DANGERMUFFIN: FREEDOM IN THE FREQUENCY
Interview With Dan Lotti
By Steve Houk
Music. It’s all about the intricacy of blending different elements to create a harmonious sound. Sounds obvious, right?
But what if the subtle altering of a given frequency or pitch had the power to actually affect you in a positive way? Stay with me here.
For Dangermuffin, an eight-year journey of discovery has brought this superb South Carolina-bred band to a place where these subtleties actually do exist, in a subdued yet potentially profound way. As a talented roots/folk-rock trio, they’ve stayed afloat for eight-plus years and gained a nice following playing well-crafted Americana-esque music on their first four records, while developing a compelling, fun and diverse live show and touring often.
But on their stunning new collection, Songs From The Universe, Dangermuffin not only brings the goods they are well-known for, that well-written, tap your feet, folk-rock blend, but at the same time, they’ve found a fascinating angle to their music, a different take on a familiar musical component: the frequency. Let lead singer and guitarist Dan Lotti enlighten you.
“We did some experimenting with different pitches in our pre-production process,” says the affable and thoughtful Lotti from his home in Asheville, N.C, a recent move from his roots in S.C. he made with his wife of one year. “You try different tunings, and we really found that trying [the frequency of] ‘432’ just gave us a different feel that we really liked, so we decided to kinda roll with that. ‘432’ is very harmonious and creates a more perfect pattern, whereas ‘440’ is somewhat atonal. There’s a lot to be said for those frequencies and frequencies in general. It seems to me that’s the nature of the universe, and it seemed to kind of click into place when we called the album Songs From The Universe, because everything in the world is sort of based around frequency and vibe.”
Little confused? It’s OK to be, the world of frequency changes is a tough one to grasp for most non-musician types. In layman’s terms, you can alter or change a frequency and find a sound that is truer to the ear -- and possibly also the mind – than another, and that’s what Dangermuffin has consciously woven into their music this go-round. There are actual shifts in pitch in the music that have been said to be in harmony with the human body. Pretty cool, if you ask me. It’s still that same great Dangermuffin music…but with a twist.
Lotti explains that it’s their independence from the grind of the regular music industry model that has enabled them to experiment and enhance an already proven formula, and find new concepts like this to try.
“Because we’ve been able to go our own way and be independent, we’ve been able to study some things on our own and follow our heart,” says Lotti. “I am by no means a scientist at all, I just give myself creative license to look into whatever I want, and it’s very interesting sometimes to look at (music) from a quantum perspective, and realize how much is going on every time you hear a musical note.”
The idea of independent thinking is clearly important to Lotti and his Dangermuffin mates Mike Sivilli (guitar/vocals) and Steven Sandifer (drums/vocals). But it wasn’t always that way, things were a bit different starting back with their first record Beermuda (2007). But after evolving as a band, they were able to explore things, like frequencies, without fear of being distracted or led away from experimentation.
“Did Dangermuffin start out with this kind of sensibility? We didn’t, “said Lotti. “If you start by listening to our Beermuda record, it’s a beer-fueled Americana album, being the first one that we did. Now it’s a bit more about freedom, it’s more about being independent, and making your own decisions and going your own way. In some ways, that lends itself to being an independent thinker, and having an open mind towards a lot of these sorts of topics.”
Lotti, a celebrated songwriter who won the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 2005 ‘New Writer Showcase,’ has unceremoniously gone from that beer-soaked Americana guy to adopting a more holistic lifestyle in recent times, giving up drinking and embracing a more spiritual state of mind and body, no doubt aided by his wife’s passionate herbalistic interests. It’s his own thing, with no pressure for his bandmates to also adhere to, and Lotti has thrived as a result.
“I spend every day in my own sort of routine and practice and discipline,” said Lotti. “I try to meditate and stretch and do yoga or whatever, I just kinda do that on my own. I found that drinking sort of numbed me a little bit, so I couldn’t get that far with meditation or anything. So I decided to stop that, and I haven’t missed it. ”
“I think there are a lot of traps for musicians, for artists,“ Lotti continued. “People can get really lost on this path. For me, it’s more about staying grounded, having a solid home life, and delving into these grounding practices. I’ve just seen so many bands and musicians that just wanna talk about drinking and getting f---ed up, and sleeping around, and it’s like, do we have to do that to ourselves? You know what I mean?”
Lotti is also grateful to be living in a time where in a business that can chew you up and spit you out in a flash, bands don’t have to be the biggest thing since sliced bread to succeed on their own terms. He and his Dangermuffin comrades have realistic expectations and are also embracing the technology of the day as well, and that’s another way they feel they’ve got a firm hold on that often sought-after freedom Lotti often speaks of.
