New Mastersounds to play at Old Town Pub tonight
July 9, 2010
Steamboat Springs — The stage is more than a venue for performance for The New Mastersounds.
It also serves as a rehearsal space in which to explore old improvisations and forge into new musical territory before the crowd's eyes.
After playing together for more than 10 years, the four-piece funk jam band can switch gears with the slight nod of a head or the raise of an eyebrow, drummer Simon Allen said.
"It usually indicates if the crowd trusts us and we trust them," Allen said about the level of improvisation at each show. "Some kind of relationship is formed off facial expressions and their appreciative cheering. Then, we can go explore."
Occasionally, the band — comprising Allen on drums, Eddie Roberts on guitar, Pete Shand on bass and Joe Tatton on keyboard — will find itself in a groove it's never practiced.
But that's because the musicians rarely practice, with band members' homes spread between England and Spain when they're not touring.
But Allen said the raw nature of their compositions and the occasional flub humanize their live performances.
When the band messes up, "you can see an exchange of looks in the band," he said. "It's almost just as entertaining. It's like, 'Oh, they're making it up. They're just human.'"
The New Mastersounds will play at Old Town Pub tonight. Tickets are $15, and the show opens with Springdale Quartet at 8 p.m.
Old Town Pub general manager Kurt Vordermeier said tonight would mark the fourth time The New Mastersounds have played there.
"It's a lot of fun; it's a dance party," Vordermeier said. "Each time they've played here, we've picked up a little more steam."
He said the band enjoys coming to Steamboat Springs, where guitarist Roberts learned to ski.
"We love Steamboat," Allen said. "It's just so beautiful, and everyone is always very friendly."
And, Vordermeier said, Steamboat Springs likes them back.
"Everyone that sees them loves them and are excited that they're coming back," he said.
The Mastersounds, who travel to the United States about 10 times a year for a few weeks at a time, are coming off of a performance at High Sierra Music Festival.
Allen said there is a certain thrill associated with large outdoor crowds, but the band is equally at home in a small bar venue.
"You're not as connected with the music because it's coming through this big P.A.," he said about playing festivals. "It's kind of hard to tell what's coming across."
But, in a smaller venue, Allen said there's a relationship between the band and the crowd.
"People just love watching musicians play," he said. "That's kind of what we're about — the interplay between us on stage having fun and them."
It's an interplay that The New Mastersounds discovered as regulars on the jam band scene in the United States, which Allen said is unique to the country.
"We really hardly play England at all anymore," he said. "So many people have live music as a priority in their life (in the United States) rather than an optional leisure activity. It seems to be woven into the fabric of the culture much more strongly here."
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