Banjo Man - Tony Furtado Slides Into Winstons

report filed 2/11/01, 6:58 am pst- Finally crossed paths with the Tony Furtado band! Been hearin' good things about Furtado's psychedelic banjo grooves for quite some time and was not disappointed. Far from it. The rocky mountain banjo man's sophisticated, jazzy soundscapes lived up to the hype... and then some.

Steering clear of straight ahead mountain grass or post-fusion jamjazz, Furtado's band (Gawain Mathews on guitar, Eric Thorin on bass, and drummer Marc Dalio) takes a thinking man's approach to their music. Very textural and technically advanced. Don't be fooled though, TFB can rock when they want to. Just ask the couple hundred warm and friendly bodies packed into Winstons for the show on Friday night. Not that there was a whole lotta wild eyed bone shakin' goin' on. Sure, the dance floor was packed, but it was much more of a communal smile and wiggle fest than hot and sweaty, elbow-in-the-ribs disco inferno...

With the crowd totally focused on his every move, the multitalented Furtado kept things interesting throughout the two set performance, at times playing with a bottleneck glass slide or effects pedals as he alternated between a variety of banjos and guitars. Furtado also sang a few tunes. Overall, it was a great performance from a very talented group of musicians. Anyone into Bela Fleck or Gordon Stone will catch a major groove with the Tony Furtado Band.

Meanwhile back at the word factory: managed to pound out a quick flurry of articles for the next issue of Relix, including a too short piece on Barry Bernstein, of Healthy Sounds. A music therapist who's been working with Mickey Hart for over a decade on a variety of 'music and healing' projects, Bernstein is putting together, "Unity With A Beat," a weekend of drum circles and music therapy workshops that will be held in June at the Naropa University in Colorado. Very cool stuff. Look for that article in the April issue of Relix.

Reminder: the current issue of Relix is on the stands (with moe. on the cover), including our features on Bob Weir and Ratdog, as well as Keller Williams.

Speaking of Keller - you don't have to wait for the review of his new CD, Loop, or Government Grown's new release, New Pieces Of Clay. We've also posted, "Food For Thought - Overstuffing 496 Hours Of Holiday Spirit Into A Turkey Named Napster Might Just Cook The Goose That Laid The Musical Egg," our year end column, Points On A Line, for your reading pleasure.

Although not current enough for a full review, we received a couple of CDs too good not to mention. Gypsy Sky is a fine studio effort by Grasshopper Pie, an Americana roots rock outfit with solid songwriting from Columbus, Ohio, and a self titled CD jammed with the southern fried, barefoot boogie of Knoxville, Tennessee's Left Foot Down, is equally enjoyable. Sounds like both of these bands have the goods to throw down some killer live shows - check 'em out if you get the opportunity!

Speaking of live music opportunities, Wise Monkey's side project, the Damn Dirty Apes are opening for Leftover Salmon next week at the '4th & B' in San Diego, and if all goes well, we'll have words and images from the show next time out, as our adventure in music journalism continues...