Not sure what Sunday nights are like now for live music, but during the Lea/Locke/Forella/Price/Mariani Administration (circa ’05), when clubs stayed open well past closing time and when bumps of coke at the bar were as common as cigarette butts (#humblebrag #smallscene), Sunday nights were poppin’! (is that ’00s enough for you?) at the Black Dog Tavern. The dive in the basement space now occupied by Paddy Reds Irish Pub was celebrated for its beloved raconteur of an owner, Tad Gaither (R.I.P.), its crack bartenders, and its Sunday nightly jazz jams. Berklee-educated drummer Dave Karnes was the bandleader, and since he also played in a couple local rock outfits, he managed to attract to the Black Dog all manner of early-’00s hipsters/musicians on Sunday nights. And the occasional hack weekly writer.
Karnes also led a Wednesday night jam at The Moon, which drew even more hipsters/musicians – the Berry Street lounge sat right next door to The Aardvark back when The Aardvark’s focus was on local and touring original rock, not (delicious) barbecue and TCU throwdowns.
Among the Moon’s assorted sitter-inners were Nathan Brown, Jordan Richardson, and Rich Stitzel, three drummers who will be getting back together onstage this weekend but in slightly altered states, making for easily the most inoffensively weird bill of at least the past few months.
Stitzel will be joined by the rest of Bertha Coolidge, the nearly 20-year-old fusion band that’s still a hot ticket despite (or maybe because of) playing only sporadically now – sporadically but not without good reason. Bassist Aden Bubeck backs Grammy-winning country star Miranda Lambert, and Stitzel lives in Chicago.
Brown will play with his new cop-show-soundtrack project, Programme (“Enter: Programme,” Sep 28), and Richardson will be with his loud yet melodic “divorce pop” group, Son of Stan.
“Rich [Stitzel] asked me to open for [Bertha Coolidge] at last year’s reunion show,” Brown said. “Sadly, I was unable to. When I saw him post that [Son of Stan] was opening this year, I messaged him to see if [Programme] could be the third band, which he thought was cool.
“I joked that we should fill the bill with as many ’90s jazz drummers as possible,” Brown continued, “including having Dave Karnes to do some solo jazz snare brushwork in between sets.”
Sadly-er, that won’t happen.
The connections among the musicians go still deeper. At TCU, Richardson studied under Joey Carter, who is Bertha’s keys/vibes man, and also played with him in the jazz ensemble (and at jams at the Black Dog and the Moon); if we want to go really deep, Brown’s and Stitzel’s fathers taught together in the 1980s and were in the ’60s cover band Sons of the Beaches.
“I’m excited about the gig,” Brown said, “more aware of the state of my ‘chops,’ ya know, since it’ll be a musicians’-musicians-to-the-third-power of a jazz audience most likely to attend, not to mention the education powerhouses performing.”
Both Programme and Son of Stan are playing a lot while trying to finish some recording. Brown and cohorts Landon Cabarubio and Ben Hance plan to go into the studio next week to engineer and produce their debut collection of tracks themselves. Richardson, who in August became full-time drummer for White Denim, the Austin indie-rock band on Downtown Records (Gnarls Barkley, Cold War Kids, Miike Snow), said he’s “slowly but surely working on rolling out a new record.”
Tickets to Bertha Coolidge, Son of Stan, and Programme at Lola’s Saloon (2736 W 6th St, 817-877-0666) tomorrow/Thursday are $8-10.
The Black Dog Tavern’s Sunday night jam lives on at the Scat Jazz Lounge.