Max Creek and Creamery Station
American Beauty New York, NY
January 20, 2017
Review by Colin Capaci and Charles DeWeese with supporting details provided by Kelly D
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What a night it was at American Beauty last Friday!
Making their New York City debut at the famed bar and venue was Creamery Station, a family band from Connecticut that reminded us why we love this music so much. A seven-piece band (eight if you include their mascot Jerry the Alien), traded off solos in true hoedown fashion with deep jams that showed the band’s originality and creativity.
Featured on many solos throughout the night was harmonica player Don Destefano who kept the room on fire. Jim Kadar, the band’s only guitarist, is one of the most impressive I have ever seen. He kept a sophisticated balanced between heavy solo rifts and sexy rhythm styles; there wasn’t any limitation. With a set list mixed with covers, originals, and a bit of hijinks, Creamery Station played a wide range of sounds. Keyboard player Jon Truelson sang a beautiful version of “It Makes no Difference” in the middle of the set to change it up and melt hearts instead of faces. Another memorable moment came when Creamery Station busted out a “West L.A. Fadeaway” to remember. In the deep jam after the second verse, the band really opened up and explored a complex range of grooves which then transitioned into an instrumental version of the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” then transitioning back into “West L.A. Fadeaway.” The crowd was stunned and dancing off the walls with this one.
From the YouTube channel of Creamery Station
Having a robust percussion section really made these tight jams possible featuring Harry Cooper on drums and Michael Ryan on percussion; Dan Raucci on bass kept his fingers moving all night and was featured in a sick rhythm section solo that kept everyone dancing well into the set. . . But the highlight of the night came when the mandolin player and singer, Dylan Kader, the frontman apparent of the group, joined the crowd with his instrument and danced and played on the floor. Having a wireless amp hook-up made this possible as he added the funky and sometimes mysterious sounds we all love from the mandolin, adding a rich element to the band’s sound with solos and tight rhythm. You haven’t heard a mandolin featured in a band like this before. At one point Kader even climbed into the famous dancing cages mounted on the walls of American Beauty, sharing the cage with the aforementioned mascot Jerry the Alien. The crowd was fun and the band killed it.
I, for one, am so hyped about this band and can’t wait to see them again in the New York City area. I want to thank Creamery Station for a great night, Relix Magazine for putting on the show, and American Beauty for hosting them!
Max Creek was up next. Mega-fan Charles DeWeese was there with a full report. . .
American Beauty is the name of the second Grateful Dead album to come out in 1970. Max Creek is the name of one of the two greatest jam bands in the world, who started in 1971. The other greatest jam band is the Grateful Dead. Max Creek won a Connecticut Music award in 2015 for best jam band. There were many parallels between these two bands as Max Creek returned Friday evening to New York City for the first time since doing a show at Mercury Lounge 2 years ago. The people came out to see the show came from as far away as North Carolina and Maryland as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The show was sponsored by Relix Magazine, whose record label out of Brooklyn launched Max Creek’s fourth album in 1986 called Windows.
A Max Creek show is a place to catch up with old friends. This is the 30th year since I first saw Max Creek at Lupo’s in Providence, RI back in the day.
The show started off with Mark Mercier opening up with a gripping rendition of “Ring Them Bells” by Bob Dylan from the 1989 album Oh Mercy. It was music I love sung and played by Mark Mercier, whom I love and respect. Did you know he won an award for best keyboardist in Connecticut? Other highlights were “She’s Here” sung and written by Scott Murawski, one of the world’s top guitarists.
The shows bring back some nostalgia. I remember seeing that song performed for the first time back in 1988. I met up with my buddy Dan Slater, whom I’ve known for 30 years. We delighted ourselves in saying to the soundboard man, “Turn Scott up!” If you are gonna hear Scott, you need to hear him cranked up in all its glory. Lori, Mark Mercier’s wife, was saying “Turn Mark DOWN.” Eventually, the mix was right and the journey further continued into a sparkling rendition of classic Creek.
I shouted out “Dark Water” as a request and then they played it. Max Creek has some really good songs that are well-written and fun to sing. Max Creek covers some artists such as Bob Dylan, The Band and the Grateful Dead but their original music is very strong. They played “Emotional Railroad” off the 1982 box set Drink the Stars which was recorded in Cell Block Eleven in Hartford, Connecticut back when Bob Gosselin was the drummer and a founding member. Bob Gosselin told me to tell everyone he says hi before I went to the show. In case I missed you, Bob says “Hi.”
“Emotional Railroad” is one of the best Creek songs. The song features skillful guitar solos and keyboard solos drenched in groove. This may be the grooviest song ever. Scott Murawski said he wrote while driving on the highway in New York back in 1981 if my memory serves me correctly. Most Creek songs are about 15 minutes each or longer because the band improvises, chases the muse, and takes risks to see where the music will lead. You may even hear a Beatles number like “I Saw Her Standing There,” which they played that night. The setlists are always different. They are unpredictable. This makes them fascinating. Every show is different. There are no two shows alike. See for yourself.
Bill Carbone, the drummer for the last six years sang “The Man in Me,” another Bob Dylan classic. The song captured the feeling that Bob Dylan brought to it back in 1970 on the New Morning LP. One thing is certain, “the Dude abides.” Yes, the same song is featured in the movie The Big Lebowski. Jay, the percussionist, also sang “Into the Ocean” and broke out a rap. There are so many different kinds of music Max Creek plays. The band even did a Grateful Dead song, “Scarlet Begonias.” That is always a pleasure to hear.
I grew up in Granby, CT and heard of Max Creek for a long time before I ever heard of them, When I first heard them on April 8, 1987, I was blown away. I was addicted and started seeing them every week. So, if you haven’t heard them and seen them, go out and do so. They are a lot better than many other more famous bands. Oh, and did I mention Bob Gosselin, the original drummer, says hi?
The venerable rock jam band headlined with an epic set, detailed here:
Photo by Charles DeWeese
Ring Them Bells
Who Do You Love
Something is Forming
Feels Like Falling
Feets Don’t Fail Me Now
The Man in Me
Said and Done
I Saw Her Standing There
Down in the Jungle
Full audio of Max Creek’s set available here:
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