Show Review: Jim Weider’s Project Percolator at the Inn On The Blues

Project Percolator (L-R): Avi Bortnick, Steve Lucas, Rodney Holmes, Jim Weider

Project Percolator (L-R): Avi Bortnick, Steve Lucas, Rodney Holmes, Jim Weider

Jim Weider’s Project Percolator
Inn On The Blues
York, Me
April 25

On the beach side of Ocean Avenue in York, Maine, the surf was thundering in off the Atlantic; on the other side of the street, a lucky crowd was packed into the Inn On The Blues enjoying the thunder of legendary guitarist Jim Weider and his band Project Percolator. The Inn’s intimate layout was such that everyone enjoyed the equivalent of a ringside berth at a prizefight.

“It’s the guitars that drive this band,” said soundman Kevin Constantine during the warmup – and when someone says that about a quartet that has Rodney Holmes on drums, you just know something’s about to happen.

Weider, the man who took Robbie Robertson’s place in The Band and a member of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, is probably best known for his country rock-style mastery of the Telecaster. Project Percolator, however, has provided Weider with a platform to launch explorations into deep jazz/rock/funk/groove space for the last few years. If you like Steve Kimock’s music, you’re gonna love Project Percolator.

At Percolator’s core are Weider and Holmes, along with bassist Steve Lucas. Rounding out the quartet for this evening was guitarist Avi Bortnick – a master of everything from atmospheric jazz drifts to greasy funk. The opener “Flight” set the mood: the tune’s cool melody made its way to a powerful jam at the end, with Bortnick, Lucas, and Holmes pushing Weider’s wild-ass lead. When the song crashed to a smoking halt, all four players were grinning at each other – they knew what they’d done and were ready to do more.

Rodney Holmes

Rodney Holmes

The group managed to work through a number of different genres in the course of the evening: Bortnick’s “Black Power” featured some Steve Cropper-style funkiness on his part, while Weider worked his Tele like a jazz saxman. During the song “Percolator,” the quartet pulled off some amazingly tight formation flying before venturing off into a jam that time-traveled back into Blow By Blow-era Jeff Beck-style fusion before quoting Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker.” The Band’s catalog was paid a couple of visits: “Rag Mama Rag” was transformed into a scorching slide workout, while “The Weight” took a mid-flight course correction, swinging from Nazareth to Trench Town (featuring perfect rumble by Lucas).

Jim Weider

Jim Weider

Jim Weider may not wear his Tele gunslinger-low, but by the time the crowd walked out into the salty night air, they knew they’d just witnessed a guitar hero and his band at work.

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