13 Questions with…Todd Snider

The Greyboy Allstars

The Nightlite Lounge

Bellingham, Washington

April 20, 2007

 

Greyboy Allstars fans everywhere are enjoying the long overdue and highly anticipated sophomore release What Happened to Television?  It has been ten years since any studio material has been released from this group, so the project could have some nostalgia behind it.

If the sounds of GBA are anything to be nostalgic for, then supporters of this band are in for a very enjoyable year.

Band members Robert Walter, Elgin Park, Karl Denson, Chris Stillwell and drummer Zak Najor joined each other in the studio to write the fresh material in a week's time.  The CD was recorded totally live and without the use of computers.  What few edits were made were done the old-fashioned way – cutting tape by hand.  The band's live show is what it is renowned for, so the choice to keep the studio experience analogous to the approach of their stage show must have been a natural direction for the group to go when making this record.

GBA played to sold out venues on their recent pass through the Pacific Northwest.  The shows were a distinguished example of what a funky improvisational soul jazz act should sound like.  Anyone will find it a challenge to resist the dance floor at a Greyboy show.

Frontman Karl Denson provides an unyielding and relentless rhythm force with an assortment of hand held noise makers and the kind of stamina that makes what he does look easy.  The guy’s cadence will raise the freak flag of even the most metrically challenged of squares, and his noise definitely charms.  When Karl isn’t mesmerizing the audience with one of his instruments he steps up to the mic and lets his voice be heard.  Any way Karl chooses to express himself on stage works.

It’s impossible to overlook the members of GBA as they play together on stage, and equally as amusing to see them exchange the jams.  Guitar player Elgin Park is an absolutely phenomenal compliment to Karl’s brand of energy and gifts his spectators with an abundance of hand plucked beats, short and sweet funky string solos and uniquely styled vocals.  A connoisseur of culture with eccentric tastes in both appearance and musical expression he definitely brings an unassuming force of merriment to the show.  

 

Bassist Chris adds the perfect administration of bottom end to compliment Elgins vintage guitar din. The string section has been switching roles at most shows which is a great display of versatility and adds a definition of flare to this segment of the gig. Elgin in particular proves to be an accomplished string asset to the band.

 

Keyboardist Robert Walters adds a hint of Dean Martin swank to the stage and judging from the ever permanent grin stretched across his face he is indeed enjoying contributing to what his band is putting out. His fabulous solos were however too infrequent in Bellingham. Like his stage mates, Robert is a highly capable entertainer when he chooses to grab the helm.

 

The supporting tour for the CD has drummer Eric Kalb filling in for Zak. Being the pulse of a band such as this is no small job.  A serious rhythm role has been offered to him and he is obviously stepping up to the challenge. He does however; at times seem to grow a tad fatigued by the constant pace the show drivers in front of him keep. Any member of this group can assume the responsibility of beat lead and give the guy a 2 minute rest. His physical needs for small breaks in the act are merited, but not always covered. As this tour progresses it seems natural that Eric’s stamina for a two and a half hour GBA show will too. For now, the show carries him well.

 

The Greyboy Allstars are a tremendously gifted group of musicians that unleash a quality„ÄÄsound and put on a very professional show. If there is such a thing as Soul Power then this band has got it.

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