“One of the biggest mistakes that bands make is they set their expectations really high,” Lotti said. “That’s the American way, it’s all about being the biggest thing, and having the inflated ego, and the need to be big and rich and famous. And I just don’t think that’s gonna be the way it’s gonna be with music anymore, and that’s a good thing. Because what’s gonna happen for us given the internet revolution and all the tools that we have at our disposal is that music becomes more free, which I think is a good thing for everybody, because we’re gonna end up hearing better music that way. So we temper our expectations with that in mind.”
Be sure to check out Dangermuffin this week along the East Coast including Friday night 12/5 at Gypsy Sally's in Washington DC and stay tuned for Cosmic Vibes Live coverage of Friday's show.
John K & The DC Mystery Cats @ Gypsy Sally's 11-25-2014
Review & Photos By Brian Willis
John K & The DC Mystery Cats
Performing a Jerry Garcia Band setlist from:
2-18-78 - Marin Veteran's Auditorium, San Rafael, CA
Set 1: How Sweet it Is, Catfish John, That's What Love Will Make you Do, Knockin on Heaven's Door, Mystery Train
Set 2: Midnight Moonlight, Love in the Afternoon, Tore Up, I'll Take A Melody, Lonesome & a Long Way from Home
E: none performed at the original JGB show - Mystery Cats encore:
"Filler:" (w/ Ron Holloway) Harder They Come, Run For The Roses, And It Stoned Me
John K & The DC Mystery Cats finished off their sold out 6 week Tuesday night residency at Gypsy Sally's with an additional encore performance on Tuesday 11/25 as well as a special Thanksgiving fundraiser for The DC Central Kitchen on Wednesday night. This night saw the band at an even higher energy level than any of their previous residency performances with yet another sold out show that had the crowd dancing wildly to the very end. The great Ron Holloway made a surprise appearance for the encore to the delight of everyone in the room - including the band! It's hard to pick highlights from a show this solidly brilliant but songs like a plaintive "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", the bouncy "Midnight Moonlight", and "I'll Take Melody" stand out, along with the entire encore. The band was in obviously great spirits and enjoying the show as much as the crowd and gave everyone a night to remember.
I would hazard a guess and say that we can expect another residency in 2015... get your tickets early because they WILL sell out!
The DC Mystery Cats are:
John Kadlecik (Musician) - Guitar/Vocals
Larry Joseloff - BASS!!
Katy Gaughan - Percussion/Drums
Nathan Graham - Drums/Percussion
Trevor Specht - Horns
Paul Grepps - Keyboards
Mary Lankford - Backup vocals
Jessica Lake - Backup vocals
with special surprise guest, the incomparable Ron Holloway!!
A Family Affair Celebrating Trails Blazed Both Past and Present
inspired by the history and vast terrain of eastern New Mexico, where T&SCo guitarist’s father (who co-writes)
grew up a wildcatter’s son and a “crusty” rancher’s nephew
-DtB Celebrates 25th Year as a Band
220 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA
Donna Celebrates New Years in Florida with shows in Tampa, Key West Boca Raton and more
Winter Dates Announced Throughout the East
“Donna The Buffalo is from central New York state, not Louisiana, but this widely loved quintet has woven that joyful, hip-shaking zydeco pulse into the DNA of its sound, and leaders Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins have wrapped that core vibe with hopeful, mellow lyrics.” --Music City Roots, Craig Havighurst
Donna the Buffalo has released ten albums and are affiliated with several others, including Puryear’s 2007 solo album Hopes and Dreams and a 2003 release, Wait Til Spring, with Jim Lauderdale. The band's 2008 releaseSilverlined, as well as the 2013 release (both on Sugar Hill), did well on the Americana Music Chart, each placing well into the top ten. In 2011 Nevins released Wood and Stone, produced by Larry Campbell in Levon Helm Studios, and Mule to Ride in 1999 on Sugar Hill Records.
