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Published: 2004/04/27
by Ian Zeitzer

Addison Groove Project, MoonDoggies West, Las Vegas, NV- 4/20

Mentioning April 20th, one of America's newest holidays, to jam music fans brings an immediate smile to their face whether they are high at the time or not. Along with New Years Eve, Halloween, and Independence Day, spring's April 20th marks a day where the freaks come out en masse to celebrate the only way they know how community, music, and marijuana. Despite being a rather relaxing holiday, 4/20/04 could not have come at a worse time for the city of Las Vegas.

Trampled by Phish and pecked by multiple after-shows featuring an assortment of national draws, the town and its local head population really needed a good rest. Normally a Tuesday would not be a party night, even in Sin City, but the calendar knows not of these things. Prior to the announcement of Phish Weekend 2004 the Las Vegas Jam Band Society set up Addison Groove Project's inaugural Vegas show to culminate April 20th 2004. How would the town respond to a high holiday happening on a weeknight right after the weekend's festivities?

A crowd estimated at 150 ebbed and flowed out of Moondoggie's West, undoubtedly retreating to their cars and nearby alleys to enjoy the day. This left plenty of dancing room for those interested in the jazzy and funky grooves thrown down by five high-school friends from Massachusetts. And it would prove an obstacle overcome if the band could keep the crowd away from extracurricular activities and focused on the music at hand. Exhibiting extremely tight arrangements for such a young jamband, AGP most easily filled the makeshift hall of Moondoggie's West when they featured their three-horn army – alto and tenor saxophones and trumpet. After a catchy new song entitled "My Apartment" had the crowd signing along, the Three-Horn Army brought down the house and crystallized a solid first set that even had tenor saxophonist Ben Groppe bobbing around like a buoy adrift in the Pacific.

When not tooting his own horn, guitarist/vocalist Brendan Mcginn helps lay down the rhythm with drummer Andrew Keith and keyboardist Rob Marscher. While their original bassist recovers from cancer, Marscher works Ray Manzarek-like double duty on keys and bass and pulls it off spectacularly. When he is more focused on bass and groove lines, saxophonists Groppe and Dave Adams take the lead, sounding like Tower of Power one minute and a jazz combo the next. This is one jamband who knows how to both write a song and expand their sound to the farthest reaches imaginable. And they make you dance, HARD, even if you just saw three days of Phish and have to be in work at 7:00 AM the next morning.

No trip Las Vegas would be complete without some wedding bells, and for Addison Groove Project it is no exception. Two years to the night, at a 4/20 concert, a couple first met and would eventually fall in love. During set break, a dread-locked man bent down and on one knee changed the life of he, his lovely, 150 or so Las Vegas residents, and Addison Groove Project. "This is first time that has ever happened on one of our stages. We will never forget that, thank you," uttered Mcginn after the champagne toast, before the first dance for the newly engaged union. Through the smoky haze and exhaustion, Las Vegas gave birth to yet another new meaning for April 20th.

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