By Andy J. Gordon
Monday night is usually slow at live music venues. The work week has started and not many people have the energy to party late into the night with their alarm clocks set for an early wake up. That did not stop a large group of Phish/Trey fans and curiosity seekers from checking out a show by up and coming band Moksha, who were performing with some special guests. Jennifer Hartswick, Skerik, and Peter Apfelbaum brought their horns for a special night of well crafted music at The Mint.
Moksha (www.mokshatime.com/) is a band out of Las Vegas that may be hard to categorize, but they have a modern sound that easily shifts between rock, jam, funk, reggae, ska and country. The band is John Heishman on bass and vocals; Brian Triola on organ, keys and vocals; Pat Gray on drums and percussion; Jeremy Parks on guitar, lap steel and vocals; Sam Lemos on vocals. No matter what genre they explored, their live performance at The Mint (www.themintla.com/) was a journey of excellent musicianship, excitement and lighthearted fun.
The addition of the world class horn section made the show even more dynamic. Jennifer Hartswick (www.jenhartswick.com/) has been a member of the Trey Anastasio Band (www.trey.com/bands/index.html) for over ten years. Whenever Trey is on hiatus from Phish, his solo project pushes the boundaries of jamband music and Hartswick’s trumpet and vocals contribute significantly to the sound. She also leads her own solo project and has performed with many jam scene artists. Skerik (www.syncopatedtaint.com/,) born Eric Watson, is a tenor and baritone saxophone innovator who has played with virtually everyone in the jazz, funk and jam scene. He is a founding member of Critters Buggin, Garage a Trois and Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet. Peter Apfelbaum hit the jazz scene in the late 1970s. A multi-instrumentalist, Apfelbaum is one of the few artists to appear onstage with both The Grateful Dead and Phish. He has been a saxophonist as part of Trey’s solo bands since 2002.
The Moksha show at The Mint contained a mix of original songs from their recent albums Mammal or Machine and Here To Go, as well as some interesting covers. Apfelbaum did the horn arrangements on Here To Go so the opener “Real Show,” from that album featured some tight horns and tasty solos from both Hartswick and Skerik. “The Seed” came next and the funky jam vibe got the crowd bouncing. It also featured a nice guitar solo by Jeremy Parks. They changed things up for a sweet cover of Beck’s “Sexx Laws.” “Fruit of Tulum,” from Here To Go, was a nice instrumental that sounded like a combination of Jamaican ska and Spanish flamenco. “Starswarm” followed and the trippy sound was enhanced by the horn section. The set ended with a great version of Paul Simon’s “Afterlife” which had haunting guitar and organ lines.
In the second set, a cover of Gram Parsons’ “Ooh Las Vegas” had a fast country edge. “Measure of All Things” from Here To Go was followed by “Island Thyme” and “Blind To The Time” from Mammal or Machine. Island Thyme was an instrumental that had a tropical island feel to it. Blind sounded like a funky, horn infused tune from Deep Banana Blackout. It also had a killer guitar solo from Parks. The show closed with a rousing cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothing.” Hartswick belted out some soulful vocals, the synchronized horns wailed, Apfelbaum blasted a sweet solo and Brian Triola’s organ sounded amazing. The entire band sounded great and it was a fitting end to a highly entertaining show. Not bad for a normally quiet Monday night.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon