Saturday, June 09, 2007

Demon Run

Charles here -

Last night was the first night of the Rochester International Jazz Fest and before you start chuckling (“Rochester? As in Rochester, New York? International?”), check out the line up – Wynton Marsalis, Madeleine Peyroux, Dr. John, Dave Brubeck, Geri Allen Trio, Eldar, Bill Frisell Trio, James Moody, Bettye Lavette, Randy Becker, Jean Luc Ponty, Trio Beyond…more than 500 artists, 120+ shows. Yeah, it’s Big Time.

So back to last night – I had the honor of introducing one of my favorite bands, The Shuffle Demons, for their performance in The Big Tent, the central venue just outside of the Eastman Theater. The first show was packed – well over 400 folks – the second show started small but built as people were drawn in by the music that even by jazz standards can get a bit out there. Now my Canadian blog mates will recognize the name of one of Canada’s most well-loved jazz bands, but many jazz-savvy Rochesterians had never been Demon-ized before and their show let these folks know what they’ve been missing. The Shuffle Demons combine masterful musicianship with an innovative, wildly imaginative approach that leaves audiences cheering and scratching their heads at the same time. You can read more about them at their website and follow the links to hear samples of their hits. My personal favs include Spadina Bus, Cheese on Bread, and Gabi’s Gimi Suit.

Now why on a blog that’s mostly about mysteries do I bring up this fine band? When Demon George Koller broke into a bass solo that included some form of demented yodeling, a score or more of the crowd fled to the exits – but those who remained were treated to a fun, funny, challenging and ultimately outstanding solo. The band knows that they are not for everyone and have the courage to alienate potential fans/buyers of CDs by staying true to what they believe.

All artists – including mystery authors – need to remember that.

The Shuffle Demons play again tonight on the free stage at 7:15 and 9:15. And guess who gets to introduce them?

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Now this is really interesting. Living in Toronto, I discovered the Shuffle Demons early on. Yeah, they played in some of the clubs, but I caught them REALLY early on.

The main intersection in Toronto is Yonge St. and Bloor St. I was walking up Yonge and heard the theme from "Hawaii Five-0". It was the Shuffle Demons, 3 saxes, a bass player with a Pig Nose amp over his shoulder and a drummer with a cocktail drum set (write if you want to find out what that is).

I stood there for a good half-hour listening to these fabulous street musicians. One of the best performances I've been privileged to hear -- and I've heard A LOT of performances over the years.

Thanks for bringing back some great memories, Charles. Buy me a couple of drinks and I'll tell you the story of how I spent an hour with Eric Clapton -- except that I didn't know he was Eric Clapton until the very end.