A rapid-fire spoken-word piece toward the end of the live set that constitutes The Get Right Band’s upcoming release (their fourth), “Live in Asheville,” speaks volumes about guitarist, frontman and principal songwriter Silas Durocher:
“You look like sunlight, sunlight in a sundress. / But who wears a sundress in the middle of a hurricane? / You are like civil unrest, a well-worded complaint, / A letter to the editor that the weather should’ve been better.”
Durocher’s verbal gymnastics are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is so much going on in these 13 tracks recorded live at the eponymous Asheville Music Hall in NC, that it can be a head-spinning, genre-glancing ride. But, oh what a trip. Settle in and buckle up.
The three gifted musicians, Durocher on guitars/lead vocals, JC Mears on drums and bassist Jesse Gentry, effortlessly shift from straight-up garage rock, to rock-steady reggae, to ska and improvisational jazz, to glam-rock and back around again.
Durocher looks harmless enough in person, but he’s a guitar assassin, a pure killer with six strings which he fires off on a wicked, frenetic and Coltrane-worthy solo for “Shut Yo’ Mouth,” a thumping, Hendrix-esque stomp about the dangers of paying lip service with empty promises: “You best be careful what you promise me. I got a damn good memory.”
The thrilling ride shifts gears like a Murcielago LP-640 on the next track, “Touch the Holy” (from the band’s 2013 EP “Shake”) with trippy, psychedelic guitar, mesmerizing tantric rhythms, and jazz-influenced extended solos from all three musicians, all while staying firmly rooted in a rock-steady beat. Just past halfway there is an eerie “Tubular Bells” vibe – goosebumps arise, call a priest – giving the entire track a hypnotic energy. Like all good live albums, the crowd’s applause and wild screams at the end remind us this is a performance, and this crowd sounds absolutely enthralled with the repeated line “If we keep singing, the sun will never go down,” which feels like a mantra.
Not only are these guys phenomenal studio musicians and live performers, they’re also incredibly brave. It takes some major cojones, along with supreme self-confidence and humor, to cover a pop music classic like The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”, the flagship song of the 80’s MTV generation, and make it their own. The Get Right Band gets it right, wrestling the bubblegum pop tune into a garage rock romp and then seamlessly into funky ska bounce.
“Nothing on the FM” is a sly metaphor for the search for meaning (and good songs on the radio — are there any?), trust and belief. “Remember when MTV played videos? Remember everything we learned at record stores? Give me a song with soul.” It’s a poetic call to slow down, find meaning and return to the authentic aural experiences of vinyl, and the raw joy of discovery on musical airwaves, moments that are still accessible if you know where to look.
“Requiem for the Chemical Memory” opens with what sounds like a French film sample (maybe?) and is pure psychedelia. A selection from the excellent 2015 album “Who’s In Charge?” the song features a guitar solo worthy of Zappa.
The Jesse Gentry-composed “Dancin’ Shoes” is pure unadulterated funk and jazz, with bass and guitar solos that briefly echo that of Dave Holland and John McLaughlin on Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson sessions (“Duran” – take 6 comes immediately to mind), while JC Mears’ “Drums,” showcases his deft and powerful talent. No doubt, this is one super-tight band.
In the closer, “The Carpenter’s Daughter”, Durocher crafts DIY home improvement into metaphors for relationship challenges, making order out of chaos when nothing but chaos may ensue.
“If you can fix me honey, be my guest. But I should warn you, that I’m a mess. / Only a carpenter’s daughter could have known, I take my wooden heart and build a wooden home. / Please put your nails in me, your screws and glue, and join the angles between me and you.”
Circling back to the brilliant (pun intended) spoken-word “You Look Like Sunlight,” if you ever see The Get Right Band live in concert, you should shout this out in request. This band is certainly no juke box and may rightfully ignore you, but it’s totally worth asking.
The album drops January 26 with a CD-release party in the sacred space of Ambrose West in West Asheville, NC.
2019 TOUR DATES:
Fri., Jan 25
185 King Street – Brevard, NC
Sat., Jan 26
Ambrose West – Asheville, NC
Fri., Feb 1
Dogtown Roadhouse & The Sun Music Hall – Floyd, VA
Sat., Feb 02
The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room – Johnson City, TN
Wed., Feb 13
Straightaway Cafe & Pub – Black Mountain, NC
Fri., Feb 15
Gottrocks – Greenville, SC
Thu., Feb 21
The Purple Onion – Saluda, NC
Sat., Mar 02
Boojum Brewing Co. Taproom – Waynesville, NC
Fri., Mar 15
Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA