Stanton Moore Trio with Anders Osborne
September 26, 2010
As a cooling rain eased into the mid-Atlantic, trying to break the back of an excessively hot and dusty drought, a group of seasoned musicians came into the 8×10 in Baltimore, Maryland on Sunday, September 26. Equally seasoned music fans came with high expectations to see two powerful headline performers join forces in Stanton Moore and Anders Osborne. The 8×10 is one of music’s greatest settings; a small and intimate club with great sound and a nicely elevated stage, all of which gives the musicians an inescapable presence. Rather than feeling like you are at a concert, you feel like you are at a house party. Owners Abigail Janssens and Brian Shupe are tireless promoters of the music they love and their attitude filters through the entire club.
For their part, the Stanton Moore Trio with Anders Osborne did not disappoint. The first set was by the Stanton Moore Trio without Anders. The band, made up of Stanton on drums, Will Bernard on guitar and Will Blades on the Hammond B3 organ, worked their way through several tunes from their latest release Groove Alchemy. Although no two tunes seemed to fit into the same stylistic box, the underlying thread that bound them together was funk. Each piece was hard grooving and often drifted through different styles within the same song, exploring a real adeptness that these three musicians have.
Organist Will Blades was filling the rather large shoes of the trio’s regular member, Robert Walter. He rarely took his eyes off of Stanton and played through transition after transition with a veteran’s ease. As songs would take turns into gospel or reggae, the band would laugh and throw their heads back as if the turn caught them all by surprise.
Stanton spoke for a while about getting the opportunity to play Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble the night before, which they said they were still buzzing from. This was also an opportunity to revisit the site where Groove Alchemy was recorded. They had planned to perform the gospel classic "A Closer Walk with Thee," but discovering it was already in Levon Helm’s set, they decided to wait and play it for the 8×10. It was a sweet and wonderfully moving treat.
Stanton Moore is a drummer with a remarkable array of textures in his bag. His well-practiced variety in tone, tempo and style makes listening to this instrumental trio as interesting as possible from song to song. Will Bernard proved to be equal to the task, coaxing a wide range of tones from his 1995 Gibson ES335 reissue – from soft and pretty as on "A Closer Walk with Thee" to a ratty and growly tone on some of the more intense songs, to a punchy funky sound on some of the second line styled songs. Stanton rarely took the smile off his face; the joy he brings to playing music is palpable and infects the audience. The band went out of the first set with a rocking version of "Late Night at the Maple Leaf."
The second set featured the addition of Anders Osborne and opened up with a very muscular version of "On the Road to Charlie Parker" from his latest album American Patchwork. For many years Anders kept that muscular jamming groove as the main stay of his performance, rocking hard back and forth, using his whole body to squeeze out emotion from his blistering guitar style of play. But now his live shows are beginning to morph nicely to include some of his brilliant song writing and sweet soulful voice.
Anders’ set really meandered through an array of styles and tempos, from a solo version of "Amazing Grace" played with his slide to hypnotic psychedelic jams to funky shuffles. At times he would call the key and changes to the next song he wanted to play on the fly, the band responding seamlessly, turning on a dime.
There is an obvious joyous connection between Moore and Osborne, who rarely smiles during a gig but every time he looked back and saw Stanton, there was an instant grin from the connection. Many times through the night, Anders seemed possessed by music’s demons, able to be lost in a solo when surrounded by such a great cast. This held the audience captive, which stayed all the way to the end – well after 1:00 AM on a Sunday night.
This night was an overall great convergence. One can go to the 8×10 free from the fear that his expectations won’t be met, and the very same is to be said for the Stanton Moore Trio with Anders Osborne.