The night started off slow as I came prepped with bud and basically nothing else but a few cigarettes and a will to hear some amazing free music. That’s right, the show I am about to describe was completely FREE, and yet the place was certainly not packed full by any means as it should have been but it still brought a nice crowd full of familiar faces.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dave Berkham from The Reverberations, (and The Hauer Things as well) before they’re set and he was a class act. Very kind and humble, even as I talked his ears off. I went out for a bowl and came back just in time for the beginning of their set. Even the sound check was more quality sound then you will hear out of most bands. They only got better and better, playing all their hit songs, older and newer, and better than I’ve ever heard on studio, which is saying a lot. Dave has full control over his 12 string like not many else do, he is one of the best around town when it comes to lead psych garage guitarists and boy do we have a fair amount of them to choose from.
The rhythm guitarist John Jenne, who deserves tons of notoriety as well, has riffs that are strong but casually cool and smooth. Truly the backbone of the band in that sense giving Berkham the freedom to work his magic alongside a stellar keys connoisseur Bob Fountain who is a newer addition to the band. After a brief hiatus with no keyboardist the band is back on track to psychland and will blow any garage or venue to pieces if the opportunity arises. Cam Mazzia was comfortably amazing on bass without a stitch of effort to be noticed beyond his hands and bobbing head and tapping foot. Not as statuesque as the Arthur Kane, (the bassist for The new York Dolls) but quite relaxed and mellow while exerting such licks. On the sticks would be none other than Ian Bixby, a sensational drummer who is as pure garage rock as can be without missing a beat and while having to keep pace with such incredible arrangements. All and all they are a site to see and one you shall not miss again, especially when free!
Dave Berkham – Vocals and Rickenbacker 12 String
John Jenne – Rhythm Guitar // vocals
Cam Mazzia – Bass Guitar // vocals
Ian Bixby – Drums and Percussion
Bob Fountain – Keyboards
Onto the headliners of the night, Isaac Rother & The Phantoms were a definite surprise even to myself who had listened to some of their work.
Rother opened the set with his back turned to the crowd in full get up with a cape and an afro that had to be almost a foot high. He used the opportunity to introduce the band in a climactic fashion to build suspense and wonder as to how it would rise from there. And boy was it worth much more than the price of admission.
Rother brought onto the stage a woman that had most of the men in the crowd wrapped around her finger like we were all strapped in to watch a grind house film and she was the leading lady. In an all black leotard-like jumpsuit, and a cape as well, she graced the stage with her presence and accompanied Rother with vocals as she also danced along to every song with no holds barred. Rother & The Phantoms even gave us there own rockin’ rendition of old blues standards and dance tunes like Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five’s “Heebie-Jeebies” which Tatiana, (I believe her name was) got the crowd up and dancing along with her for. I was already there swinging hips before that and it only amplified it even more. Rother had us just where he wanted when he broke out the big guns, a famous hit single that they cover and pressed onto a 45 that was once an ear bleeder and yet they somehow turned Britney Spears’ “Hit me baby one more time” into an actual rock song. Couldn’t believe my ears as I wanted to laugh more than anything, it took many quite some time to realize what he had done.
With a bedrock of rhythm and blues and the soul and stage presence of Dr. John the Night Tripper or even Chuck Berry or Jerry Lewis at times, Rother had us all right where he wanted us as he coasted through the set without a hitch.
I apologize for the absence of the names of the drummer and the bassist but I couldn’t find their credits anywhere and failed to ask them their names. Awesome people and even better backup to a great front man. Garage punk bass lines and R&B dumb beats that ranged into punk as well.
Awesome performances all around. Thanks again to all members of The Reverberations and hope to see Isaac Rother & The Phantoms here again soon. Happy Hallows Eve.