Dragon Smoke raises the roof at Sebastopols' HopMonk Tavern!
Updated: Jan 9
Dragon Smoke is a Superjam band made up of four top notch pro players. The Galactic rhythm section, with none other than one of my favourite drummers, Stanton Moore and badass bass player, Robert Mercurio. As well as Sonoma Countys own vocalist and guitarist, Eric Lindell and Ivan Neville on keys and vocals.
A Superjam is made up of musicians that dont usually play together but they get together to play, to see what comes out of it. And in this case, a funky, soul infused, R&B explosion came out of it! With a fantastic groove set down by Lindells' crazy guitar playing and of course Moores backbone he puts down with the drums! Lindells' vocals are a sweet sounding Blue Eyed Soul and it sounds awesome! Along with Ivan Nevilles beautiful tonal qualities in his voice. Combined with the epic Galactic rhythm section, there is definitley a special magic that occurs when this band plays. Kept together with the talents of Stanton Moores' solid drum skills. And I know I'm biased, but I think that if the drummer is not great, the band cant be. But again, thats just my opinion.
Everyone in this band is a leader in their own right, so when they put their sounds together its something quite spectacular. Its very apparent they are having some big fun onstage. Theres a real chemistry between the four of them.
Neville said at one point onstage, that they get paid to travel with their gear on planes, trains and busses. But when they perform its simply the icing on the cake - not the 'job'. But rather its the reward, the fun, after the slog of the travel.
They have played every New Orleans Jazz Festival since 2003. And apart from a few West Coast shows, they usually only play in New Orleans. This show was the first of three in the bay area. The Hop Monk Sebastopol show was sold out and 200 people squeezed into The Abbey. A room that should probably hold just under that amount. I got there a tad early to get my place in front of Stanton Moores silver glitter Gretsch kit. And about five minutes before showtime the room filled up to the max! When I looked behind me it was packed! They played for about two and a quarter hours. A few songs may have been classified as cover tunes but they put their own spin on them so it was hard to classify them as such.
Dragon Smoke has a super strong following and it was so obvious when they entered the room and got onstage. They were acknowledging so many audience members, as if they were old friends. When the band entered the stage, they had hugs for so many of the people that came out to see them play. After the show I got to chat with Stanton Moore and he acknowledged that they see these people every time they play out in this area, so the fans become family in a way, and it showed. And whilst Stanton and I were chatting, people were offering drinks, and little gifts for him. He is a really nice, guy and we had a nice chat along with a good laugh! And if you know me, I'm always up for a laugh! The vibe in The Abbey was warm, and kind, and the sound of Dragon Smoke was on fire!
They are playing two shows in San Francisco to follow this little local neighborhood gig. The two shows are at The Independent, at 628 Divisadero with a 500 capacity each night. November 4 & 5th. And I'm thinking the venue will sell out both nights. So get your tickets now if you want to see Dragon Smoke on the West Coast!