While there are a bunch of acts drawing tons of attention coast to coast, the idea of regionalized sound has been on my mind recently. NYC is gritty, dirty, loud and nasty so it should come as no surprise that hardcore funk, experimental jazz & techno/hip hop are among the most popular sounds on the scene. Contrary to studies which have shown Manhattan as the axis by which the entire universe turns (physically & culturally), my travels have revealed boundless inspiration from spots in landscape to, particularly, the people and the subtly different ways they interpret our world. Up from Raliegh, Drifting Through brought with them a collaboration of country, Southern blues, rock & storytale lyrical tones which we don't often get to hear in the big bad city where Rudy is King of all people 5 feet tall and under.

The Lion's Den seemed the perfect atmosphere for these guys on Saturday, a simple bar that's meant to be massaged instead of exploded but Drifting Through didn't necessarily keep it all in line. First, there's the increasingly strong presense of bassist Everett Bolton who lost his cap in the first song, wrapt in his own rubbery intensity. The band, as a whole, seems inspired by the inherent chill of Carolina life, stirring it up without ever getting convoluted while Bolton plays He-man the entire time. Second guitar/lead singer Randall Kirsch portrayed honorable valiance in both his lyrical expressions and when he addressed the crowd as he did introdiucing the second song based on their favorite literary character (and one of mine) Randle Patrick McMurphy. Brian Werner's keys rippled soulfully while the two guitars, bass & drums went into waterbug mode, gliding on Brian's surface. For the third song, Midtown, the boys kicked it up a notch with a strong Southern blues opening and vocals mixed somewhere between yearning and the avante-minstrel folk of singers like Dave Matthews.

There's a bit of country-rock strumming going on in their string work but more in the ripping blues that had my head craning and straining the way great blues always affects me. Jay Doyle's lead guitar brings back memories of Eric Clapton who also spent considerable time studying the work that came from below the Mason-Dixon line and blends with the healthy rock drumming of Paul Madigan. Trying to get things a stirrin' even more, "an old blues tune" called Funky Bitch came out which I think I've heard somewhere but a very welcome twist came with it. Drifting Through chose to leave the funk in the bag and fry that cover with a blues intensity that got me boogyin' and gave Randall more opportunity to show what he can do with his hands. They're capable of a very full sound when one of the guitars is unleashed into screaming blues while the bass guffaws loudly in response. Next showing their folksier side, the band wove varying interpretations of hue folding back into more openly melodic passages.

Drifting Through will be playing next at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta on Thursday and then on to a four night New Year's run in North Carolina, culminating at the Pourhouse in Raleigh. I'm glad they asked me come down and I hope that y'all take the opportunity to do the same.

Howie Greenberg
JamBase NYC Correspondent
Is Justin Super Mario????

[Published on: 12/12/00]

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