Chuck Magid, Oxford Noland, The Reality Rattle Crowbar
Photos soon, but this cannot wait!
Dear Orlando: Please don’t make the same mistake that Tampa made Thursday night (December 19). Too damn few people were there at Crowbar to witness a thunderously awesome evening of pure rock and roll. The X-Mas Rager is Saturday at Will’s Pub with Chuck Magid, Oxford Noland, and Jordan Foley and the Wheelhouse. DON’T MISS IT.
Tampa’s The Reality got the night off to a magical start with a next-level set. These boys have been raising the ante every time they play, and this was absolutely no exception. They opened, delightfully, with a short version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” sung by guitarist Dan Jones, before they slid into “She’s Too High,” one of their excellent way-uptempo originals. There was a hip hop element to “Perfect People” before they speed-shifted up a couple gears into new tune “Wanna See You Dance.”
Suddenly, that morphed into a video game theme or something. Something? Caleb Bone (bass) has a stunning voice, and when he started singing “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” well, there were smiles all around. This was really powerful (no pun intended), as drummer B.A. Jones drove the beat, as he did all set long. There was a huge jam before returning to the theme.
Bone then sang a brand new composition of his titled “What Makes Me Happy,” a funky slower tune that added yet another dimension to the band’s range. And that led immediately to their finale, “Sweet Tooth,” with Dan whipping out his trusty trombone (no flames, though). This song is magical, and Josh Kim really tore this up on keyboards. WOW!
[THE REALITY: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch > She’s Too High, Perfect People, Wanna See You Dance, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, What Makes Me Happy > Sweet Tooth]
Oxford Noland, it turns out, is a duo featuring Aaron ‘Bucky’ Buckingham on drums AND keyboards, synth bass, and vocals and his cousin Joshua ‘Shua’ Harrell on guitar and vocals. Shua handles lead vocals. Buckingham played drums with right hand and his feet and keyboards and synth bass with left, occasionally drums with both hands, sometimes keyboards with both. It was a fascinating concept, but we were all blown away by how effective it was.
Photographer Arielle D’Ornellas, who had also covered their show in Jacksonville, described their music as indie grunge, which was a good starting description, as their set went in multiple directions. Harrell’s voice is pure and perfect for this group, and his guitar playing was solid if not flashy. They worked through a number of songs from their album released in August and newer material as well.
This was an amazingly strong performance. Buckingham is a powerhouse drummer formerly with The Groove Orient, one of Florida’s best jam bands until they called it a day at Orange Blossom Jamboree. His work with one stick was truly impressive. He and Harrell told stories between songs and delighted a crowd of fans. Every song in this set seemed to work well.
That went double for an excellent new song titled “Rooftops” that really ripped; when it was done, there were numerous requests for them to “play it again!” They closed their set with another great song called “Spitting Verbs.” These boys are scheduled for Whig Fest in February. Be sure to check them out.
[OXFORD NOLAND: Beggars, Shades, Sad Revelation, Coyotes, Stones and Feathers, Save Arlene, Untitled, Rooftops, Spitting Verbs]
So far, we were two for two in the rockin’ category. What would we get from Chuck Magid and band? Answer: great ’60s- and ’70s-style rock and roll — on steroids!
Magid was frontman of the aforementioned Groove Orient, singing and playing guitar. Buckingham is part of this quartet as well, two-handed drums this time. Colin Fel, excellent keyboard player for another powerhouse band who just threw down at Suwannee Hulaween: Thomas Wynn and the Believers, was there, and Glenn Kastrinos played a really cool-looking bass with brightly colored strings. This is the quartet who played on Traveling Home, Magid’s EP which is officially released today for the X-Mas Rager (although it was available on shows during this run).
In case we might have forgotten just what Magid has to offer, he and the band came roaring out instantly with a smokin’-hot “Power of a Flower,” the first track on Traveling Home. Magid scorched a guitar solo on “Ain’t Messin’,” where the steroids really kicked in. They took off their foot off the gas — briefly — as “To Be With You” began, but surely enough it too eventually kicked ass. That one is also on Traveling Home.
“Bounce” was a killer instrumental rocker with Buckingham stepping up, then Kastrinos on space bass. At this point it reminded of glorious ’60s and ’70s rock and roll right when Magid steered the jam into Mars Bonfire’s “Born to Be Wild,” the massive Steppenwolf anthem that spawned the term “heavy metal.” But this was the band’s distinctive spin on the tune. Then they twisted it into “The Pusher,” almost unrecognizable but a really great take on another powerful song also from that debut Steppenwolf album. It even rolled briefly through “Mountain Jam,” the Allman Brothers’ variation of Donovan’s “There is a Mountain.”
Two more songs from Traveling Home appeared next. “Such a Situation” was fine, and “Broken Man,” which Magid performs solo on the album, is given a tender band treatment with a nice slide guitar solo.
They launched immediately into a rollicking barrelhouse rocker which emerged as “Deal,” the Jerry Garcia staple that worked its way into many Grateful Dead setlists. From there was an entirely different arrangement of Led Zep’s “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?” and that became “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” the Traffic tune, Fel’s Hammond B3 all over this. Then a wild instrumental take on “Manic Depression” (Hendrix) emerged, Magid “singing” the lyrics on guitar with Kastrinos huge on bass. Finally, it rolled back into “Deal” with a brief Buckingham drum feature.
The group’s best vocal harmonies appeared on the closing “Rock N Roll,” also the last track on the EP. It began easy but then rocked out to finish an excellent night of rock and roll. This band has a lot to say, and we look forward to more live music and more recordings.
[CHUCK MAGID: Power of a Flower, Ain’t Messin’, To Be With You, Bounce > Born to Be Wild > The Pusher > Mountain Jam, Pattern, Such a Sensation, Broken Man, Deal > Hey, Hey, What Can I Do? > Mr. Fantasy > Manic Depression > Deal, Rock N Roll]