Freakin’ Dreamin’ Groovefest Rocks Skipper’s Smokehouse 08.27.22

Freakin’, Dreamin’ Groovefest had a superb night in its return from hiatus to Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa Saturday, August 27, with a great night of music, brought to you by WMNF’s Trip Strip, the Tie-Dyed lineup of great rock music. All of the hosts of the three shows in the Tuesday night schedule were there for The Freak Show, The Dream Clinic, and In the Groove. (Full disclosure: I occasionally guest host on In the Groove.)

 

The Battered Chicken Band (BaChiBa) 

First up were The Battered Chicken Band (BaChiBa). If you in the Tampa area are unfamiliar, it is because this was the band’s ninth show! The familiar face on stage was Michael Bortz, whose Uncle John’s Band has graced this stage more than 1100 times. He was joined by a tight band who roared through so great music from the ’70s (and a newer gem).

The Battered Chicken Band. 📷: Dennis Stone

They blasted off with a smokin’ “Tie Your Mother Down.” The lead vocalist for many of the songs was Devora Goldman, who was very impressive, especially on songs originally sung by men. Ed Mulhall, who also plays guitar, sang “Love Me Two Times,” which featured a fine electric piano solo by Bryan Douglas. 

At this point, the sound was a little louder than it needed to be for a partly full Skipperdome. It would improve later. Devora absolutely rocked “The Real Me,” and we got the best indication so far of the prowess of Bill Goldman on bass; he was a beast! Mulhall took lead vocal on “White Room,” and the chorus harmonies with Devora were delicious! Lead guitarist Jim Hranicky had been rocking all set, but he really stepped up here.

The Battered Chicken Band. 📷: Dennis Stone

“Burn” featured another great guitar solo and Douglas on that Jon Lord organ, with more fine harmony vocals. Devora CRUSHED “Heartbreaker > Livin’ Lovin’ Maid.” “Helter Skelter” also rocked. Bill Goldman and Bortz built a huge platform for the others the entire set. They changed things up with the fine Evanescence tune “Wake,” Devora, Mulhall, and Bortz on vocals (Bortz sang on other songs as well).

The Battered Chicken Band. 📷: Dennis Stone

Working toward the finale, they blew out a fine “Kashmir,” Mulhall’s vocals his best of the set. Douglas was brilliant on synths. We had a sing-along on the “la, la, la, la, la, la” portion of “The Rain” before Devora had her finest moment belting “Black Dog.” Their closing tune was a delightful rendition of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” with Mulhall and Devora batting it back and forth. THEY ARE FUN!

[BaChiBa: Tie Your Mother Down (Queen), Love Me Two Times (The Doors), The Real Me (The Who), White Room (Cream), Burn (Deep Purple), Heartbreaker > Livin’ Lovin’ Maid, Helter Skelter, Wake (Evanescence), Kashmir (Led Zeppelin), The Rain (Led Zeppelin), Black Dog (Led Zeppelin), Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meatloaf)]

The Snozzberries 

The Snozzberries from Asheville actually ventured once to the Tampa Bay area years ago, playing at Dunedin Brewery, but this was their first time in ages bringing their high-energy psychedelic rock back to Florida. 

Stunning!

The Snozzberries – 08.27.22. 📷: Thor Bendicksen

The quartet blasted off at 90 MPH with a song justifiably titled “Slamma Jamma.” If you can picture that guy sitting in the chair in the old Maxell ads, you’ve got a pretty good idea how almost everyone looked. This was the first Snozzberries show for all but a handful in attendance. Tom Laws of Get Laws’t Entertainment drove in from Jacksonville for his first show!

Ethan Heller & Jerard Sloan – The Snozzberries – 08.27.22. 📷: Dennis Stone

They were relentless, driven by Jerard Sloan on drums and Asher Hill bass. Ian Taylor was pouring on clavinet and synths while Ethan Heller offered chunky guitar chords. Hill took a powerful solo, followed by Taylor on electric piano before Heller’s guitar exploded, with Hill right along with him.

