On the Road – The Werks – Baltimore Soundstage – 11/3/12
by Ryan Neeley exclusively for Appalachian Jamwich
Photos by Ryan Neeley for Appalachian Jamwich
Have you ever gone somewhere and just got the feeling that you were more than welcomed, you belonged there at that particular moment, in that exact spot? I experience this feeling every once in a while, and I never know when it’s going to happen again. Saturday night I experienced this occurance at the Baltimore Soundstage in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, MD, a spiffy, happening nucleus of a city surrounded by a little bit of blight and sadness, where sorority girls mix with panhandlers and tourists mingle with locals.
I knew that this, being my first show in Baltimore, surrounded by friends I’ve made along the way was going to be special, as most of the amazing folks at Appalachian Jamwich would be there to rage by my side. My family had just had a wonderful day at the Baltimore Aquarium, and I had them back at the hotel for the evening – I rushed down to the Inner Harbor showing up a full hour before doors opened so I could check out the Hard Rock Café. Even though it’s a bit commercial, I’m a memorabilia fan, so don’t hate. As I was downing a New Castle, the nectar of Gods, I was approached by a complete stranger, a young lady that was waitressing, who proceeded to pull a sick Hard Rock pin off her shirt to give it to me. I returned the favor with a blown glass mushroom, and gave her a thick hug. Hmm. This night might be even more special than I thought.
After leaving the Hard Rock, I hustled across E. Pratt street and headed into the venue, where I ran into Marc Worden of Godfather Recordings, who had been highlighted in the magazine recently. This man is the king of live recordings in the DC area, and it was a pleasure to meet him. I introduced myself and he handed me a few bootlegs – The Werks at All Good (Sex Machine anyone?) and Anders Osborne, who had played the night before at the Soundstage. I, being Prince of Barter, reached into my bag and pulled out a few Rumpke Mountain Boys charms for him and his lovely wife. God I love trades, and those bootlegs were a treat for the seven hour ride home.
After meeting the Folkadelics, who I had seen at WerkOut Music Fest, I ran into a few other folks I’ve met along the way this summer and ran into the folks from the magazine, who had brought a mess of West Virginians up to rage with the Werks! The Folkadelics took the stage like a refreshing breeze through the Sounstage, and proceeded to impress the masses with their harmonies and solid songwriting. Dany Faraone, the female vocalist, boasts a powerful voice with soul, confidence, with a pinch of funk thrown in for good measure, and who doesn’t love a focused mandolin player? For an opener, I thought, you couldn’t ask for much more.
Baltimore band Deaf Scene roared onto the stage next, and talk about energy and power! From a bass-guitar-drum trio, I believe that this band shows you the fullness that loop-infused rock can bring, with driving beats, hard bass lines, powerful chords, and soaring guitar, they really brought it, then proceeded to leave it all on the stage. I thought they looked familiar, and realized that they were at Rootwire – It’s all coming together now.
Following Deaf Scene was the group that I came here to see = Ohio bred boys The Werks. Being a West Virginia boy transplanted to Ohio, and because I LOVE the music scene in Ohio, these boys hold a special place in my heart. I had seen them a handful of times with Papadosio back in the day and attended the Werk Outs at Shawnee Caverns, and they always seem to get better each time I check them out. The last chance I had to see them prior to their nationwide tour was at their now legendary WerkOut performances, so needless to say, I was ready. Chris Houser on guitar is a psychedelic shredding guru, with a personality to match – He looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you, and even when drunken fans come up to him, people that most would tend to walk away from, he takes the time to thank them and give them the thrill of a photo or autograph. Dino Dimitroleas pops and slaps the bass like a red=headed stepchild, laying down thunderous lines for the boys to weave in and out of. Rob Chafin tends to bring Animal from the Muppet show in mind with his mix of drum pad/traditional goodness, and Norm Dimitroleas, Dino’s brother, has energy on the keys that seems to flow through his fingertips, across the keyboard, and out the monitor to feed the crowd and keep the dancefloor moving.
The crescendos and lows these boys put out was flat inspiring, and we danced, stomped, bopped and played a little balloon hackey throughout the thunderous set – The sound was clear and the light show put out by Jim Dewey was magical – After a set that included lots of Werks originals like Going Round, Duck Farm, and Galactic Passport along with a Steve Miller Band Cover, Fly Like an Eagle, the 4-piece gave the throngs of folks a thrill with an encore of Gameplan and the Phish song Slave to the Traffic Light. These boys were tighter than ever, and after the show, I had the chance to chat with them about the tour. Since the WerkOut, they have been on fire, and things are only looking up for this band, who continue to push the envelope and make Ohio proud!
After the show, I headed onto the Werks bus and Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Johnny Neel of Allman Brothers fame was sitting on the couch. Umm – after I didn’t think this night could get any better, I’m meeting Johnny Neel? Pinch please. Thinking nothing could top that, we headed into downtown Baltimore and threw down at a house party for the rest of the night, where I got to interview some of my favorite musicians and chat for hours. So, I can’t thank the Werks, Batlimore Soundstage, Appalachian Jamwich and friends enough for their hospitality. You gave me a weekend that I will not forget, and OHIO pulled into town and joined in with Baltimore to show the Inner Harbor how it’s done!
SETLIST — SOUNDSTAGE BALTIMORE – 11/3/12
Duck Farm> Cloudhopper, Galactic Passport, Going Round, Moby Dick> Heading South, Fly Like An Eagle> Onslaught. E: Gameplan> Slave To The Traffic Light.