Magic Band Rides Again

OK, so if you were looking into information on Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) you may have noticed that his band was named “the Magic Band”. They truly were magic. An amazing blend of precision slide guitar, thundering bass that often borders on atonality, acrobatic drumming, and a very tight interplay. John “Drumbo” French is a master on the drums. His parts fill a lot of space but hold things together without a lot of downbeat emphasis. Some would say “none”! he also has an incredible voice and is the best that I have heard in emulating the Captain’s power and delivery. I have heard a few recordings by the 21st Century Magic Band and they are off the hook. Fantastic stuff, played by the originators. That band includes Zappa and Beefheart alum Denny Walley, Beefheart alum Gary Lucas, and has had Beefheart alum Robert Williams on drums (so Drumbo can sing and play harp), as well as drummer Michael Traylor. The gigs have all been in Europe. And by the difference in reactioon to Doctor Dark in the States vs. Germany, I can see why.

Bass player Mark “Rockette Morton” Boston is a player who I have spent a lot of time listening to. Learning his parts might actually be impossible since some of them involve notes that I am sure aren’t on my bass. He played bass with steel fingerpicks and I get the feeling that there were some intonation issues with his bass. Maybe just blown out strings, but there is this tubby quality that I can’t duplicate. But I do love his playing. When the parts call for it he can play very straight, and his time works well with the band. But there are a lot of parts where the bass is its own lead line. I think that I subconsciously absorbed that as a youngster.

So that is the deal on the current Magic Band. Lots more info just by trying your hand at Google, or doing a little creative web surfing.

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