Live: The Oatmeal Conspiracy and Triple Wide, Raleigh, NC, April 7, 2009

Triple Wide with Oatmeal Conspiracy

A genuine jam session broke out at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Pour House Music Hall this Tuesday, as local bands The Triple Wide and The Oatmeal Conspiracy shared the stage. By the end of the night, the free show’s thirsty attendees had heard everything from jazz and pop to blues, funk, clever covers, and electronic music from the two trios.

The Oatmeal ConspiracyThe Oatmeal Conspiracy performed first, and as saxophonist/vocalist Mitch Morton quipped, they have “a lot of sh*t for a three-piece.” Most of said items surround keyboardist Chad Johnson, who manages percussive, melodic and rhythmic samples via a laptop and mixer. Morton and Johnson’s funky, friendly playing orbits the drumming of Brett Connor, who wrings a great deal of nuance and thunder out of his relatively sparse kit.

Their music is of an eclectic, jazzy style that incorporates moments of upbeat pop and, conversely, frantic instrumental work. Influences as broad as soul, jazz, roots rock, and mainstream music inform their sound, as Morton’s quirky vocal songs are balanced by group interplay and gratuitous instrumental release.

Oatmeal Conspiracy with Steven Stewart

Their cache of original songs encompasses a wide range of moods, from blitzing electronic funk (“The Great Equalizer”) to fun-loving pop storytelling (“Stephen”). The trio, joined by Triple Wide guitarist Steven Stewart for the closing “Great Equalizer,” exhibited a strong grasp of dynamics. The pulsing, open-ended tune featured tense, danceable moments and psychotic jazz breakdowns.

The Triple Wide’s set focused on blues, funk, and collaboration. A tight guitar trio inspired by powerful threesomes like Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, the band offered their own meticulous compositions along with an exuberant group of cover songs. Their influences are plain to see in the choice of covers and also reflected in the band’s original tunes.

Dale BryceThe night’s first guests were Johnson and Morton, who added an expanded palette of textures to the original “MeShell Funk.” The title of that song could well be a reference to bass player Dale Bryce’s Me’Shell Ndegeocello influence. Whitney Pearsall, vocalist from Grateful Dead tribute band Better Off Dead, joined in for a smoky take on Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”

All of a sudden, there was a sextet on stage that remained intact for a gliding version of Traffic’s “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley,” then quickly let the core trio alone for the frenetic original “Roccofusion.” David Daniel’s breezy drumming is a nice match for Bryce’s agile bass work and Stewart’s classic guitar sound. All three can step up to the plate when needed, a trait most noticeable on their original tunes.

Pearsall and StewartThey make a damn fine nucleus for whatever musical need might arise, as evidenced by their solid work on “The Weight,” which featured the fine combo of Pearsall and Jessica Stewart (sibling of Steven) on vocals. The Stewarts, along with Daniels, were once members of the now-defunct Chapel Hill band Southern Groove Society, and they celebrated their increasingly rare time on stage together with a joyous rendition of the SGS crowd-pleaser “Spin.”

Chad Johnson and David DanielsAfter cooling off with a patient, languid take on “Sugaree,” the night closed with a ripping version of Band of Gypsys’ “Them Changes,” complete with singing drummer. The family members and longtime friends that comprise both of these bands helped nurture a fun, jam-filled evening. This relaxed but entertaining show was just what I needed on an unseasonably chilly April night.

Check out our full unedited photo gallery from this show
-Get more information about Triple Wide and The Oatmeal Conspiracy

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