Live Review: Massy Ferguson Heats Up Tagaris Winery
I needed a clone or three last weekend. Concerts and CD release parties criss-crossed the Seattle map. We chose to leave the Seattle area, though, and visited some friends in Tri-Cities. Massy Ferguson was in Richland and played two nights at Tagaris Winery. It turned out to be a fun outing on a scorching hot (for Washington) weekend. We soaked in that dry heat with the hope of saving a little warmth for the impending winter gloom, and we enjoyed the company of good friends and terrific music.
Tagaris Winery is one of three wineries nestled closely together on the outskirts of town. They serve appetizers, a gourmet lunch and dinner, have happy hour specials, signature wines, beer, and cocktails. The covered “Taverna” includes ceiling fans, a big screen TV, bar seating, and is open to the elements. There is also an air conditioned indoor dining area. The courtyard or “Patio Kouzina”, is filled with round metal tables and chairs and accommodates bands on the weekends during the summer. Families are welcome here to enjoy the music and food. Trees, beautiful shrubbery and potted flowers lined the courtyard. As the sun set, the floodlights and white tree lights set the mood for the beautiful evening. It was still hovering near 100 degrees after the sun went down, and the heat radiated from the aggregate concrete.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Massy Ferguson. I guess that’s a sign that I enjoy this band. Their music spans many genres from Americana, roots, folk, twang rock, alt-country, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. The music is two-step friendly, and dancing is always encouraged. Their front man and bassist Ethan Anderson is bound to say at least one funny remark at each gig. He also invites random audience members on stage to help with singing, dancing or cowbell near the end of the set. If there is time, he brings out the flute, which is always a treat.
Massy Ferguson opened the giant three-hour set with “Pretty Plain Jane”, a favorite of mine off the album Hard Water. Throughout the night, they mixed songs from their three current CD’s as well as new music which will be on an upcoming album scheduled for a fall release. I’m looking forward to the new album. One lively new song, “2 AM Beauty Queen” will be a welcome addition to their catalog. On top of all that, they also managed to play several covers.
Just a few songs into the set, the band was soaking with sweat. The triple digit heat never let up until late into the night. Ethan commented it was drummer Dave Goedde’s fault: “The drummer always makes the band sweat! He drives us forward.” Dave certainly had his work cut out for him this evening, and they didn’t slow down except for a couple of quick breaks. I am pretty sure he and the rest of the band lost several pounds in sweat alone by the end of the show. Eventually a nice warm breeze picked up. Ethan mentioned that they requested a wind machine in their “rider” . He also added that they swam in the river that day and requested that there be no cold spots, as specified in the rider. Adam Monda, the guitarist quipped that he found a warm spot in the river next to Ethan. Throughout the energetic performance, Adam Monda switched deftly back and forth between a beautiful Taylor acoustic, a new Epiphone Dot and Fender Telecaster. Adam was fun to watch and had several fiery solos throughout the long set.
The goatee-sporting Tony Mann lit up the keys on “Secondhand” from their first album, Cold Equations. A solitary couple braved the seated crowd and slow danced near the stage. “Let’s hear it for the dance floor!” yelled Ethan. Tony also brought out the cowbell in the middle of “She’s Got You Beat”, from their Damaged GoodsEP. Another dancing couple joined the party. We were amused watching the older man wriggle and throw his arms around to the music.
The Tagaris winery crowd, although it was a relaxed and casual atmosphere, seemed to be pretty quiet. I think the stagnant heat and the older demographic might have had an influence on their demeanor. About halfway through the set, they played “Powder Blue”, an audience participation song. By this time the remaining audience receded to the back tables. He pleaded and yelled at them to sing along on cue and said, “It’s Saturday night, for heaven’s sake!”
Another couple of classic covers included “The Weight” was dedicated to Levon Helm (R.I.P.) and Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright”. Tony sang lyrics on the latter and did a splendid job. In the middle of the song, they knitted in Sublime’s “What I Got” with the lyric slightly altered to “I can play the guitar like a somethin’-somethin’ riot” and kept the language family-friendly.
Massy Ferguson slowed down the tempo with the title track from Cold Equations. As I settled back in my chair, I envisioned the pleasant sound rolling along over the surrounding fields and vineyards.
Ethan managed to get the audience on their feet at the end of the long night by requiring all of them to come up to the front immediately, and that he needed at least four women to join them on stage for dancing. He brought out the flute again and finished the night with Men At Work’s “Down Under” and had everyone dancing, finally. It was a perfect way to close the show and send everyone home with a smile.