Show Reviews

    Hot Day Main Pub

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    Hot Day At The ZooHot Day 2014

    May 29 2015

    The Main Pub, Manchester CT

    By Miles Hurley

     

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    Hot Day At The Zoo is a miracle of modern day bluegrass music–sophisticated, with some expert, classically-minded playing, but a raucus energy to match. “Zoograss” is what they call their creation, and what you can refer to it as when you go check them out. I am very grateful to my ride for the night, and grateful to the band for hammering out three great sets of tunes to an intimate crowd at a bar known as The Main Pub in Manchester, CT, this show is a contender now for favorite I’ve been to this year.

    They opened up with a nice surprise in the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” and a sense of barreling, rock n roll emanated right away. Against a backdrop of a fast, almost swingtime beat, the band immediately showed how tight they were as a unit, with members on mandolin, banjo and guitar starting to solo. The thing that really floored me was how fluidly the soloing situated inside all the rest of the playing. In one moment I’d be hearing a coherent, full-band sound, and the next, without a beat missed, one player would be tearing through some improv that sounded as clean as recorded material. Sometimes, as in “New Camptown Races,” the mandolin player lead the melodies, and other times, as in “Dear Old Dixies” it was the banjo player, and throughout all the rest lead would bounce back and forth between all members.  

    Check out the review of Freekbass at the Main Pub back in January 2015.

    Hot Day’s bass player, Jed Rosen, a founding member of the group, must be mentioned especially because he played like something I’ve never gotten to see, and something you have to see live to appreciate. Keeping alive the art of slap-bass, his hands beat the bass all night long as if the instrument were half a drum, and in this it doubly rounded out things with a huge drum feel. The first set definitely ended on a bang in the originals of “New Shirt,” and then “No Expectations>Cooler Dude.”HotDay2015

    Like other great bluegrass outfits today, Hot Day’s treatment of the genre was at times refreshingly progressive. After a brief break, this came through in original songs of the second set like “Long Way Home,” and “Salt Spring,” really pretty tunes that displayed the band’s americana but also younger sounding side. But then again, the band would jump around, either back into their rocking swing or their classic grass feel in tunes like “Bye Bye Blues,” “Blue Moon,” and “Dixies.” A favorite in this set was “Upstate Girl,” which was slower and extra folky but let the guitar player belt out some really great soloing. And immediately after this tune “Cumberland Blues,” a staple cover, brought back the rock and with it several sublime minutes of melodic magic between the entire band. Act two then closed out strong with another original, “Fire Down The Road.”      

    Check out the preview of the Ziontific festival in Vermont June 19 -22

    Hot Day’s third and final set in the Main Pub this night was a coverfest. And while it smoked anyways, I was all too easily entertained (I usually am) as they played a couple of my favorite bluegrass numbers, including Revival’s “Can’t Stop Now,” Hot Rize’s “Blue Night,” and “Big Country,” which people might know from the likes of revivalist Bela Fleck or even moe. It doesn’t get much more classic than these tunes, and Hot Day knocked each one out of the park, and their tight and intricate playing helping greatly with that. “Country” especially stretched into the pretty jam that its meant to be. A couple more dead tunes followed in Catfish John and Ripple–both of which sounded much more natural to me in the bluegrass style– along with Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” and then an intriguing take on “Let it Be” to end things.

    Check out the preview of the Blue Ox Festival in WI to feature Pert Near Sandstone, Henhouse Prowlers, Del McCoury, Yonder Mountain String Band, Infamous String Dusters and more.

    As the band played through this final set, there was a grand total of maybe eight patrons left at Manchester’s Main Pub. But as I mentioned, the music still smoked, because Hot Day At The Zoo played on as if the place were filled to capacity (in the meantime my companions and I munched on some great Main Pub fare). I had another thought at one point that the band might as well have been at a completely empty bar, playing for only themselves, and they would have probably had the same amount of fun they seemed to have this night. Sometimes one bandmember would be slghtly blown away himself by another’s playing and cheer the leading picker on, other times we caught the banjo player headbanging as he got really into his piece of the place the music was heading, and a few times the band huddle together in a circle as they were all unanimously inspired and zeroed in their breakdowns.

    Of course, intimate crowds are not their usual audience. Last weekend they rocked a set at bustling Strangecreek Campout, up next they’ll headline a bluegrass festival down in Virigina. So, thankfully, plently of people are aware of the power of “zoograss.” My companions and I, again, were too grateful they showed it to us in full form this night.

    Hot Day at the Zoo is: Promo Pic 2014

    Jon Cumming guitar and vocals

    Jed Rosen upright bass and vocals

    Dan Bui mandolin and vocals

    and Ricky Mier on banjo and vocals

     

    Setlist:

    SET 1:

    When I Saw Her Standing There

    Wyoming

    This Old Mountain

    New Camptown Races

    Old Mill

    Elzic’s

    Feet

    Nice Shirt

    No Expectations >

    Cooler Dude   

     

    SET 2:

    Are You Ready

    Pockets

    Dear Old Dixies

    Long Way Home

    Upstate Girls

    Cumberland Blues

    Salt Spring

    Bye Bye Blues

    Blue Moon

    Wheel

    Foggy Mnt. Special

    Fire Down Below

     

    SET 3:

    Can’t Stop Now

    Blue Night

    Catfish John

    Ripple

    Big Country

    Foxy Lady

    Let It Be

     

    To Submit a review for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

    Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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    Check out the preview of the Blue Ox Festival in WI to feature Pert Near Sandstone, Henhouse Prowlers, Del McCoury, Yonder Mountain String Band, Infamous String Dusters and more.