Sunday, July 10, 2011

Great Music with Barbwyre and Stadler Gibbons Band

What an incredible evening I had last night, listening to Barbwyre and Mike Stadler and Mary Gibbons with the Stadler Gibbons Band. It all happened at The High Street Station, an intimate restaurant and music venue in central Alameda, California.

Barbwyre (photo on left) opened, and got the evening moving with their "country funkgrass" sound (as described by master mandolinist (and guitarist) Dana Rath. Other fine players in Barbwyre include Jon Mitguard on pedal steel, dobro and guitar and Rob Wenig keeping the bottom moving perfectly with his beautiful Mike Tobias Design six-string electric bass.

Barbwyre features duet singing with Dana and Jon, but their instrumental pieces are especially tasty too. The trio feels seems very familiar with each other and appear to be enjoying themselves onstage. The sound was clear, clean, quick and never too loud. It feels like more than just three people playing, too--a remarkably full sound for a trio.

Jon Mitguard is an incredible pedal steel and dobro player, and we were fortunate that he is a part of both bands.

When the tall Mike Stadler and his diminutive singing partner Mary Gibbons (small in stature, big in fine voice) started their set, they brought in Chuck Irvin, with his warm upright bass playing. They played country, bluegrass, and even some vigorous Texas Swing. They added in a drummer ("from San Diego") who carried with him only a drumhead and brushes and it made a surprisingly huge impact on the rhythm.

I was especially happy to hear two songs by Hal Ketchum--a favorite performer of mine and my wife's, done in a lively way that maintained the original song but added special Mike and Mary (and Jon and Chuck) touches.

The High Street Station is a venue that seems to improve every time I go there. My band, Red Paint, has played a few pleasurable gigs there and the room has a nice, cozy, welcoming feel to it. And, you can get tasty fare, coffee and snacks, and beer and wine.

I was able to meet some of the musicians, especially my conversation with Barbwyre's Rob Wenig. I'll definitely be seeing them again--and highly recommend you check out the High Street Station soon. They have many acts coming through, and the cover charge is minimal for what you get.

Dana Rath, Barbwyre's virtuoso mandolinist, is also a founding member of the Modern Mandolin Quartet. Founded in 1985, they have recorded four albums. They will be playing with Tim Weed in Point Reyes, California on Friday, July 15th.

1 comment:

Jon Mtiguard said...

Thank you Steve, As a player yourself you probably know how much we appreciate your appreciation. And then a blog to boot. I get such pleasure playing with both of these bands. Barbwyre especially because I get to do so much original music of mine and Dana's. With Stadler Gibbons I get to add the musical lubrication under and over such stellar singing and playing. Ah life's little pleasures.