This is a retroactive show review since the gig was sometime during the summer ‘05. I never would have heard about this at all if not for a Spotted Peccary Records
e-newsletter. A very rare U.S. “mini tour” for Erik Wøllo
coming to the west coast of the U.S from Norway. Erik is one of the most dynamic composers in the industry. To me, his greatest skill appears to be linking together soaring electronic soundscapes and guitar leads to form a sonic maelstrom that defies description. His music is BIG, much like fellow Spotted Peccary label artist David Helpling
though the two have different styles.
The Little Fox Theater in Redwood City, California is a small but interesting venue. The bar was out of the sightlines of the stage so I sat dead center at a table up front and enjoyed a steady flow of Sierra Nevada Pale Ales at $4 a pop plus tip.
Erik Wøllo blew me away on his first notes which I believe was Morning Dew from his latest disc “Blue Sky/Red Guitars.” He was joined by Jerry Marotta
on drums and percussion for a few numbers. Jerry is an amazing musician and even though the two probably had not rehearsed extensively, they melded together perfectly. The variety of percussive instruments, intermixed with Erik’s synths and bleeding edge guitar work was everything I could have hoped for. Erik’s performance was much too short, something on the order of a half hour or so. I could easily have sat through two hours or more.
One thing I found odd was that Erik came all this way from Norway and did not so much as acknowledge the audience, not a wave or a thank you. Maybe he is a shy fellow or is just very particular about his stage presence.
Jerry Marotta can never be accused of being shy on stage.
Jerry and Tom Griesgraber
really jammed. For just two guys, a whole wall of sound was in your face.
This was a rare opportunity to catch master chapman stick artist Tom Griesgraber. If you have never seen the chapman stick in action, take note, it exemplifies versatility, especially in a live amplified performance where it is the only instrument aside from drums and percussion. What is amazing about the stick is it’s ability to cover bass lines, guitar-like progressions as well as synthesizers in overlapping tandem. You can rig up whatever effects you want and in Tom’s case, he certainly has put the time in to become one of the best out there using delay, flange among various other various pedal effects
Jerry Marotta is no stranger to performing with a stick artist. He is one of Tony Levin’s long time band members. As a session and touring drummer, Jerry has also been tapped by such greats as Peter Gabriel
, Elvis Costello
, Tears for Fears
among many others over the years. You can check out Jerry’s studio at jersville.com
Jerry is one of those masterful drummers and that can make something out of nothing, step in on the turn of a dime and blow you away with his precision timing. The two of them created moods and tangents that kept the wheels turning in my head and the rhythm in my bones in motion for the full 45 minute performance.
I also bought their collaboration CD “Waking the Day” at the show and listened to it on the ride home. I have given it several spins and it has held up over time. There are a few standout tracks but overall, it does not compare to their masterful live sound.
Unfortunately I would not expect these guys to tour very often, if ever again. However, you can catch Tom live in Balboa Park in San Diego. Catch Jerry Marotta wherever you can, probably in the Tony Levin Band