Were there a conjurer’s secret for the heady brew known as the Flying Other Brothers,
it might read something like this.
Mix equal parts singer-songwriter gone electric, dauntless improvisation, and a
love for walking the edge with a whimsical smile. Steep in the grand tradition of
vintage San Francisco sounds and sensibility. Pepper liberally with original tunes, classic covers, boundless energy, and a healthy dose of humor. Season with serious
fun and bake until done.
The freewheeling creative conspiracy that is the Flying Other Brothers has emerged as a modern-day musical Merry Pranksters of sorts, coupling airtight arrangements with the high-wire adventures of collective spontaneity and exploration.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the individual musical relationships of the band members range from the Grateful Dead and Little Feat to Tom Waits and Bonnie Raitt. As a group, they’ve performed live with Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Country Joe McDonald, Leftover Salmon, G.E. Smith, and Warren Haynes, among many others.
Featuring stellar lead and pedal steel guitarist Barry Sless (Phil Lesh & Friends), keyboardist Pete Sears (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship), and drummer Jimmy Sanchez (Boz Scaggs, Dr. John), the octet is rounded out by Roger McNamee on rhythm guitar, Ann McNamee on percussion, Bill Bennett on bass, Tony Bove on harmonica, and Bert Keely on guitar, all five of whom lend vocals and original tunes to the mix.
With an eclectic musical palette and a steadfast devotion to spreading good cheer, this band of kindred spirits finds itself in its 10th year of what continues to be a great trip for band and fans alike. The good times find a healthy balance in the group’s songwriting, which reflects both a weighted interest in and insight into topics personal, social, and political. Along the way, the band has devoted an ample measure of musical goodwill to performing and organizing benefit concerts for a wide variety of worthy causes.
Moving into their second decade, the Flying Other Brothers continue to gain momentum, garnering positive response to their performances by audiences and critics alike. They’re presently in the studio with the acclaimed T Bone Burnett at work on their new album, fueled by a decidedly vintage approach to both sound and concept. The result should be consistent with their neo-retro outlook on their music as a whole, at once true to their roots and very much at home in the present moment. Everything old is new again and wonderfully so.
What remains clear as the journey continues is the band’s intent to bring their vision of musical merriment with an edge to everyone they meet along the road. Or in flight, for that matter. Beyond that is an adventure still unfolding.
(Photo credit: Jay Blakesberg)