Musical Alchemy in RVA-(Pink-Talking-Fish at The National)
I barely had time to make it to The National; rushing down Broad Street to catch my second, Pink Talking Fish, show on March 15 in Richmond, Virginia. I have, in the past, tried my best to stay out of everyone’s way during St. Patties Day weekend. I’m not a drinker and I have found over the years, that many people, who go and see concerts during holidays, do not attend concerts frequently and in plain terms, cannot handle themselves or, their intake of extracurricular substances, such as alcohol. Still I decided to brave the hordes of “Irish for the weekend” and started the festivities with Pink-Talking-Fish. Meeting with a group of close friends and giving PTF another shot.
The scene outside of The National can play out like any urban city environment: people selling goods, stickers, t-shirts, drunks talking wildly, homeless persons asking to “Hold a dollar” and of course, the young kids beating on 5 gallon buckets but it was quiet for the most part. As I arrived at the box office, 22$ was easily procured from my wallet and paid to the young lady at the window who was mysterious and tall. I usually get free tickets to most concerts that I review here at www.jambandpurist.com but I decided to forgo the emails and the sometimes-tedious route of getting media tickets. I enjoyed the same experience as everyone else anyway and found it liberating for the evening.
The house was crammed with the strangest array of individuals, I have seen at a concert in quite some time. The place was literally packed and quite diverse. There were groups of rave kids in neon colored clothes, heady dreadies, deep-fried-spunions, RVA Hipsters with curly mustaches and waxed beards, the old and the crusty alike. Who do I fall in line with this crowd? I’m never sure, as I get older every second and persist in finding distinctive sensibilities. My father and Grandmother continue to wonder why, I never grew out of going to concerts. They can’t fathom how someone can enjoy live music at the ripe old age of 32! (So, I’m Probably old and crusty at this point.)
My last experience with Pink-Talking-Fish was last year at 5 Points Music Sanctuary. This was actually my first show at 5 Points and thus begun my relationship with that venue; my favorite venue in Virginia. So I can never thank them enough for making me get down to Roanoke that night. This show seemed much different than I had previously remembered and with a new guitarist, a larger audience and rising energy, PTF came out strong, I didn’t arrive on time so, I don’t know exactly what they started off with but the set list seems to closely resemble some others on this tour. I wasn’t expecting much more than a fun time from this band and my assertions were essentially correct but what I was most impressed with was the musical abilities of each member.
PTF can fucking play. That’s all there is to it. Each member brings an original energy and unique musical attribute. The keyboard player, Richard James is obviously the leader throwing the keys around like a plaything. The new guitarist, Cal Kehoe would throw his head back in pure ecstasy, while soloing, in and out, of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish songs. The band carefully melds these songs like sonic blacksmiths. Songs from the evening included: “Mike’s Song”, “Breathe”, “Cities”, “Have A Cigar”, “Psycho Killer”, an unexpected, “Martian Monster”, “Weekapaug Groove”, “Stash”, “Punch You In The Eye”, “Wilson” and even, “Roses Are Free” and my favorite, “Careful With That Ax Eugene.”
Reflecting back, I can’t help but think what this band could do with an original catalogue of material. While I enjoy a good cover act, especially with one that captures the spirit of three legendary bands, it’s always hard for me to suspend my belief and actually enjoy myself without, completing comparing it with the real thing. My mind is always critiquing and comparing, contrasting and analyzing; the truth is, I wish I could lose myself completely in the music because PTF warrants my full attention. In the end, I’m still left dreaming, “What could be?”
Jam Band Purist
Artist Spotlight: Brandon “Taz” Neideraur (The Chosen One)
The legend of Taz continues to grow, even as I write this. As it grows, so does his music ability and prowess. Taz is the Chosen One; chosen by the patriarchy of Jam. Chosen by Zambi himself. I have rarely cried from musical experiences but Taz has brought me to tears. Not just because the future of this music is in his hands, its because he can truly play with passion and palpable intensity like none I’ve seen, especially at such a young age. Embodying a much older demeanor and onstage command, Taz has already proven worthy of the title, Chosen One.
