Just Another Wednesday Night With Kendall Street Company
I haven’t seen Kendall Street company since LOCKN’ Music Festival, a couple of years ago. They opened up right before Umphrey’s McGee and I thought they did a great job keeping the audience's attention before such a big act. And that was a few years ago. They have since grown into a fullfledged touring band deserving of an entire review here at www.jambandpurist.com
It was just another Wednesday night in Harrisonburg, Virginia; my hometown. Not a lot of music seems to come through here. When it does, I feel lucky to be able to see a show five minutes away from my house. Oh, the luxury of actually having a somewhat decent venue that is getting some music near you. I wasn’t expecting the crowd that attended for a Wednesday night show and I was glad to see the turnout. There were a lot of college kids and some older folks. Kendall Street Company seem to have a diverse fanbase. I had previously been in contact with some of the band members trying to get them on my website and YouTube VLOG. Finally, things worked out and here it is.
Kendall Street Company have some major hype and a big management company to boot. There is a reason why they are billed as, "Virginia's Breakout Jamband.” And why have been getting some major attention on this upcoming tour. Kendall Street Co has what it takes to take their sound to the next level. Skipping right past most bands of their caliber. I have been seeing live Jam band music for 17 years now… wow just saying that makes me feel really old. Anyway, I’ve been seeing this kind of music for almost two decades and I have reviewed hundreds of bands. Kendall Street Co are already up there with some of the bigger acts in the scene. With a little honing of technique and constant practice/performance all they need now is for you to hear them.
It was a fairly straightforward setlist, covers were thrown in with the originals but what made this performance stand out was the creativity in which the covers were performed. While they had a simple, easy take on "Bertha" they switched things up with "Lowrider" making it more of a "Slowrider": funky and slower in tempo. I enjoyed this change of pace and sometimes, covers need to be flipped on their head to become something more than what they were before. I was excited to hear "Oye Como Va" done with a nice groove and solid articulation but I was not expecting them to go into "Groove Is In The Heart" by Deee-lite and then back into "Oye Como Va". This was surprising and fun. This is exactly what being a Jam band is all about; taking the music away from bar covers with actual musical segues and changes. Kendall Street Co's originals are also fun, danceable, and party anthems. Their musical abilities combine well together to create something more.
(Lead Singer) Louis Smith's energy is infectious; his constant smile represents the feeling of this band. Brian Roy (bassist) brings the style to Kendall Street & Co, kicking off those fancy slippers and dropping the bass bombs. (Drummer) Ryan Wood is perhaps the most skilled musician of them all and truly plays to the heart of this band. Ben Laderberg on guitar is a melodic wildcard, never knowing exactly when he is about to take off on a tangential solo. Jake Vanaman (Sax) is the solo captain, always bringing the notes. I think there was another keyboardist but I can't find anything online! I hate to leave him out because it certainly added another element and let Jake's sax go to work. I talked with many of the concert-goers and all of them loved the band and wanted to see more. This says a lot about a small local show on a freakin' Wednesday! I haven’t decided if I am catching the next Sunday show but I would definitely like to see Kendall Street company again. I would certainly listen if they were playing at a festival this summer. Here’s to another wild and crazy Wednesday night!
P.S.- I did end up going to the next Wednesday show and it was even better than the one I reviewed here. They were tighter and even more improvisationally sound. I am glad I returned for another round of KSC and I did not have to review it. It felt nice to just enjoy the show and dance. Thanks, Kendall Street for the great times.
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.