August West, the weary, homeless man at the center of the Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia tune “Wharf Rat” represents optimism and blind and misguided hope. Guitarist and Singer Jack Devine says, “It’s how we feel when we play. We were just a group of friends here in Brooklyn, looking for an outlet, looking for a release.”
Each member of the group has many years of experience gigging with other bands. They all came together for this project.
Keyboardist and singer Joel Harrison puts it this way. “We all had this music in common and decided to use it as a springboard for our own voices…but with a lot of respect for the source material.”
Weekly acoustic music gatherings at guitarist Rip Westmoreland’s house usually focused on bluegrass and the great American songbook. After five years of the Thursday night acoustic sessions, the thought of plugging in some amps took off. “Next thing you know we had something real. We’d been playing together; so we had the foundation, trust, vocal blend, musical respect and awareness of space that a band needs. Plus we were friends, so it was fun and easy to relate it to these tunes”, says bassist and singer Mark Avnet.
Jack puts it this way…”With Scott Hamilton holding down the drum groove while pushing me as a soloist there’s a beautifully unpredictable element to the improvisational sections of these tunes, plus Rip and I have good guitar karma – he intuitively zigs when I zag type of thing. The real secret weapon is Joel. He lays down the harmonic structure and nails the harmonies. His background in jazz and experimental music really helps keep things fresh. It’s good to have someone who’s ready to get weird at the drop of a hat. I’m more inside; so it’s a real win for me.”
“I told them we should have plugged in a long time ago!”, says Rip. This writer wholeheartedly agrees. Go check out August West when you get a chance. It’s a trip and a treat!
Band website: www.augustwestgd.com