Carrollton Station

August 10, 2006

What kind of asshole plays a six string bass? That's the first thing I thought when I saw Woodenhead bassist Paul Clement holding his instrument at Carrollton Station Thursday night. I mean, it's fine if you're Jaco Pastorius or Victor Wooten, but if you're just some schlub who got it cause it looks cool, not so much. Though he didn't blow me away like Wooten or Pastorius, Clement proved he needed every string at the first of a month-long string of free Woodenhead Thursdays at the Station. The best was when Clement mimicked the intricate, classically-oriented guitar progression of Jimmy Robinson. Pretty impressive, considering what Robinson did was awesome to begin with. Now do it with fatter strings. Robinson and Clement were joined by pianist Fran Comiskey and drummer Mark Whitaker.

Robinson was the centerpiece of the band, and though his complicated and rapid succession of notes was satisfying, the band was at its best when they all locked in and played together. It was much more powerful that way.

The band was overall pretty cool to discover. Though they've been around for thirty years, I hadn't seen them until Thursday. As you'd expect from a prog rock band that prides itself on technical prowess, they were tight. From the count-off, they were off into a flurry of notes. They were confident, and even though it was obvious showmanship wasn't their forte, it was nice to see a band that had played together so many times that they had the gig on lock down. What would YOU rather a band have? Showmanship or tightness?

The band changed direction and meters regularly, which was fun to listen to but probably hard to learn. I really enjoyed how Robinson incorporated Celtic elements into the music with his playing. What I didn't like was the sound of Comiskey's synthesizer. It sounded cheesy and affected, maybe a little too high-pitched. If Kenny G played piano, this is the setting he would use.

Woodenhead was solid, but they also rocked. If there was anyone actually at the show, I might have danced.

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