Thrills and Chills in Abundance
This was a show I decided to attend merely because it sounded interesting – a Boston-based musician and friends performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller on Halloween afternoon. What could be bad about that?
As it turned out, it was a fantastic show that I would have been disappointed to miss. The musician who assembled his friends was drummer Sean Trischka; if his name sounds familiar, that is probably because his father is the famed bluegrass banjo player Tony Trischka. Sean is quite talented and his own style is not bluegrass despite being surrounded by it as a child.
The show started with Sean ‘Michael Jackson’, Stash ‘Eddie Van Halen’ Wyslouch (he has his own band) on guitar and Nate ‘Abe Lincoln’ Sabat (of Mile Twelve) on bass playing one of Sean’s tunes from his debut album, The Shuffle. (Remember, this was a Halloween show.)
From there, they launched into Thriller. I spoke with Sean’s mother after the show and learned that pop music is one of Sean’s great loves and it was evident in the way he lovingly treated the material. I do not know if there were fiddles or banjos on the album as recorded by Jackson, but those instruments were an excellent addition to the music.
The friends rotated on and off the stage, and included Greg Liszt (The Deadly Gentlemen) on banjo, Dietrich ‘IT’ Strause (he has his own band) on keyboard, Isa ‘Dolly Parton’ Burke (Lula Wiles) on fiddle and vocals, Jenna ‘Zombie’ Moynihan (Jenna Moynihan and Mairi Chaimbeul) on fiddle and vocals, Michele Beneforti in guitar, Kellen ‘Social Grace’ Zakula on vocals, Maggie Gearan on vocals, Mike ‘Arkansas Wal-Mart Shopper’ Block on cello, Sumaia Jackson on fiddle, Mairi ‘Zombie’ Chaimbeul (Jenna Moynihan and Mairi Chaimbeul) on harp, and Matt Smith providing the evil and spooky laughter.
Each of these musicians added much depth to the music; I especially enjoyed the rotating vocalists. Since none sounded exactly like Jackson, this made sense although Sean did most of the lead vocals. I was struck by how much fun they were having. I thought it might have been stressful to perform such an iconic album, but none of them appeared to be tense. There were a couple of minor missteps, but none marred anyone’s enjoyment.
The show ended with another song from Sean’s album. The well-filled room (especially for an afternoon show on a holiday) gave Sean and friends a standing ovation that was much-deserved. All I saw in this audience were smiling faces and lots of head-bobbing!
I hope this becomes a tradition! I would attend this show every year.