Shimmy Shack – Shimmy Shack
Shimmy Shack is what it sounds: a collective groove in a place. A little deceiving since the word "shack" evokes images of structure whereas Dino English and Mike Apirion’s group and debut album, Shimmy Shack, is special because it was born through mobility. While English and Apirion were more or less stationary while creating the bones, it’s English’s relationships on the road as drummer for the Dark Star Orchestra that enabled him to capture the tracks that resulted in this wholly collaborative album.
For starters, traveling with him at all times was the DSO talent pool, a quality reserve to have on hand. The late and truly great Scott Larned lends lovely organ and keys all over the place, and Lisa Mackey's vocals give the highs substance on this marginally funky mix-up. But it's when the bus parks in the vicinity of other bands the fun really begins.
English travels with a ProTools equipped mobile recording studio and — at the conclusion of its set up — he goes on the prowl for others to come play. The result is free-form fun then mixed into solid song structure. Jon Fishman's tabla lines laid at last year's All Good festival join a bassline by the Disco Biscuits' Marc Brownstein on "Another Thing," and the track "Batman" is moved along with the help of some Keller Williams vocal percussion.
Shimmy Shack strays confidently away from the Grateful Dead comfort zone. Only "Hard Headed Woman" (not by Cat Stevens) is distinguishably Dead, but it’s also the track with the most DSO and Rob Barraco assistance. Diversity ensues when compared with the Latin track "Don’t Turn Me Away," on which Vassar Clements contributes impassioned violin harmony.
English and Apirion do a good job at both making sure the styles vary and creating catchy hooks, such as on "Garden." The only persistent is the tendency for Apirion's falsetto to become annoying, but it's bearable and only occasionally detracts from the music. On Shimmy Shack, the studio meets the road in organic harmony.