Steve Molitz’s Launchpad: Joy, Emotion, Elation, Magic

Music is often very personal, very emotional. Steve Molitz’s Launchpad at Dunedin Brewery Spring Beer Jam caught me off guard Friday, March 24, with a performance that touched the deepest recesses within me. I have seen and heard hundreds of sets and shows at Dunedin Brewery (Florida), but this one was… special. The best ever? I don’t even know what that means. Music is in the moment, and in that moment — well, 110 of them — it was electrifying beyond imagination. 

Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Steve Molitz has been a regular visitor at DunBrew, usually being dragged along by guitarist Joe Marcinek and whatever band of A-listers Marcinek had kidnapped for the weekend. Molitz also had previously brought his jamtronic masterstroke Particle to Dunedin as well.

For this weekend as part of the Spring Beer Jam, Molitz and Marcinek and Mike Dillon’s Punkadelick with Brian Haas and x would mix and match with some of the very best musicians in the area. Tonight, Molitz will be a key feature (see what I did there?) of Joe Marcinek’s birthday party set.

Joe Marcinek – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Three local gents would fill out the band, but, no matter how excellent I thought Launchpad might turn out, I woefully (and delightfully) underestimated. Matt Weis, incredible guitarist with S.P.O.R.E., Boxcar Hollow, and Antelope, was the perfect choice to wrangle strings with Marcinek. Vinny Svoboda, master bass player with Anthill Cinema, Row Jomah, and Road to Nowhere, had just finished his set with Row Jomah (brilliant) and pulled the double-header with Molitz.

Matt Weis & Vinny Svoboda – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

And then there is Thunderfoot. That would be Michael Garrie, who plays with Dead Set Florida and also with Antelope. He was born to play this set with Molitz. Time and again, as the tempo changed, Garrie was so totally on point. He pushed this over-the-top set WAAAAY over the top.

Michael Garrie – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

The quintet were scheduled to begin at 11, but they were confabbing for 15 minutes to make sure everybody had the plan. I’d say it worked. They opened with a 33-minute absolute mind-blowing masterpiece that opened with “Launchpad,” name of this band and of the debut Particle album from 2004. Molitz moved from clavinet and electric piano to Hammond B3 (the house organ and Leslie donated by Harv Majeski), then to synths. Garrie had the untz, untz, untz beat dialed in perfectly, with Svoboda in lockstep.


Weis took a killer solo as the song twisted itself into a great instrumental variation on “China Cat Sunflower.” Garrie is in Dead Set Florida, Marcinek regularly hosts Dead Funk Summit with George Porter Jr., Weis has played the Dead canon with Russ Bowers Isn’t Dead Yet, and Molitz has performed often with Phil Lesh & Friends. They came by this one honestly. Marcinek soloed before the jam backflipped into “Metropolis,” another tune from Launchpad, synths sounding like bells. WOW!

THAT’S how the Molitz train rolls!

Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Songbird Shella (Rochelle Siddiq) had been performing in the area for some time, doing duet shows, often joining Row Jomah, as she did earlier in the evening for a stunning “Crosseyed and Painless” and her composition “Weatherman,” and she has traveled the country with Marcinek on occasion. She joined the band for what an observer called “the wildest version of ‘Come Together’ ever!” Her powerhouse voice rode atop the great band interpretation of the song. 

Songbird Shella – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Marcinek was sitting on his guitar amp and began reaching up to fiddle with keys on one of the synth keyboards, then coerced Michael Lyn Bryant, DunBrew’s proprietor, to come play synths while Molitz was absorbed with B3 and electric piano. Marcinek and Weis provided a killer coda to the tune.

Michael Lyn Bryant – Joe Marcinek – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Bryant has been debuting the new Moon Tower, a building adjacent to the brewery, which has incredible promise, but late-night shows are in the familiar brewery itself, and the place was already slammed with dancers when Molitz turned the party on its head with “Axel F,” the Beverly Hills Cop tune that was a mainstay of Particle sets. As if that were not enough, he sandwiched another Particle favorite, “Triple Threat,” in the middle. Marcinek went totally psychedelic here with his solo.

Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Weis recalled a song Particle did with Joe Satriani called “W,” a reggae-fied tune used to explore modalities. Garrie, who was killing on every tune, blew this one sky high, and Molitz stuffed another Particle favorite, “The Elevator” with its eastern sensibilities, in the middle of the “W” jam.

The order of events here becomes a little cloudy. I looked up to see Mel Walsh, outstanding guitarist for Row Jomah, on stage. He had a brilliant intro to what would emerge as “Riders On the Storm,” with Molitz nailing all those keyboard parts to perfection. Garrie was out of control. Marcinek grabbed the steering wheel and drove into an amazing “Eleanor Rigby.” The smiles on stage and throughout the brewery were huge on every such transition.

Weis came back on stage (the stage is 4 inches high) and got the guitar back from Walsh as things got very metal, and suddenly the unmistakable cadence of “Seven Nation Army” energized even further the entire room. Svoboda was just plain nasty here. Songbird Shella grabbed the microphone and SOARED! It is great seeing her let it all go! Weis soloed, and Garrie had a nice feature with Molitz.

Songbird Shella – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

We were close to closing time. Molitz dedicated the Lotus song “Spiritualize” in remembrance of Chuck Morris, percussionist for Lotus, and Morris’ son, both missing and presumed dead after a kayaking trip. It was a righteous cover of the beautiful song, which eventually spun itself into the “Launchpad” reprise with approximately 13 false endings. 

Vinny Svoboda – Steve Molitz’s Launchpad – DBSBJ. 📸: Funk Eye Media

Everyone was exhausted and exhilarated.

I am rarely at a loss for words, but this was one emotional; I struggled a bit last night. I guess I found a few words now.

[STEVE MOLITZ: Launchpad > Metropolis > China Cat Sunflower > Metropolis, Come Together, Axel F > Triple Threat > Axel F, W > Elevator > W, Riders on the Storm > Eleanor Rigby > Seven Nation Army, Spiritualize > Launchpad]



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