The Dragon's Den

February 05, 2004

Greenhouse played well when they started their set on Thursday night, but since there were only ten people in the room, it was as if they were only having fun with themselves(cough,cough). Then, in walk four men who acted as if God reached down from heaven and handed the band to them. That’s all it took. People started dancing, the band started playing better, and The Dragon’s Den filled up, as if on cue.

For good reason, too. Greenhouse contained seven seasoned musicians who knew how to lay down the funk, either in a subtle way or in an epic masculine manner similar to Parliament. They had bandleader/guitarist Ian Cunningham, trumpeter Michael Ray, trombonist Jeff Albert, drummer Dan Caro, bassist Nick Daniels, pianist David Ellington, and Moog extraordinaire Ed Miles.

Greenhouse played party music, so the Moog was right in step as it added a silly, fun feeling to the proceedings. All their songs had brass-driven melodies and a jazz structure, providing multiple solos and a six to eight minute length for each number. Ray and Cunningham were equipped with effects pedals, but the sound was groove-oriented and straightforward. The songs were all covers or originals written by Cunningham.

Everyone in the band played well, but Caro was an inspiration to drummers everywhere(start practicing, guys). Caro only has two fingers, and he has to use a wristband to keep the drumstick attached to his right arm. Even with this disability, he played better than most drummers with ten fingers, and he wasn’t afraid to step up his attack and add needed flair to a song.

“Grease Monkey,” a Cunningham original, was the night’s highlight. The call and response between the brass section and the guitar got the crowd in a tizzy, and Ellington provided small flourishes to add color to the main melody line.

During the second song, feedback resonated that Ellington and I thought came from Ray’s effect pedal, which made the sound of a kazoo. It sounded good, but turns out it was just a technical malfunction. The band joked with each other between songs, and their camaraderie added to the night’s positive feeling. As with all new bands, certain players didn't know their cues at certain points.

But, this is a great time for Greenhouse. They can get better acquainted with their material and play for tips before they go before a paying audience. Act now. They’re going fast.

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