Mustang Meltdown: Hot music on a cool evening

By on July 11, 2018

Sensi Trails at the Mustang Midsummer Meldown. (LtoR) Kyle Rising, Guitar; Rachel Dickerson, Drums; Mike Rush, Bass. (Kip Tabb)

Sensi Trails at the Mustang Midsummer Meldown. (LtoR) Kyle Rising, Guitar; Rachel Dickerson, Drums; Mike Rush, Bass. (Kip Tabb)

It was a little bit windy and a bit cool for a July evening, but the music at the Mustang Midsummer Meltdown in Corolla lived up to its billing.

When local reggae band Sensi Trails took the stage, it was immediately apparent that this would be a night of great music. If there was a revelation or a highlight of the event, it was the power, musicianship and creativity of Sensi Trails.

As a band they keep getting better, but what is most impressive about their performance is how they blend styles and still create a sound that is reggae.

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Much of the material is original, and a couple of things make their compositions stand out. The themes are topical, the lyrics work within the song and the arrangements highlight the strengths of the group.

Dirty Couch, a song written by lead guitarist Kyle Rising, is a good example.

The song tells the story of drinking too much and waking up on a dirty couch — and one of the features that stamps this particular piece as a standout, is that it really does tell a story. It is the arrangement that makes this a distinctive piece of music.

The song begins as a slow hand blues number, with Rising playing a compelling style of blues. Then it’s drummer Rachel Dickerson’s turn to shine. As the blues sound fades, she brings out a combination blues and reggae beat that allows the song to move into a fun reggae piece about drinking too much.

This is a group that may go places. All the pieces are there. Dickerson and Rising’s vocals are strong; Mike Rush on bass does a really good job of always being where he’s supposed to be; and the arrangements are excellent.

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Buddha Council and their reggae sound had the crowd dancing. (Kip Tabb)

Buddha Council and their reggae sound had the crowd dancing. (Kip Tabb)

Perhaps most importantly, they take chances, and when they do, it works. There’s a-cappella, there’s some jazz, some blues — a great combination styles from a group worth watching.

Buddha Council followed Sensi Trails. Like Sensi Trails they play reggae, and they play it really well.

They are more traditional in their approach. A five-piece band– two guitars, keyboard, bass and druma their sound is rich and full and pure reggae.

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One of the things they bring to the performance — something a trio like Sensi Trails can’t do — is create a more complex sound to produce great dance music with a strong Afro/Caribbean rhythm, powerful earthy chords and a driving bass line.

What focuses that full, rich sound of the group is Jon Quan’s strong vocals.

Richmond's Trongone Band, a genre spanning band. (LtoR) Ben White,keyboards; Andrew Trongone, guitar and vocals; Johnny Trongone, drums; Chip Hale, bass. (Kip Tabb)

Richmond’s Trongone Band, a genre spanning band. (LtoR) Ben White,keyboards; Andrew Trongone, guitar and vocals; Johnny Trongone, drums; Chip Hale, bass. (Kip Tabb)

They also have some fun with the staging, occasionally dipping into a moment of synchronized movements.

The Trongone Band out of Richmond was the headliner, and they lived up to their billing.

In some ways, the Trogone band is a throwback to a time when a band wasn’t automatically sifted into a particular genre.

Are they a rock band? Yes, they are. There is no doubt about that. But, along with that hard driving rock sound there is a distinct touch of country from time to time.

Does that make them country rock? Not even close, because that slide guitar work of Andrew Trongone, who also handles most of the vocals, is pure, beautiful blues.

What makes this band stand out, aside from the range of styles they play, is just how good they are as musicians and how well they seem to understand how to get the sound they want.

Ben White on keyboards was excellent. But where he really excelled was in taking an intro to a song or a lead and making it an integral and important part of the piece.

The same could be said for Johnny Trongone on drums or Chip Hale on bass.

These are outstanding musicians at the top of their game and the result was great music that had people up and dancing and listening at the same time.

This was the first Mustang Midsummer Meltdown, and according to Mike Dianna of Bearded Face Productions, it was an experiment.

“We wanted to try something on a Sunday and see how it goes,” he said. “If it works, we’ll do another one next year, or maybe even two.”

Hard to say what the future holds, but if crowd size and enthusiasm means anything, there will be a 2019 Meltdown.

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