Stuph That Works - Review of Low Spark - a band from Chicago
As I have gone on record many times: I LOVE me some interweb.
How else would I have been presented an opportunity to hear some
kick-ass musical talent from Chicago?
Here is how it went - stumbled upon a former neighbor from HS days. We became FB friends.
(Yawn, right?- no biggie there...happens every day.)
Well, one day Marti happened to be talking up her son
Collin O'Brien and Low Spark - a band in which he plays the drums.
As a hobbyist drummer - DRUMS is a majick trigger word, so I clicked some links.
Their music grabbed me instantly and made me smile.
Jazz/rock fusion - decidedly uptempo and up-lifting. It put me in mind of
music from the past that created a similar vibe: Spyro-Gyra, George Duke, Return to Forever, etc.
This picture captures the kind of positive vibe Low Spark brings to their music and performance.
L to R - Justin Canavan, guitar,
Doug Ferdinand, keys,
Derek Brown, sax
Collin O'Brien, drums
Jae Gentile, bass
I listened to their album, Cascade, whilst doing some writing and bought a digital version.
You can do the same here: Cascade by Low Spark
Here is a taste of their talent:
I also asked Marti to let me know when Low Spark might be in the area.
Thankfully, she posted something about a week ago that they were coming to GR at the Intersection.
Excellent. Julie and I met two of our friends downtown for a pre-concert stroll and a bite to eat.
(How about Founders Brewery? - we walked around the entire site - Bonus Question -
How many 2-3 story beer brewing thingamabobs do they have??)
On to the good part - Low Spark Live and Direct.
How best to summarize? How about, I remained seated for the first 1.5 songs and then was on my feet bopping around for the remainder of the show? One note - sax man Derek Brown was not there as he was touring in Russia (Trump fundraisers? NAH, don't think so.)
Anyway, I had the good fortune to reconnect with Marti and meet her husband Joe and their son Collin before the show. Bonus - it was Collin's birthday, April 1st. How cool izzat?
Low Spark jumped in with all 8 hands and they had our table sucked right in.
One thing I noticed right away is how much these guys like what they are doing.
Big smiles were the order of the day as they worked through their set of original music with a cover or two (Collin told me one funky number was a George Duke song).
To say Low Spark impressed all four of us is an understatement. Who is your favorite jazz or jazz/rock guitar player? DiMeola? Methany? Justin's fingers are every bit as nimble and busy. WOW!
Do you love key boards as much as I do? Did the solo synth flights of Weather Report and others used to bring you joy? Well, Doug Ferdinand is in that camp. He would jump from a Hammond organ sounding solo to the kind of spiraling Moog ditty that made me clap and smile.
Are you a fan of Musical Foundation? Well, Collin and Jae certainly lay a nice groundwork on which the other guys can blast off from. (I did wonder once or twice just how much better Low Spark could have been if Derek had been there, too!)
Collin is really good - lots of steadiness with tons of fills and triple time fun tossed in.
Can you say "syncopation", sure, I knew you could.
Jae is a bassy bass man of the first water. He could jump from a low thunder-walking background upon which Doug and Justin could build to showing off his own nimble fingered skills and make the transition effortlessly.
Low Spark is tight - effortless key and tempo changes testify to their skills.
They play the Intersection in Grand Rapids a couple of times a year.
Keep your eye out for their next show - you will not be disappointed.
If you are ever in Chicago, they have a standing Thursday night gig here:
5/2/17 - I am very pleased to announce the fact that I have published a small book of
some of my best stories. It is available for sale on the website for our store. The title of the book is "Otter Was A Beagle-ish Dog - And Other Mostly True Tales"
You can learn a bit more and order one just