Live review: Eric McFadden Trio @ Owsley's Golden RoadBy Jason Blevins | December 14th, 2009 | No Comments »
The hard-touring and harder-rocking Eric McFadden Trio descended on Owsley’s Golden Road Saturday night, offering their eclectic history lesson of rock. It was a three-hour potpourri of brash guitar and the middle show in a blitzing 17-day tour that stops in 13 cities in five states. Led by renowned session guitarist Eric McFadden, whose stacked resume includes a sustained stint as resident barn burner for George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars, the trio’s energy matched the tour’s breakneck pace.
McFadden is a six string virtuoso. His command of so many genres — yes, that was Dick Dale-flavored flamenco on a nylon-stringed classical acoustic guitar for the instrumental “The Ghost Maker” — is accentuated with meticulously crafted songs. There’s the poppy twist on traditional psychadelia. Poetic yet sinisterly distorted punk. Rowdy rockabilly. Dark, foreboding grunge.
His melodies hinge on seriously catchy choruses that resonate thanks to a crunchy baritone reminiscent of Tom Waits or the late Mark Sandman of Morphine. At one point in the evening, McFadden veered from a breezy Jackson Five riff into a heavy, even scary, Nine Inch Nails cover. For an encore, McFadden married a loping AC/DC groove with Neil Young’s anthemic “Hey Hey, My My.” Yeah, it sounds schizophrenic but McFadden’s mastery of his hollow-body Gibson makes the seemingly bipolar layering reach dynamic heights.
When some of his songs wilt towards staid 4/4 grunge-pop — complete with dread flipping, gunslinging lunges — he rebuts all scoffing with fiery, utterly unique guitar work. The trio’s deep end features James Whiton slapping and hammering an upright acoustic double bass, which compliments McFadden’s wide range.
Owsley’s is becoming the perfect venue for the attention-deficit disordered concertgoer. While Team McFadden leaned toward the stormy side of rock, the venue’s back room stage on Saturday throbbed with jammy inspiration. The nascent Dead Phish Orchestra features Paul Murin of Great American Taxi and Mason’s Children and Denver newcomer Eric Eisen double teaming Trey and Jerry riffs with impressive improvisation. In yet another fun twist for the exploratory post-Dead generation, the band — with keyboardist Ted Tilton and Great American Taxi’s Chris Sheldon on drums and Brian Adams on bass — alternates Grateful Dead and Phish tunes.
They are likely one of the world’s only outfits that deliver setlists that include non-stop China Cat-Tweezer-West L.A. Fadeaway or a Frankenstein-teased Franklin’s Tower. Word is the band, which has only played together twice before, may come together again for a New Years run at Owsleys.
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Jason Blevins is a strange dancer but that has never stopped him.