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Published: 2001/05/21
by Rob Kallick

"Live at Magnolia Festival" – Beanstalk – review by

Danceable grooves are something nearly every jamband strives for. Extending
songs for an extra ten minutes so each band member can solo only takes a
band so far. There needs to be something more. Successful jambands have a
mixture of stellar musicianship, danceable grooves, and the extra special
something that keeps people interested and wanting more. With that said,
Beanstalk, a trio from Florida consisting of guitar, bass and drums, get a
few of these aspects right, but not all.
The fierce opening of Jesse James showcases the main themes found on
this album. Andy Irvine runs all over the neck of his instrument with some
stellar bass lines. His tone and fluidity is extremely interesting and
pleasant to the ear. Word has it that Irvine has since left the band, which
leaves this reviewer scratching his head. Joel Lisi’s guitar work is frantic
and relies heavily on his wah pedal. The first track is concise and, by far,
the highlight of the album. The quick changes and tightness of the sound
proves that Beanstalk are all business. Working without a vocalist, the
burden to keep things interesting relies heavily on Lisi and he responds the
challenge by "speaking" to the audience with his instrument. Open
Wide showcases Lisi’s ability to move the jams into all sorts of
different places. Mostly composed, this track still gives each musician room
to go off and improvise.
The album’s final track, Monsoon, clocking in at almost 30 minutes,
starts with a quiet, melodically ambient section with some very nice guitar
effects before moving to a composed portion (replete with a full-on
Stash tease, taboot) which moves into an all out rock fest. Lisi
demonstrates his complete control of his instrument. During a rather intense
part of the song, he sets a loop which allows him to take the jam one step
further. Tucked neatly in the middle of the track is a rather dull drum
solo that begs for accompaniment, sucking the energy out of the song. I
found this track to be fun to listen to at times, but also very familiar,
bringing to mind the sounds of moe., Santana and Phish. But if it’s a
danceable groove you’re looking for, keep Beanstalk in mind. They definitely
have the chops and energy to keep you moving.

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