music Festival campgrounds in July!

Next up were Orange County jam favorites Thalamus Flynt. Sadly, Thalamus’ future is in jeopardy since bassist Shawn Mckay is soon moving to Hawaii. So those in attendance were savoring one of the final performances from this band. Highlights for me were a fun take on The Meters “Cissy Strut” and a near perfect cover of the Steve Kimock tune “Tangled Hangers.” While Thalamus Flynt will be missed, I am sure that the other talented members of this band will be playing in some form around Southern CA in the future, so be sure to check for news on what is next for them.

Preceding MamaSutra’s headlining set, Cecilia Hilkey and Susan Weingartner (co-chairs of the EarthSave LA chapter) spoke, thanking us for coming out and also giving us more insight on what EarthSave is all about. Rather then attempting to restate their eloquent words, I would rather direct you to Earthsave Foundation for more information on this organization. Sangeeta Kumar also spoke - she organizes a large humanitarian festival called Worldfest that draws over 10,000 people annually.

Okay, now it was time to get down to business. If you want funk with style, sassy vocals, and some hot jams thrown in, Venice’s MamaSutra is a band for you. On this night, they were definitely inspired since it was guitarist/saxophonist Russell Spurlock’s birthday. While I missed out on their famous 4/20 party a few months back, I was very impressed by their energy here. With enough keyboards (Wurlitzer, Hammond B-3 and several more) to make most ivory players envious, the new keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum added a fat sound to their funky mix. He also took a lot of strain off Spurlock, who seemed more comfortable switching between guitar riffs and his effects-laden alto horn then ever before. Molly Boyles laid down strong bass lines and showed off her great voice while Ben Martin controlled the skins all night long.

There was a nice crowd getting’ funky most of the set, through catchy tunes like “My Car is So Groovy” and the hot set closer, Arlan’s own “Jalapeno Rimjob.” With the killer keys in the mix, I think MamaSutra’s future looks brighter then ever. Catch them on July 19th when they open an all-night throwdown (headlined by Particle) in a yet-to-be-determined downtown LA warehouse location - visit the Party Harty website for more details on what is shaping up to be an unforgettable Southern California event!

All in all it was a very interesting mix of bluegrass, jam rock, and FUNK- contributed by three So Cal bands that volunteered their talents for a great cause. Thalamus Flynt will be missed, but you will see more of monkeyGrass and MamaSutra around these parts for a long time to come.


Seth Eisenstein
JamBase | So-Cal
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[Published on: 6/18/02]

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