Blake Thomas’s Dream Band/Chris Koza Band/Trapper Schoepp Band; October 10, 2008; Café Montmartre
Blake Thomas had assembled the perfect band once before, for a show at the Crystal Corner, and he always smiled when he talked it. Given a chance to do it again, he went one better adding keyboardist Eric Anderson to a mix that already included guitarist Adam Davis, bassist Chris Boeger, drummer Scott Beardsley and violinist Shauncey Ali. This was almost the line-up that played on his recent release, the remarkable Flatlands, the only difference being that Adam Cargin had played drums. He, Davis and Boeger joined Blake in the studio for a marathon one day recording sessions where all of the album’s basic tracks were laid down. Ali and Anderson added their parts later.
The very definition of a Dream Band means those musicians are the best he knows and every one of them is in high demand with other projects, which makes scheduling a practice difficult. Beardsley was Blake’s drummer for the recording of 40 Minutes and the Monday gigs at Brocach that he did every week up until leaving for Texas, but he had never played most of the tunes that made up Flatlands. For the most part that didn’t seem to matter (c’mon, he is a dream drummer after all), and the way he played the newest tune, the unrecorded “Drink Myself Sober” gave it a new twist. In fact, Davis had been doing that all week, adding seemingly incongruent electric guitar parts to what had previously been a Tom Waits-ish acoustic lament. Perhaps the best part of the show was the battles between Davis and Ali; they would trade wicked solos, each playing off of what the other had just done. Well, that and watching Blake stand back and smile in awe at the pair. I found myself doing the same thing.
It was a terrific set, too bad it took so long to get to it. By the time the Dream Band took the stage somewhere around midnight (?), the crowd had thinned noticeably. I have a hard time believing they had all shown up to see the openers. The pedantic Chris Koza Band, while musically just fine, overstayed their welcome, while the Trapper Schoepp Band from Milwaukee couldn’t have been responsible for that many fans. The latter did start the night off entertainingly enough with their irrepressible Bowie-esque rock. It was fun to watch the boys, all of who looked barely old enough to drink, trade instruments every few songs even as they mixed it up vocally as well. They had played with Minneapolitan Koza the night before in Milwaukee, too bad we had couldn’t have just gotten them tonight.