Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Strange Brew: Band reveals new drummer

That's the guy, on the right: Aaron Zaroulis.
It didn’t look or feel like a Monday night at the Grog, especially one in the dead of winter. The place was packed, the base coming out hard to give The Brew a proper sendoff for its national tour to support “A Garden in the Snow” and “Light from Below,” the first two discs from “Triptych,” an insanely ambitious three-disc unboxed boxed set.  Final tweaks for the third are going on now, for "Hard Enough to Break,” the third album, for those of you keeping score. By this point, everyone had heard the big news. Kelly Kane, the Brew brother, charter member, who had been with the band since the beginning, fresh out of high school, back to the Blue Fungus Brew days more than a decade ago, would not be joining the band on this stomp through the country, and, in fact, had played his last date with the band, and would be hanging up his drumsticks for a while. Why? Sorry, no big scoop here. No personality clashes or creative differences or pilfering or girlfriend stealing. Simple economics. For an emerging band, touring requires a financial as well as a personal and artistic commitment. It costs money, in other words, and when you have a mortgage to deal with, taking off a month and hitting the road, bringing the music to the people can be, well, let’s just say that sometimes the romance of the road sometimes bumps up against some ugly realities. 

The Grog date, in addition to representing the first date of the Triptych tour and a gift to hometown fans, was the night of the Big Reveal, unveiling the guy who would follow, if not entirely replace, Kane — and the boys were playing it for all it was worth.  They took the stage, but there were only … wait, only one two three of them —Dave Drouin and the brothers Plante, Chris and Joe. They had some good news and bad news. Good news? Well, you’re here at the first date of the tour. Bad news? That they would be kicking off the tour as a trio. The new guy couldn’t make it: School or work or family commitment or something, but, since everyone was there and the beer was flowing, and quite tasty, they would be trying something a little different — playing as a trio. And so they did, for about a minute or so when, all of a sudden, a frustrated Drouin put a stop to it, saying he couldn’t do it, that he had to have, at the bare minimum, a cloaked, anonymous drummer.

Which is what they got when, almost on cue, a cloaked guy crashed the stage. Who was it? Sorry, not yet. The coy boys were playing it for all it was worth, doling out bits and pieces about the drummer and his connection to the band came out between songs. Turns out that he had played with the Brew before —about six years ago, at a show at the Masonic Temple— a sweaty, crowded affair with toilet facilities so overtaxed that people, meaning guys, of course, sought alternative venues —including Brew drummer Kelly Kane, who, between sets, visited a quiet place, or so he thought, in the dark outside to answer nature’s call. Which quite displeased the boys in blue, who took him away to less-than-pleasing accommodations at the intersection of Green and Pleasant streets — and leaving the Brew up the creek, musically.

The only thing to do, short of playing as a trio, was to put out a call to the audience, a la Keith Moon, to see if anybody out there could pick up the sticks and run with it. Lots of girls without much in the way of musical training answered the call. So did this 14-year-old kid, who told them that he knew all their songs and could play them — not after a bit of rehearsing, Right on the spot. And they said, whip it out. And he did. Big time. Nailing all the songs, not missing a beat. “And this,” said Chris Plante, “is that 14-year-old kid.” This particular Brew-haha is immortalized in “Looking Down,” from “Back to the Woods,” the band’s 2008 release — which they played to conjure up the history. His name is Aaron Zaroulis. Lately he’s been drumming with Bingo Friday, a Boston-based power trio that’s deep into psychedelia, but adding influences of jazz, reggae, blues, funk, rock, and everything in between. He stepped up to the plate again, this time with the benefit of a whole week of rehearsal, and didn’t miss a beat.

And the show, behind the drummer drama? Forget about it. A typically Brew-tish blowout, a two-hour, high-octane set   old stuff, new stuff and, of course, monster covers   some you expected, like "Going to California," some you didn't, like the "Go Your Own Way," played without a drop of irony.Played hot, played cool, played hard. Like monsters, like they had something to prove. Which they don't. But Brew shows aren't just about the music of the moment, but about community. It's about friends, family and fans. And, if you're up front and not dancing, well, someone is likely to grab you by the hips and encourage you to do so.  Yes, hun, I enjoyed our time together, however short. Please don't tell the wife.

And the best thing about the show? No bladders were injured and no one got arrested. 

1 comment:

  1. Great article JC! I saw you dancing in front at the stage with your pen and pad and all the other happy people. What a great story about Aaron and The Brew...there must be more going on in this world than we can contemplate...and it is all good!