Having seen Brandon “Taz” Niederuer numerous times now; sitting in with bands like: The Marcus King Band, Widespread Panic, Spafford, The String Cheese Incident and well…just about every band in the scene, I was completely mind-blown seeing him live in Roanoke, Virginia with his own band. This band featured great musicianship including, Matt Godfrey, whom I met on Jam Cruise this past January and we enjoyed a few shows together. Matt is not only an astounding guitarist but he is also a guitar teacher and the man behind many of the young guitarist out there today. I didn’t know what to expect from this band but they truly bring an amazingly profound experience to the stage; something that seems rare nowadays. Shredding their way through originals and covers alike, I haven’t been this impressed with a band since seeing, The Marcus King Band for the first time, two years ago. While I keep comparing this band to MKB, they sound nothing alike, except for having a phenomenal guitarist at center stage. Taz and Friends are original, highly talented and that’s only the beginning.
Five Points Music Sanctuary was packed to the brim with patrons for this show. I have been quite lucky to see so many amazing shows here in Roanoke, Virginia. Every time I return, I see a show that tops the next but this may be the best I have ever witnessed in the Sanctuary. History was surely made that night. Many teenage girls littered the front row, all waiting, for Taz who is a complete Rock Star at this point. A 16-year-old with a huge blond Afro led the opening band; Taz would jam with him onstage for the Neil Young classic, “Cortez The Killer”, which went on for a little too long. It seemed as though, Taz was holding back a little before his performance. While the local show proved fun, I was still anticipating what Taz would do with his own material.
When the band took the stage, there was an immediate change in energy level and overall excitement in the Sanctuary. This band takes things to another level and I was extremely impressed with Taz’s vocals and original songs. Having never heard Taz sing, in person, this was most surprising; his voice is both soulful and clean. The songs themselves sound mature and focused. I had just listened to Taz’s episode of Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast and learned so much about him. For his age, then 15, now 16, Taz is beyond his years, not only as a guitarist but also as a person. It was great to hang with the band after the show and learn more about them as players and people. Taz and Friends, would cover: The Meters, “People Say”, The Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fade Away”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” And at times, Taz would remind me of Prince. Many of his own songs were reminiscent of that sound, ie: R&B with a lot of soul. Taz is a musical phenom and all around powerhouse not only a guitar but vocally. This seal of approval comes with 5 stars and must see to believe label.
I don’t have anything negative to write about this experience at all. I honestly can’t believe that Taz isn’t selling out bigger venues or at least, headlining his own tour of shows. But then I remember that Taz is only 16 and is still in public school. The future for Taz is unstoppable but not yet defined. I could see Taz gearing more towards Popular music, possibly going for that platinum record which is easily attainable for him. As it stands today, Taz could be included or play in any number of studio sessions with Pop Stars, Hip-Hop Artist and a slew of other acts. Taz would no doubt blow the world away. Or perhaps he could take the true musicians road, practicing his chops, playing and writing all day, everyday. Earning fans one show at a time. Learning Jazz, cutting his teeth nightly, as he seems to do now. The future is in his hands and Taz seems to have some inspiring influences that surround him. I have great faith and belief in the music that pours out of Taz. I wish unsurpassed success for this young man for the rest of his days. May the Jam gods continue to bless you!
Five Points Music Sanctuary and Tyler Godsey, also seem to understand the importance of getting these, up and coming bands, before they blow up. This is one of many reasons I continued to see concerts at this venue and work with them as much, as I can. It was quite a treat to see this show here because I know Taz and friends, will be headlining festivals and even, Jam Cruise, in no time. I was more impressed than I ever thought I’d be. Here’s to many more shows with Taz and friends! Check out the Youtube video below!
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.