Monday, April 11, 2011

Monkeys and Gators are "Down at Bartini's"

For those of you who missed Monkey Grip's return to Bartini Bar on April 9, you missed quite an event. We'll have some video and images up on the site here and here respectively, and you should definitely check those out.

Here's my summary of the night...

Firstly, the night was a fundraiser for the local Gators baseball team and featured several bands, but seeing how this is the Monkey Blog, I will make the focus of this particular story on Monkey Grip's part in the evening.

I got there early to set up and I was honored to be asked to sit in with the opening band, the Drew Crew. With their regular drummer, Vickie, unavailable, I did my best to help out Dave, Magge, and Bill, and what a treat it was. The songs were great. I knew a couple of them, others I hadn't heard, but the oft-country-influenced tunes were right up my alley and somehow it all came together and I had a great time jamming with the band behind the Bartini scene. Much thanks to them for allowing me to be part of their set.

By the time the rest of the Monkeys showed up, the place was packed, with the fundraiser having brought out the folks in droves. The crowd was festive, there was a spread of food, and the familiar face of Jackie manning the bar. We were primed for a good night.

Normally, it would make sense to open the set with a well-rehearsed Monkey standard that has been around for a while. But we're so jazzed about the latest addition to our setlist, "Hey Now" (Aschulter/Cafarelli), that we simply had to open with it. I'm still very excited by this song.

From there, we went right into "Shine" (Kuchler), which is an old song of Scott's, but fairly new to the Monkey Grip repertoire. From there, it was cover time, and, like every other band out there, we love the the Beatles and this time it was "Maggie Mae" (with Mark on lead vocals) into "I've Got a Feeling" (with Scott doing the McCartney part and me doing Lennon's).

"Big Hurt" (Cafarelli) and "The Answer" (Kuchler) followed. Prior to the latter, we had what could only be described as a Monkey Blunder. The count off (1, 2, 3, 4) ended not with the band beginning to play, but with Mark stepping up to the microphone and yelling, "Jello shot!" He later explained that he was simply enthusiastically overwhelmed by the refreshment that was handed to him just seconds earlier. I think Mark is going to have a new nickname: Mark "Jello Shot" Aschulter.

Jim was bugged that he opted not to bring his own equipment (as i knew he would be, 'cause he's such sticker for bass tones), but played his trademark highly-impressive bass lines. His brother, Joe Falacara, was in attendance and helped out with some video work for us. Ditto for Donna Boughton, who was a great help with pictures, video, and… tambourine. She wanted to get in on the fun so much that she brought her own tambourine (seriously!), and she ended up shaking it for us on and off for the rest of the set.

Badfinger's "No Matter What" prefaced our own "Bed of Gold" (Cafarelli) and "In My Soul" (Kuchler). The rest of the set was rounded off by the James Gang's "Funk 49," "Stuck in a Hole" (Cafarelli), "Professor Ripoff" (Kuchler w/ William Wordsworth), and more Beatles ("One After 909").

The second set was looser, but arguably more festive. Folks were dancing, cheering, and demanding Grateful Dead songs (which we delivered on with "US Blues") and Jethro Tull's "Aquailung" (which we didn't). We also had a bunch more originals including "Down to You" (Cafarelli) and "Saint Sorrow" (Kuchler/Finley). John Lennon's "John Sinclair" was in the mix, too, among others.

After breaking for a raffle drawing, Scott informed us that he was feeling a little under the weather. At that point Dave and Magge Drew came up with us and joined for a fantastic jam, which included a song called "Sweet Jane." Now, unlike my fellow Monkey Scott Kuchler, I don't know much about the Velvet Underground, but, wow, how great did that song sound that night with Dave leading the band? (Great!) Thanks, again, guys!

Scott did return after that, feeling a little better after the quick break, and it was around then that we jumped into Neil Young's "Down by the River." As the guitar began, I heard Donna claim, "That's my song!," so we tag teamed out during the opening bars as she grabbed the sticks and went behind the drums and I took the tambourine and went out front to sing backups with Mark and Dave, while Scott sang lead and Jim held down the low notes. It was a truly epic sounding closer, and that was going to be it, but at Mark's request to satiate his desire to rip it up, I went back to the drums and he shredded while we played the instrumental "Lava" as an encore of sorts.

A great time was had by all, methinks.

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