I don’t understand hashtags much, nor do I usually pay any attention to them. However, this is one I get — completely:
CBA is Come Back Alice, the outstanding band from St. Petersburg continuing to push the geographical boundaries of their gypsy swamp funk, or rock and roll, or whatever you’d care to call their blend of musical magic. Where they once played regularly in the Tampa Bay area, they have trimmed back their schedule to concentrate on their new album, due for release shortly, and to focus on touring more widely, including festivals.
That includes Soulshine Farm Music Festival in Green Mountain NC, where they perform this Thursday, August 10th, and Saturday, the 12th, and The BIG What? in Pittsboro NC on Saturday, the 19th. Their deep resume features performances at Suwannee Hulaween, Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival, Hometeam New Year’s Rally, The Great Outdoors Jam, Orange Blossom Jamboree, Backwoods Fam Jam, and numerous other gatherings.
The band recently opted to join the Empire Agency, with Chris Cate in charge of booking and Chris Ennis management. This very positive step will help the band continue to raise its national profile.
But just who are these people? At the core of the band are Tony Tyler, a triple threat from Macon, and Dani Jaye, herself a triple threat as well. The couple recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary, but their music talents have been married for years. We first met them four years ago on stage, and since then their musical partnership has truly raised the roof.
Tyler is an excellent Hammond B3 player (as well as other keyboards), a superb guitar player, and a spectacular singer in the Southern preacher style (think Allman, Grey, and Haynes). Jaye is a fine singer, amazing guitar slinger, and stunning violinist. CBA is anchored by Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris; he also plays in the brilliant jazz fusion band Joose and performs with Justino and the Difference.
Jimmy Rector, a talented percussionist and amazing graphic artist (Accepted Perspective), has been with the band for several years; he is in Joose as well. The bass chair has passed through several very talented players, but Taylor Gilchrist, a member of Ajeva, is now a regular member of the band. Ajeva bandmate Mark Mayea, one of the most talented keyboard players in Florida (and beyond), is also a regular member. Gilchrist and Mayea, who also play with Morris and Rector in Joose, have added great depth to the band’s sound.
Let’s examine the band’s performance in June in Tampa (06/16/17). They have been playing many of songs from the new album as well as old favorites.
They came out of the gate with great vocal harmonies, wicked slide guitar, and lots of great violin — fiddling — when Jaye worked out on “Give It Up.” Next, they threw down a tremendous cover of Wet Willie’s “Street Corner Serenade,” with Tyler in his very best Jimmy Hall voice. Jaye was again superb, and Mayea was perfect on electric piano. Jaye switched to guitar for the next tune, leading to lots of twin guitar leads with Tyler, Mayea here on synthesizer.
Meanwhile, I was having this thought. I would really love to hear this lineup play something jazzy. With four members of Joose on stage, it would make sense. Less than 15 seconds later, Mayea began a real spacey intro that turned into… “Hang Up Your Hangups!” 15 minutes of pure, ecstatic glory. Jaye took the first solo on violin, then Tyler. Gilchrist, who has really upped his game, took a brilliant space jazz bass solo, followed by Mayea on synthesizer, then electric piano, with Morris taking a final shot. This was a fabulous new dimension for this band.
After new ballad “Just an Echo,” CBA knocked out an excellent version of what promises to be a highlight of the new album, “Love is the Answer.” Jaye’s guitar work has been nothing short of stellar, and her vocals were great as well. After the final chorus, Tyler went into preacher mode with a beautiful call-and-response section.
“Ugly Rumor” is so down and dirty, powered by Morris’ drums. They sent this to a new funk place, synths and drums intertwining, then clavinet and Tyler, followed by wonderful walking bass from Gilchrist. And a great false ending that got everyone. After the Facebook family portrait (Facebook dot com slash come back alice!), they blew out fan favorite “Coraline,” Tyler rapping through the harmonica mic.
What would be next? How about “Tom Sawyer!” These cats can get heavy! Gilchrist in particular made this happen, and Mayea’s synths were, well, key. And then, a quarter-hour of “Whipping Post!” This might have been the best guitar work from Jaye we have heard, just brilliant. Everybody was superb. With time for a very brief, encore, they offered a tight, quick “Eleanor Rigby,” mentioning the upcoming Tampa appearance by Sir Paul.
Soulshine and BIG What? — do yourself a favor. Make sure you check out this amazing band. They have an early set at BIG What? We guarantee it will be worth it to get up for their 1:05 set Saturday.
08/10 Soulshine Farm Music Festival | Green Mountain NC
08/12 Soulshine Farm Music Festival | Green Mountain NC
08/17 Rhythm and Brews | Hendersonville NC
08/18 Aisle 5 | Atlanta GA
08/19 The BIG What? | Pittsboro NC
09/15 Old School | Sarasota FL
09/28 The Great Outdoors Jam | Maddox Ranch | Lakeland FL
09/29 The Great Outdoors Jam | Maddox Ranch | Lakeland FL
09/30 Ocala Festival | Ocala FL