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Published: 2006/09/15
by Dan Alford

Herring, Rodgers, Sipe, Fountain, Mexicali Blues, Teaneck, NJ- 8/10

hen a gig billed as “Herring, Rodgers and Sipe” opens with “How Many People Know Fountain?” in reference to the fourth player (bassist Neil Fountain), you know it’s going to be a fun night. The quartet of Col. Bruce alumni served up two sets of roots boogie and classic, first wave style jamming, drawing on Bobby Lee Rodgers’s vast catalogue of silly songs and bitter and beautiful ballads. Some of the material, such as the “Same Thing” first set closer was familiar Codetalkers territory, but was balanced out with a good dose of newer songs, lengthy improvised introductions and protean cores. Jimmy Herring was knocking the crowd to its knees over and over with phenomenal solos and comping, but the center of the storm in many ways remained Fountain. The Modulus toting musician played rich, rumbly bass throughout the night, often harmonizing with himself over the six strings, chasing down Jimmy’s leads and dishing out solos worthy of his musical heritage and coconspirators.

In the night’s penultimate jam, an icy smooth river groove shifted and doubled back on itself, falling into a circus parade with Jimmy playing an appropriately goofy, clean lead, and Fountain again became part of the material. Bobby Lee was suddenly at the mic singing, then growling, shouting and going fully operatic with “When I was a little boy, I went to Coney Island with Fountain!” Such a bizarre and funny, and creepy moment. A grumbly bass solo tilted high and set the quartet on a space funk adventure, Bobby Lee again overlaying vocals of “Foun-tain.” It was golden age jamming, like something from 1993, Col. Bruce’s much ballyhooed tutelage fully realized, which is to say brought into an unencumbered self of its own.

It was also a treat to see Jeff Sipe in his element. It is such a shame that a younger generation, or simply those new to jambands, got a first taste of the drummer in Phil Lesh and Friends, where he was staid and impossibly trying to fill John Molo’s shoes. Here he was screeching across cymbals with the head of a drumstick, tapping out rhythms on the stand for a cowbell rather than the cowbell itself, jabbing out anti-rhythms across the face of his kit, playing with bare hands and generally looking surprised at the sounds he was producing. We get many, many super groups in jamnation, but more often than not they appear as one off events or mini tours that don’t amount to much. This one is different: a real band with real talent and real potential.

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