The Power of East Coast Surf

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9/19/07 - Fathoms in Cambridge MA

I had the good fortune to catch The Fathoms (http://www.nesmasurf.org/directory/Fathoms.htm) in a performance last Wednesday night at the small but hip club “Toad” in Cambridge MA. Mike Rosado (9th Wave & NESMA founder) & I trekked up Boston way with our friend and official NESMA recording engineer of Live Reverb Recordings, Jim Lawlor (although he was not able to record this show). I had not heard the Fathoms in over a year, after their 2005 comeback with a new line-up. They don’t play out very often, and when they do, they don’t necessarily tell anyone! It turns out they have been playing approximately once a month at Toad – they will be back next month, and probably again after that. Check the Toad schedule to confirm - http://www.toadcambridge.com/

There was a good crowd of club-goers at Toad, but only about 10 of us were there specifically to see The Fathoms as far as I could tell. Everyone enjoyed it though, and appreciated the musicianship on stage. What we actually saw that night was the Fathoms Trio – Cranky Frankie Blandino on lead guitar, with Paul on bass and Doug on drums. I thought maybe the club was just too small to bring additional twang guitarist Jerry, but it turns out Jerry is not usually available for Fathoms gigs at this time, so this trio may be “The Fathoms” for the time being. Frankie admitted to liking the three-piece format. I’m sure we all miss Jerry (what a great guitarist!), but it was a special treat to hear Frankie holding down the fort on his own.

Frankie is a very fluid player. He seemed to be playing everything fast that night – when asked where the fire was, he admitted that he had been drinking coffee while practicing guitar earlier in the day, so everything came out fast! Frankie was all over the neck, adding his special “Frankie riffs” (his own surf style made memorable on Fathoms CDs “Fathomless” in 1996 and “Overboard” in 1998) to classic covers. He is also the master of the octave – he will play a tune in as many octaves as he can squeeze out of the neck! The bass & drums seamlessly filled out the sound, with a lot of careful watching of the lead guitarist to see just how fast he was going to play.

We were treated to 2 sets – I can’t remember all the many wonderful tunes, but there were Fathoms classics like Fathomless, as well as a barrage of trad surf tunes, like Movin’, Apache, Diamondhead (the FAST version!), and The Hearse. We also heard some tunes from the NEW CD (more on that later) – Tail Waggin’ (without the baritone sax), and Dark Sea, a movingly beautiful, slow and evocative tune, to name a couple.

Did I say NEW FATHOMS CD?! Yes! The first one since 1998! I have heard that the line-up will be a standard four-piece, with the addition of original Fathoms’ saxophonist Dave Sholl, and even some keyboard riffs played by Frankie himself. I was told I could announce that the expected release date is Nov. 20, 2007. I don’t know yet how the CD will be made available, but you can bet I’ll pass on the info through the North East Surf Music Alliance (www.nesmasurf.org) website as soon as I get the details from Cranky Frankie.

ALSO – besides possible future shows at Toad, The Fathoms Trio has another definite show lined up. This will be Sat. Oct. 20, 2007 at The Plough & Stars in Cambridge MA – see the NESMA Upcoming Shows page for details - http://www.nesmasurf.org/upcoming_shows.htm

I love The Fathoms! I’m so glad they’re performing and recording again. I hope you all get to hear them soon.

 

Sandy, NESMA HQ

     

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