If you’re one of those people that likes going to shows to get your boogie on, you will probably want to check out The Motet the next time they are in your area. I saw them for the first time last night at the Last Day Saloon, and I never stopped dancing once for their entire 2-hour set.
The evening started off with an amazing performance by The Hanuman. These talented musicians came to the Bay Area from Seattle to grace the stage of the Last Day with their incredible on-stage chemistry. Smiles were everywhere as Paul Benoit's acoustic bluesy guitar licks sliced through the air. Tige DeCoster on upright bass was pumping out the beats at times and playing beautiful melodies at others. Scott Law adds the touch of bluegrass with his mandolin and acoustic guitar picking. And The Hanuman would just not be The Hanuman without the percussive genius of Jarrod Kaplan. With djembe and cymbals by hand and other shaking percussion implements by leg, he was rocking the house down. They were joined by Mighty Dave with his raucus New Orleans style keyboard pounding. This really set the mood for the evening as people danced and danced. Smiles were abound as the music of The Hanuman exuded with positive energy.
Churning out a captivating hybrid of various roots and world music, with an emphasis on rhythm, The Motet deliver New Orleans funk and African percussion grooves with equal skill. Their specialty, however, is finding clever ways to fuse those styles, along with a healthy dose of Cuban and Brazilian influence, into a palatable sound of their own. While more than half of The Motet’s repertoire consists of instrumentals, they keep the audience’s interest with a smattering of vocal tunes, ranging from soulful funk to tribal chants. Not bad for six young white guys from Boulder, CO.
The heart of The Motet is their extraordinary rhythm section. Drummer Dave Watts is the glue, working the snares and cymbals with authority and laying down some brutal second-line funk. Watts is a Berklee School of Music grad with solid credentials (Tony Furtado Band, Druha Trava, Zambiland Orchestra) and some great jazz sensibilities taboot. He is supplemented by top-notch percussionist Scott Messersmith, a New Orleans native who plays a mean set of congas, and lead singer/percussionist Jans Ingber, who plays various timbales, dunduns, bells and gourd shakers. Kurt Reiber’s fluid bass lines round out the grooves, which are in-the-pocket super-tight. There is no aimless noodle jamming with this band.
Filling out the sextet are Michael Tiernan on guitar and Steve Vidaic on Hammond organ, clavinet, and moog. They provide bubbling washes of sound and tasteful solos to complement the band’s infectious grooves, while avoiding any semblance of pretentiousness or flashiness.
Last night’s show at Last Day Saloon in San Francisco packed the house with an enthusiastic crowd. I was surprised by how many people showed up, considering The Motet are not yet that well-known and that there were several other high-profile acts in town that same night. The room was a sea of grooving and swaying bodies from start to finish. I did not recognize a single song until the end of the second set, when they sandwiched the Beatles’ ode to psychadelia “Tomorrow Never Knows” into the middle of one of their soulful funky originals. Though they had already played past the curfew, the roaring crowd convinced the bar’s management to allow the band a quick encore. It was definitely a fun night of grooving; my legs still ache as I type this, but no rest for me, I've got to go see Zero in an hour!
JamBase Bay Area Correspondent
Go See Live Music!
The Hanuman will be at The Inn of The Beginning in Cotati, CA on Friday, November 10. The Motet will be at Henfling's in Ben Lomond on Saturday, November 11.