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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2007/08/11
by Tim Newby

The Bridge, Dogfish Brewery, Rehoboth Beach, DE- 7/21 & 8×10 Club, Baltimore, MD- 7/25

When conversations turn to music and bands, invariably someone brings up how they
saw so and so band back in the day before they made it big, usually at some small
club with a crowd that numbered in the low hundreds or less. To be able to witness
a group on the verge of moving to another level is always a special thing. To take
their music to that next step bands need a combination of unlimited musical potential,
unbridled energy and a personality that makes people to want to be part of what
they are doing.

Baltimore’s The Bridge is a band that is at that point, ready to move to another
level from small club to theatre, from side stage to main, from opener to headliner,
and over two very different shows in two very different venues, all the traits that
are needed to make those moves were on display.

On a Saturday night at the Dogfish Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with the
excitement still dripping off them from a main stage slot at the previous weekends
All Good Festival, that included a late-night sit-in for guitarist Cris Jacobs and
Kenny Liner (mandolinist/beatbox) with moe., The Bridge played a show that showcased
the band's ability to draw in a crowd and make them feel instantly at home.

Playing to a mixed crowd of casual fans checking out the band for the first time,
beach tourists looking for something to do on a Saturday night, and hardcore fans
who had made the not-so long of a trip from Baltimore to the beach, they quickly
won the crowd’s confidence and got everyone in the place up and moving over towards
the small stage tucked away in the back. Their first set mixed in some reliable
favorites, “Further to Roam,” “Easy Jane,” and “Pakalolo” with a couple of newer
tunes “Dirtball Blues” and monster-in-the-making “Heavy Water.” The highlight of
the set was the Van Morrison song “Cleaning Windows.” A good test of a band’s powers
is their ability to wear other’s compositions, yet make them fit and seem like their
own and with this version of “Cleaning Windows,” The Bridge certainly accomplished
this task.

The second set opener was a snug fit as well, Los Lobos’ "Dream in Blue."
The rest of the night was a loose affair, with the band having no planned setlist,
instead making it up on the fly, yet still building a seamless performance that
so excited the crowd that a number of girls decided to move their party on stage,
forcing sax player Patrick Rainey to seek shelter on the drum riser.

A few nights later back in the cozy confines of their home base at the 8×10 Club
in Baltimore, The Bridge showed why they have been gaining so much attention of
late and Jacobs has been getting so much well deserved praise for his guitar skills.
At the show in Delaware, the band showed how they could win over any crowd with
their infectious songs and welcoming personality, avoiding some of the longer jams
and segues they have become known for, instead focusing on the songs themselves.
At their weekly residency show at the 8×10, they showed how they can even get the
most jaded fan up and moving with innovative and creative jams.

With keyboardist Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh & Friends) sitting
in all evening, the Bridge fattened up their sound and playing with unbridled energy
took off on a mind-blowing expedition early in the night with a bluesy “Brother
Don’t” that moved into “Jomotion" > "Fiyo on the Bayou” before finding
its way to “Brother Don’t”. In a conversation with the band a few months ago, bassist
Dave Markowitz spoke about how he wanted the group to have, “more of those inspirational
moments where we find things in jamming.” After the way they worked through “Brother
Don’t,” with Markowitz and drummer Mike Gambone laying down deep, seemingly bottomless
grooves that Jacobs worked over with a soulful intensity, it is safe to say they
found that inspiration.

Keeping with the same pattern they have established for their long-running Wednesday
night Summer residency shows, they played a long single set that allowed them the
freedom to open-up and work through a wide-range of their repertoire. Thus, The
Bridge moved from a song with a deep blues based feel (the aforementioned “Brother
Don’t”), into a funkier region (“Agua Y Vida”), than just a suddenly into a spirited
bluegrass shuffle (an unnamed song that Liner ended by saying, “I wrote this last
week and we just decided to play it right now.”) They easily added a beatbox solo
onto the end of a piercing guitar run, that yielded a crushing bass line you could
feel vibrating in your feet, before breaking into a simple sparse tune with just
Liner, Jacobs, and Markowitz on stage.

Each show offered a chance to witness the different sides of The Bridge, the small,
party atmosphere in Delaware that saw the band playing as almost one of the crowd talking and joking with the people around them as they rocked the small stage.
Then a few days later with a sold-out show at the 8×10, segueing through songs that
seemed unrelated and doing it with ease, mixing in all the diverse elements that
define this band.

It is easy to see why The Bridge is at the point when everything is exploding around
them, and they are soon going to be on bigger stages with bigger crowds. So go
see them now, because one day as conversations turn towards music and bands and
someone mentions The Bridge you can say how you saw them back in the day when they
were a band on the verge of that special moment.

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