“Working On That” -> http://bit.ly/1eXPofS
“I Love My Tribe” -> http://bit.ly/1i9fy9Q
12/30/14- 1/1/15 Tue-Thu - Skipper's Smokehouse - Tampa, FL
1/2-4/15 Fri-Sun - Green Parrot - Key West, FL
1/6 Tue - The Funky Biscuit - Boca Raton, FL
1/7 Wed - The Social - Orlando, FL
1/8 Thu - Lucky’s - Valdosta, GA
1/9 Fri - Red Clay Music Foundry - Duluth, GA
1/10 Sat - The Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC <
1/23 Fri - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC <
1/24 Sat - The State Theatre - Falls Church, VA <
1/29 Thu - The Rex Theater - Pittsburgh, PA %
1/31 Sat - The Ardmore Music Hall - Ardmore, PA
2/6 Fri - Mauch Chunk Opera House - Jim Thorpe, PA
2/7 Sat - The Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, VA <
2/12 Thu - The Waterhole Winter Carnival - Saranac Lake, NY
2/19-22 Thu- Sun - Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival - Miami, FL
2/27 Fri - Neighborhood Theater - Charlotte, NC
3/20 Fri - City Winery - Nashville, TN
3/21-22 Sat-Sun - Suwannee Springfest - Live Oak, FL
4/16-19 Thu-Sun - Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival - Silk Hope, NC
4/23-25 Thu-Sat - MerleFest - Wilkesboro, NC
5/14 Thu - Edinboro Music and Arts Fest - Edinboro, PA (Erie)
7/3-5 Fri-Sun - Great Blue Heron Music Festival - Sherman, NY
* w/ Hot Tuna
% W/ Ekoostik Hookah
& w/ The Deluge
> w/ Rock n Roll Attoms
< w/ Driftwood
Better Off Dead Maryland - The 8x10 Club - 11/7/2014
By Brian Willis
Better Off Dead Maryland made their triumphant return to a packed 8x10 Club in Baltimore on Friday night Nov 7th, performing a nearly 3 hour show to the delight of their rapidly growing base of Dead-icated fans. This is an outstanding group of musicians who are able to evoke the feel of a Grateful Dead show in a way that few others have achieved. To a great extent, the band mirrors the classic 6 man lineup of the Grateful Dead with the one-two power punch of drummers Andrew Ellinghaus and Robert Gersten coupled with the bombastic bass riffs of John Butte creating a formidable rhythm section that provides the framework for the rest of the band to build upon. New to the band is Chris Gagen on keyboards, who plays beautifully and whose style of playing fits very well with the band. Rex Wilkes fits the role of "band leader" like a glove with his unique vocal style and undeniable charm. And then there is lead guitarist Alex DiPietro. His playing is pure and inspired - he doesn't engage in stage theatrics, he puts his head down and becomes one with his instrument, unleashing sweet jams and soaring solos that would make Jerry Garcia proud to have inspired. And he even bears a passing resemblance to that legend in his younger years. Better Off Dead Maryland is a hot band that is already filling venues with sold out (or near sold out) crowds wherever they play. This is definitely a must see - and must dance to - band!
Better Off Dead Maryland is:
John Butte - Bass and Vocals
Alex DiPietro - Lead Guitar
Andrew Ellinghaus - Drums
Chris Gagen - Keyboards
Robert Gersten - Drums
Rex Wilkes - Guitar and Vocals
I Need A Miracle
The Harder They Come
Ramble On Rose
St. Stephen>Not Fade Away>St. Stephen
Sitting On Top Of The World
Samson & Delilah
Swamp Donkey Newgrass @ The 8x10 Club 11/7/2014
By Brian Willis
What is "newgrass" you might ask? Well... it's something best experienced first hand - don't pass up a chance to see this band!! Just make sure to bring lots of energy for dancing - you'll need it!! This band is high energy, lots of fun, and full of the unexpected. Pink Floyd's "Time" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" done with a bluegrass vibe? Why yes indeedy--- more please! Dani Weissman on the fiddle is a treat beyond description while Greg DeHaas keeps the show jumping with his vocals and driving rhythm guitar work. Greg Nelson on bass and Greg Herb on drums provide a steady - and sometimes funky beat while Will Crowther cooly plays sweet solos that provide the final puncuation mark to their sound. This wasn't just a tasty show - it was freakin' delicious! Swamp Donkey Newgrass is a very talented band with a unique sound and approach to making something more than your usual bluegrass... they've created NEWGRASS! This is a really fun band that will definitely get your feet movin'! Check them out on the web at http://www.swampdonkeynewgrass.com/
Swamp Donkey Newgrass is:
Greg DeHaas - Rhythm Guitar & Lead Vocals
Greg Nelson - Bass & Vocals
Will Crowther - Lead Guitar & Vocals
Greg Herb - Drums & Vocals
Dani Weissman - Fiddle
Chasin' A Rainbow
Hold What You Got
Blue Eyed Son
Bird In A House
Ain't Glad I'm Leavin'
How Mountain Girls Can Love
That Country Tune
Old Number 7
Elko (w/ Black Water tease)
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