Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Maz Metrenko Band

Yesterday afternoon I got a call to help my friend get his gear down to 3rd and Lindsley to sit in with a British rock/blues trio named the Maz Metrenko Band and I was more than pumped to oblige. A British blues/rock trio? At 7 on a Monday? I could be home at a decent hour and still see a show? You got it.

Maz Metrenko, the singer/guitarist/leader of the band shredded through his solos like a blues maniac. He played slide like I hadn't really ever seen before, with a pick and little to no muting from either hand, but it seemed to work for him and rock for us. (Side-note: I hate to see anyone play slide on a Stratocaster but unfortunately I can't just buy everyone a Gibson so I'll just quietly cringe and move on.) Paul the bassist was your classic tall, lanky, solid bass player and was pretty perfect the whole night. He wasn't anything fancy or flashy but he kept the grind going, he was a really nice guy, and he appeared to have supplied his own pint glass. The drummer, Paul, was the focal point for me for most of the set and most of the rest of the audience. I was told he replaced John Bonham when Robert Plant recruited him for Zeppelin. Whether or not that's true I don't know but I do know this guy was pretty great. His ability to wait until the last second to make a move and his Bonham-esque fills were a joy to watch. It looked like every single muscle in his body was flexed but his groove was right on. It was one of those things that made you laugh when he would do something asking "where did that come from?".

They started off with a few originals that were very Stevie Ray Vaughn-y. It was songs about the blues and having the blues and playing the blues. It was pretty generic lyrically but their mazed playing made up for that. Dougie Jones hopped up for a couple of songs on the blues harp in the first set and added his distorted pipes making it all the more soulful. After a short break, Johnny Neel got up on his own and sang one of his newest songs, "Thank God The Good Lord Knows How To Play The Blues", which always makes me shiver with some of those lyrics. With the conclusion of that one, the band returned, along with Dougie on guitar. As per usual, Johnny and Dougie pretty much took over the show and blasted through a few of Dougie's songs and really rocked out. Even with two pretty good guitar players on stage, Johnny ran circles around them playing his synthesized "slide" from his TS-10 keyboard. They ended with a Zappa tune and left us satisfied by about 9:15 which is great on a Monday night.

It was cool to see these Brits playing their version of the blues. I like to see someone be so enthusiastic about something that I sometimes take for granted. They were on a tour of the U.S. that they totally booked and funded themselves, just out of their love of the music. I gotta give them props for doing things on their own terms and having a blast at it. It might not have been the sound of the dirty delta but it was fun and these lads were pretty canny.

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