Danny Mayer Lends Soul to the Alan Evans Trio
Santa Cruz, California is known for bright blue waves and surfers who defy gravity but below the aquamarine there is some weighty musical notoriety. The Cruz was the home of an early incarnation of Neil Young with his band The Ducks (Young now lives about 20 minutes away in Pescadero, CA), several Doobie Brothers still live here and play in local bands, punky aggregates like Devil Makes Three and The Chop Tops claim it as home—amongst the background of many more famous and infamous talent. So with historical context in place, get ready, because I’d like to introduce, Ladies and Gentleman, the next greatest guitarist on the jamband scene—Danny Mayer.
A mellow, laid back family man Mayer has been demolishing the neighborhood scene, notably at a little restaurant/club called the Crepe Place with two bands—7 Come 11 and the On The Spot Trio. Mayer’s universe-expanding guitar work would make him just another small town guitar hero if it wasn’t for the fact that he was just asked to join the Alan Evans Trio —and of course, you know Evans as the drummer of the fantastical funk groove machine Soulive.
All good things in all good time, some say, but Mayer has been crushing it for years in relative obscurity and it’s gratifying that the world will soon know the magic of this marvelous man. The truth is in the pudding, so I behoove you to get out and catch the live antics of Mayer and the Alan Evans Trio as they make their way across America this summer.
DNA: Have you seen this? It’s a TRI pick from Bob Weirs studio.
Mayer: You know what’s so funny about that? I was over at Sylvan Music (in Santa Cruz) looking at guitars and they had a really crazy old looking Ibanez. I’m not an Ibanez guy, but Al Evans and I were just talking about them. It felt and sounded so good—turns out it was the Bob Weir signature model.
Look Danny, I’m a guitar snob—raised on Jerry Garcia and very picky. But from the first notes of seeing you play I’m a believer—brand new dimension, mind blowing.
I’m going to have my last Crepe Place show with 7 Come 11. They have had that residency for 2 ½ years, almost three years. I’ve been playing with them for close to two years. I sat in with them a couple of times and a few weeks later they asked me to join the band. I had to learn a lot of songs really fast because we had a weekly gig. I had to keep it interesting and it forced me to get my shit together.
What were you doing before that?
I was playing with my band On The Spot Trio and we had been touring all over the country. We do every first and third Thursday at the Crepe Place. So, when I’m not touring with the Alan Evans Trio I’ll still be at the Crepe Place just not with 7 Come 11.
The first leg of the Alan Evans Trio tour is six weeks, but I read there is going to be a Japan and Europe tour as well.
It’s still being confirmed but Al’s band Soulive is huge in Japan.
I saw Soulive in NYC, but being five feet away from you in the Crepe Place was a lot better.
Honestly, the best thing about the Alan Evans Trio is that you get the best of both worlds. You get the musical aspect and the driving force of Evans on the drums and another Hammond player—Beau Sasser is absolutely incredible. We tend to play smaller venues and on the last tour there were so many nights I thought that, “this is just like the Crepe Place.”
There is, shall I say, dancer abandon, at the Crepe Place. Like the kind of kinesthetic snake dance that used to be the rage at Dead shows. Do you have that kind of response wherever you go?
When I first started with the Tuesday night shows at the Crepe Place it wasn’t like it is now and it has grown into a madhouse. When the other guitar player, Mark Van Ness was in the band it was more of a jazz thing. They were incredible but it wasn’t that loud—you didn’t walk in the door and get slammed in the face with music that you had to pay attention to—or at least cover your ears. Now it’s a raging scene with a line out the door and people losing their minds every Tuesday—it’s become a safe place to do that. There’s some magic going on at the Crepe Place.
It gave me the feeling of being in a church, like the greatest church in the world—and I’m Jewish!
I learned how to play guitar listening to Jerry Garica—so that probably has something to do with it.