Their new release Live offers a half-dozen cuts (the shortest clocking in at just over 10 minutes) and is a total jamfest from beginning to end. Joining founding members Jeff Otto (vocals, bass, ukulele, guitar), Bob Stirner (vocals, guitar, bass), and Bud Burroughs (mandolin, bouzouki, and keys) is drummer Tim Kelly – blessed with a jazzman’s groove, a flair for funk, and a rock ‘n’ roll heart. Chip Desnoyers adds spacey and lovely pedal steel to a couple of the tunes on Live; elsewhere, Tom Hampton’s soaring lap steel provides a layer of tastiness.
Right off the bat, it needs to be acknowledged that Bud Burroughs ought to be arrested for being too damn good at too many things. For years, Burroughs has been Boris Garcia’s master of the mando and ‘zouk, his eight-string work helping to define the band’s sound. It wasn’t until the last studio album (2011’s Today We Sail) that Burroughs really stepped into the forefront with some impressive piano and organ work – and if that wasn’t enough of a “Where the hell did that come from?” moment, Live finds him propelling several of the jams to some place far away with his killer keys.
It’s Burroughs’ piano that leads the beautiful glide of the brand-new “Waters Blue”, with Otto on lead vocals. The jam begins with a major-flavored exploration, Stirner’s punchy, aggressive bass combining with Kelly’s rhythms to challenge things without ever losing a grip on the groove. Desnoyers maintains a high-altitude reconnaissance on the pedal steel as things evolve into an angular piano/bass freakout of the nicest sort. Eventually, the band touches down softly; Kelly fastens the beat in place; and Otto comes in with one more bouncy Boris Garcia-y verse. (And take note that Burroughs has at this point gone totally Garth Hudson on the organ to finish the tune in grand style. It’s madness, I tell you.)
Don’t worry, though: fans of Burroughs’ talents on things with strings will find plenty to love on Live as well. Take “Long Black Hair”, for instance: Burroughs’ mandolin chugs along to either side of the beat, working the rhythm like a safecracker as the vibe swings from Appalachian to Tibetan; a wild cascade of mando gives way to the moan of Hampton’s lap steel as the song tumbles into a dark, dark place (when did the sun turn black?); but Bob Stirner guides things back to the original groove in the final moments with one last verse to seal the deal.
Click HERE to read the conclusion of my review of Boris Garcia’s Live on Jambands.com