Deep Banana Blackout

Wednesday, July 19; Firehouse

Jul 12, 2000 at 4:00 am
You have to admit that the name Deep Banana Blackout is certainly thought-provoking and distinctive: The title of the latest flick by the Coen brothers -- a madcap comedy about the world of pornography? The result of smoking too many banana peels after listening to Donovan's song "Mellow Yellow"? The eight-member band approaches music creation in a similar fashion. Although they've evolved from a cover band focused primarily on playing funk and R&B classics by the likes of Parliament/Funkadelic and James Brown, the group now performs original music that adds a strong emphasis on improvisation to those deep roots in funk.

Given the fact that several members of DBB -- including lead vocalist Jennifer Durkin and drummer Eric Kalb -- attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, it's no surprise that the band has the musical skill to handle extended solos and freeform jamming. In fact, DBB is scheduled to appear at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in August, sharing the bill with the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Garrett, James Carter, Stefon Harris and Maceo Parker. Formed in 1995, DBB is just now making a name for itself outside New England. Last year, the group performed in California and Colorado and headlined at such New York City clubs as Wetlands. This year, DBB is making a few stops in the Midwest, including its July 19 gig at the Firehouse. The band appears to be following in the footsteps of such groups as the Dave Matthews Band -- building up a strong regional fanbase, making its own recordings, then touring the country to expand its audience.

If you're into jam bands, Deep Banana Blackout promises to deliver the goods at its St. Louis debut. Besides, any group that has a guitar player known simply as "Fuzzy" has got to be worth checking out.