The Shantee, The Mad Frog, Cincinnati, OH- 5/31/
The opportunity to have a friend and fellow musician jam with the band turned into a special night of music for those in attendance at The Mad Frog this past weekend. I made the trip down to Cincinnati with a couple friends and we arrived a little early to a sparsely filled room. Which was good because we needed a little time to kick back a few drinks and stretch out for the night of dancing that was about to ensue. The room filled up fast with the wide variety of devoted fans that The Shantee draws and the buzz in the room was all about the news that Ed McGee, Ekoostik Hookah’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, would be sitting in with the band.
The band got it started by tearing though a number of original tunes that got the place bouncing. By the time the band welcomed McGee to the stage with big smiles, the crowd was in an all out party mode. It was obvious the band was tuned in with the crowd, as they took this energy and invested it in a powerful rendition of the signature tune, "Glory". It became immediately obvious that McGee was very familiar with the material as he filled the song with new richness while the keys danced a funky groove on a solid rhythm. The first set closed out with what I would say was the night’s standout tune, "Hyde." The straight up rock tune highlighted what would prove to be the theme, simply extraordinary guitar work by Matt Morton. He vigorously attacked his instrument with new freedom while McGee’s riffs prodded him for more.
After a short break the band took the stage for a second set and kept the high energy going by featuring the fan favorites, “Outside” and “Happy Song”. When McGee was welcomed back to the stage the band settled into a wild rendition of the instrumental jam "Squid". The build-up was so intense at the end of the song, that it seemed they couldn’t continue. This is when I noticed that softly, yet surely, McGee had started playing the Grateful Dead tune "Dark Hollow" underneath the chaotic screams of the other five musicians on stage. Sure enough, they flawlessly segued into the classic allowing everyone in the crowd to finally take a breath. The Shantee’s lead vocalist, Mike Perkins, and McGee took turns swapping verses while Randy Brown’s keys added melodic texture. It then became obvious that McGee was ready to sing a song of his own as he moved front and center and broke into the Hookah tune, "Through Hiker". Screams of joy from the Hookah fans in attendance came as this one opened and I had to take a few steps back to make room for some new dancers. Finally, what I would imagine was an exhausted crowd, was treated to a encore cover of the Blind Melon tune, “Change”. This turned into a fun sing-a-long as the crowd belted out Shannon Hoon’s familiar lyric, “Keep on dreamin boy, cause when you stop dreamin it’s time to die!”
As we filtered out of the venue there were smiles all around. If given the opportunity, do yourself a favor and check out The Shantee sometime. To put it simply, they lay down a positive blend of music that makes you feel fine, and that’s a great thing to find.