DAMN! Put these guys in the same conversation with Spafford and Goose. This was incredible. “Biting Through” was slightly less frantic, Heller on vocals. The song mellowed — briefly — before blowing up again.

Asher Hill – The Snozzberries – 08.27.22. 📷: Dennis Stone

The four members of The Snozzberries were beaming, and they next roared into “Have a Cigar” (instrumental)! This turned into a romp, as they twisted the Pink Floyd song into “That’s It for The Other One,” with a great clavinet solo, then synths, and then electric piano. That yielded to a killer instrumental take on “Eleanor Rigby,” way, way uptempo, before finally returning to “Cigar.”

Ethan Heller – The Snozzberries – 08.27.22. 📷: Dennis Stone

“Snitchin’ Randy” was mind-blowing prog rock, mellowing out briefly before an all-out blast-off with an electric piano section skyrocketing into Heller and some great fretboard guitar work. Just before they began “Darkness,” Heller spotted one of the few people who had seen the band, a friend, and Heller said this song was “Tiberius” in honor of him.

Asher Hill – The Snozzberries – 08.27.22. 📷: Dennis Stone

There was more great prog rock with “Return” and the title track to their debut album, This is Now. Heller thanked the crowd for the great reception before Hill began a killer intro and Sloan had a drum feature to kick off “War Pigs,” with Heller shredding and Taylor on a fine organ solo before they ended their Tampa debut.

[SNOZZBERRIES: Slamma Jamma, Biting Through, Have a Cigar > That’s It for The Other One > Eleanor Rigby > Have a Cigar, Snitchin’ Randy, Darkness (Tiberius), Return, This is Now, War Pigs]

 

Road to Nowhere 

The final group for the evening were Road to Nowhere, a band that began as an occasional side project for Clearwater’s Row Jomah as they paid tribute to Talking Heads. As requests for this show increased, the decision was made to create a separate entity, naming the band after a song from Talking Heads’ 1985 album Little Creatures. This project was really good when they began it, but they have it really refined now, paying great tribute to David Byrne and his iconic band. 

Road to Nowhere. 📷: Dennis Stone

Austin Llewellyn’s organ was picture-perfect for “Girlfriend is Better,” and speaking of picture-perfect: bassist Vinny Svoboda was precisely that with his Tina Weymouth wig! The full band offered “Once In a Lifetime” before several members stepped off for the famous “Psycho Killer.” Joe Roma handled lead vocals on most songs, ably supported by Robyn Alleman Pack and Dave Gerulat, who also plays percussion. The three stand at the front of the stage, so sometimes you don’t see Mel Walsh, one of the very best guitar players in this area and beyond. 

“Born Under Punches” and “Making Flippy Floppy” both rocked, and then Gerulat and drummer Dylan Chee-A-Tow had a great percussion battle before “Nothing But Flowers.” Roma does a great job of song selection drawn from the hits and from deep cuts, and he is the perfect man to front this band. Alleman and Gerulat took lead on “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” If you are hearing the song, you know there’s that quirky organ/synth melody throughout; Llewellyn NAILED it!

Road to Nowhere

All three vocalists sang the intro to the song that inspired the band’s name — a cappella! Percussion and more great guitar filled “Wild Wild Life” before yielding to the ever-popular “Burning Down the House” that featured a fine intro from Walsh and Llewellyn. Walsh killed again on “Crosseyed & Painless,” twice, with more Gerulat percussion and Alleman’s finest vocals of the set.

Everyone was on fire for the evening’s finale, “The Great Curve.” Three vocalists, Llewellyn, Walsh, Chee-A-Tow, and Svoboda. That was so fine!

[RTN: Girlfriend is Better, Once in a Lifetime, Psycho Killer, Born Under Punches, Making Flippy Floppy, Nothing But Flowers, This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), And She Was, Road to Nowhere, Wild Wild Life, Burning Down the House, Crosseyed & Painless, The Great Curve]

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get IN THE Freakin’ Dreamin’ GROOVE!

 

 

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