Dogtown Allstars

Live at the Venice Café


How appropriate that the city's funkiest band, the Dogtown Allstars, recorded its live album at the city's funkiest bar, the Venice Café. Bands like this should really only release live records anyway, and the quartet doesn't drop the beat throughout the nine songs collected here. The Allstars specialize in the syncopated struts of New Orleans R&B and the percolating rhythms and runs of high-octane jam bands. Keyboardist Nathan Hershey and guitarist Adam Wilke pass the grooves back and forth, with Wilke favoring a more jazzy approach while Hershey pounds the soul out of his Fender Rhodes piano. The band's instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones' "Bitch" retains the original's chugging riff while stretching out the verses for some smooth solos. The Allstars work in some vocal performances as well, as on Lee Fields' "Hey Sallie Mae." The recording is clear and balanced, giving each member a clear space in the mix. Some of the stage chatter seems obtrusive to the final product, but what is a live record if not a faithful document of a night's performance? If nothing else, it will make you hustle to the next of the Allstars' many gigs around town.— Christian Schaeffer

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