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Published: 2003/07/31
by Margot Main

New Monsoon, Connecticut Yankee, San Francisco- 7/19


Packing the Connecticut Yankee in San Francisco to maximum capacity on
Saturday, July 19 New Monsoon's overall performance showed their ambition to
continue to raise their own standards and achieve their personal best. The
seven piece unit was so crammed into the small stage area, it was nothing
short of a musician's miracle none of them tripped over each other or into
the audience. In fact, they made their close physical proximity to each
other look spacious. Similarly, even though the band has two guitar
players, three drummers, one keyboard player and one bass player their music
was simultaneously packed with rich notes yet played with a freedom similar
to the energetic sway of a belly dancer's hips.

During the opening, "Wagon Train I" and "II" the relationship between the
band members presented itself. Jeff Miller led guitar and Bo Carper
followed-up on his even though the two weren't able to see each other.
Heath Carlisle on bass and (interestingly) Phil Ferlino on keys both were
the reigns connecting the melody to rhythm. Marty Ylitalo (kit
drummer/comedian), Rajiv Parikh (tablas) and Brian Carey on miscellaneous
percussion put the gallop into the clever compositions.

Crowd pleasing, "On the Sun" got the floor moving in an indie-pop-phishy
kind of way. Their use of alternating tempos and mixing Indian melodies
with pop-grass conventions allowed their songs to be danced to in the style
of somewhere in between a free grassy meadow and a mid-scale urban dance
club. Throughout most of the songs it was clear they were playing like the
movie "Drumline" – "one band, one sound". There were only relatively brief
moments when one player stepped up and others fell back.

One of those moments occurred during an improvised piece ("new jam") when
Jeff Miller and Bo Carper went off into a dual-lead role before Phil Ferlino
turned up and jammed his keyboard work. However, all this led the crescendo
of the alt-indie-grass as the players kicked "Painted Moon" into the sound
barrage of Salsa-Indian-Rock "Calypso".

After a brief break, Rajiv Parikh got the groove back in a big way with a
blistering solo on his hot tablas. The band launched into the festival like
emotion of "Enfuego" and quickly accelerated the pace with another apparent
crowd favorite, "Velvet Pouch". With only a brief pause to wish birthday
fans happiness, the wrapped up the second set just before last call. Cheers
erupted to deafening decibels – New Monsoon had to play an encore. They did
not disappoint and played the cover "Don't Think Twice It's Alright".

By combining different flavors from several aspects of world music (Indian,
Latin, American Rock) New Monsoon creates a sound that is different enough
to be distinguishable; yet, familiar enough to keep people dancing until the
night's close or the new day's dawn.

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