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Published: 2001/08/27
by Dan Greenhaus

Deep Banana Blackout/Uncle Sammy, Wetlands- 8/25

With the final nights of Wetlands quickly approaching, the first of several
two-band-lineups occurred on a beautiful Saturday night. This evening gave us
current Wetlands denizens Uncle Sammy, along with former Wetlands regulars/funksters
extraordinaire, Deep Banana Blackout. Midway through Uncle Sammy’s set
the show sold out, affirming the potency of this bill.

Due to some unforeseen problems, Uncle Sammy arrived at Wetlands much later
than anticipated, which delayed both their starting time, and fans entrance
into the venue. In fact, there were a handful of fans in the club while
Uncle Sammy were still sound checking.

The show proper began with a free-form jam, as has become Uncle Sammy’s custom these
days. Keyboardist Beau Sasser teased several songs before the band settled into "In the Lab." This tune started things off a little slow, but the ensuing "Teen Town" more than made up. "Teen Town" is a song
originally done by Weather Report, that ’70s jazz-fusion group that featured
one of the greatest bass players in history, Jaco Pastorious. Anyone
who has seen Uncle Sammy before knows that bass player Brian O’Connell does
a more than adequate job of playing Jaco’s parts, and this night’s version
was a perfect example. The jam quickly drifted away from structure as guitarist Max Delaney,
showcased his skills on a very trancey jam before the band brought back the
original chord progression of the song. By this point, the club was just about filled, with people having to
stop at the top of the steps by the bar. "Superman" followed which is one of my favorite Uncle Sammy songs, featuring some of their better lyrics, a very catchy beat and a nice jam/guitar
solo. However, on this night, the entire crowd was grooving during the funky intro and many
were singing the chorus-ending line "I’m a Superman!!" at the top of
their lungs. At the very moment the jam began, Brian O’Connell abandoned
the standard bassline for a slightly more funky line, which the band picked
up on and began jamming. Five minutes later, they were in a full-on funk
jam with the entire crowd singing "We Want The Funk," even though the band did not.
"Feeling Optimystical" was next and although played well, paled
in comparison to the previous song. "Sacagaweeda"
followed and the song’s jam was a vehicle for the third stellar jam of the
evening, thanks in part to lighting director Jeff Waful, whose color schemes really enhanced the music all night. Beau Sasser and drummer Tom Arey led the group into another trancey space
improv. Again, the band received a huge ovation
from the crowd before leaping into the final jam of the night, "Ricky
Rabbit—>Windjammer". When the jam was finished at 11:15 and it was
apparent that Uncle Sammy was done, the crowd leapt into a chant of "TWO MORE
SONGS!!" repeatedly.

However, the night quickly belonged to Deep Banana Blackout.
Hailing from the Northeast, they have been touring for years, winning fans
over with each show along the way. Although lead singer Jen Durkin left the
group last year, new member Hope Clayburn has more than made up for her loss,
as she plays several instruments, all extremely well. DBB took the stage
around 12:15 to a completely-packed Wetlands. If you’ve never been to
Wetlands, or haven’t been there at a sold-out show, you are missing
something special. The crowd was extremely enthusiastic and excited at the
prospect of seeing a band of DBB’s caliber in a smaller venue such as
Wetlands. The club was packed with a nice mixture of Wetlands regulars and first timers coming to see a big name band, but who ever you were, you had to be turned on by
the band’s infectious groove-funk. The band had everyone grooving into the
wee hours off the morning and the band as a whole gave everyone their twenty
dollars worth, even without Uncle Sammy, who did the same.

I had a chance to speak to DBB guitarist Fuzz before his set about the
club’s closing and he summed up the feelings of many in attendance
perfectly. "It sucks. I hope they build another ‘cause some people are
losing a home here." One of those bands losing a home is Uncle Sammy. In
recent months, they have established themselves as one of the more
formidable bands to play the venue. Along with Rana, ulu, Lake Trout, and
Robert Randolph, Uncle Sammy are among the latest class of bands to grace
Wetlands stage regularly, and the club’s closing puts a black cloud over the
future of these groups. Perhaps another venue will benefit from Wetland’s
closing (Lion’s Den?), but none will be able to match the history of this
club. Some of the biggest names in the music world have been on that stage,
as several more will in the coming weeks. I urge anyone who has never been
to Wetlands to please make it to one of the last shows. This is a venue
that will not be quickly forgotten, and it is our privilege to be able to

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