The New Electric Review
Covering the sites, sounds
and experiences of the 21st century
Form of Media: Live Music
the Rainbow. Seattle,
Artist: Ten Ton Chicken
Seattle wears the crown
of hosting the largest annual pro-hemp festival and 2002 was no different.
Attracting 150,000 hemp advocates over a 2 day event seems easy to the
coordinators of the Seattle Hemp Festival, and scheduling top notch
entertainment doesn’t hurt. Bands covering a spectrum of music genres from
folk, jam, reggae to hip hop and metal were well represented. In particular I
was most interested in experiencing the music of Ten Ton Chicken, again. A high
powered jazz/funk/jamband from Berkeley, CA, Ten Ton
Chicken figured to be a perfect fit to headline Saturday’s main stage at the
prestigious hemp flavored event. A festival sponsored venue performance by Ten
Ton Chicken was also on the calendar Friday evening at The Rainbow in Seattle’s UW
Having seen Ten Ton Chicken in Seattle once before I
was prepared for some kine grooves,
sweet segues and serious jams. Making their first return to the Rainbow
since a sold out performance in February, TTC settled in right away and took us
on a musical journey that lasted through the echoes of the final note of the
evening. The set list, which I later learned, was filled mostly with brand new
Twenty Times à Moma Dance
Bisquits & Chicken
Gobblin’ à Daddy’s Lower Half
The “Twenty Times, Moma Dance jam was
wicked in its diversity and worked well into the set heating up the crowd. Thus
began a wonderful night of incredibly diverse, good-feeling, dance-inducing grooves.
Ten Ton Chicken all have very different personalities, looks, and musical
styles, yet are capable of meshing so well as a unit. Throughout the night
hints of influences could be heard, including the Zappa-esque
“Mama’s Cork”, the jazzy
overtones of “Horscht” & “Mama’s Upper Third” and
However, the Ten Ton Chicken manages quite well creating it’s own distinct
sound by mixing a form of jamband, jazz and rock that
congers up great feelings and impulses to move about the floor.
The improvisational aspect of their presentation was smooth.
Guitarist Gary Morrell handles most
of the vocals, while absolutely laying it down on his six-string with a flavor
the likes of Leo Nocentelli to Jerry Garcia. His
voice is extremely distinct and with a confident, fluid delivery, it really
adds a cool dynamic to the band. Other select vocal tunes were sung by
rock-solid bassist, Tom Fejes (such as the upbeat yet bluesy Handle) and
Saxophonist Jamison Smeltz who is a terror on tenor
sax. Greg Sankovich went at it with precision on the keyboards while Rich Dibenedetto’s commitment to the rhythm pocket on drums
resonated throughout the night.
The Chicken Segued in and out of their set flawlessly and ended
with an instrumental montage of Gobblin’, Daddy’s
Lower Half and Mama’s Upper Third that beckoned for more. I’m impressed with
their ability to write material that is so original during the jamband boom. It seems to be harder and harder these days
to write innovative songs that don’t rely solely on “the jam”.
I enjoyed Ten Ton Chicken the next day at the festival as well.
I am continuously impressed with the Jamband from Berkeley.
Electric Review (print edition)