Thruster! | El Cid | 1/31/14


I was already excited to watch Atomic Ape do their thing at El Cid, but when Jason Schimmel messaged me that the band performing after them would blow my mind, my curiosity got piqued. I typically take statements like that with a grain of salt, but knowing how extraordinarily talented a musician Jason is, coming from him, that statement carried with it a lot more weight. A week before the date of the gig, I started my google research.  

From allmusic.comTim Young is one of the most creative guitarists out there. Best known for his work with Wayne Horvitz and Zony Mash, he’s been creating a very original style with his mastery of tone and effects and the near-complete absence of clichéd guitar licks. Thruster is his power trio project with bass player Kaveh Rastegar and ubiquitous Seattle drummer Matt Chamberlain […] Guitar fans will surely be impressed, but this is an album worth checking out for anyone interested in good instrumental rock.”

The more research I did, the more the musical dweeb inside of my brain started to squeal. Matt Chamberlain has worked, or toured, with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Pearl Jam, Tori Amos, Morrissey, Fiona Apple, David Bowie, Elton John, Peter Gabriel, John Mayer, and the list goes on. Kaveh Rastegar is a founding member of the Grammy nominated new music quintet Kneebody and has worked with, or written for, Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars, Sam Sparro, Antibalas Afro Beat Orchestra, Joshua Radin, and the list goes on. Timothy Young has performed with, recorded with and/or produced the following artists: Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Belinda Carlisle, Dave Palmer, Fiona Apple, Nikka Costa, Lucy Woodward, Mike Patton, Stan Getz, Sophie B. Hawkins, and, again, the list goes on.

Thruster!’s performance, like their resume, did not dissappoint. Like a well oiled machine, the band performed a set that any lover of rock and roll would have appreciated. Tim’s superb lead guitar playing skills was mesmerizing accompanied by Matt’s succinct rhythms and Kaveh’s steady bass. Jason Schimmel joined them for a song which only added another layer to their already full sound. May favorite jam from their set is at the 5:26 mark of the video below. It’s so hard, dirty and uplifting at the same time, I couldn’t help but make a stink face throughout it.

It seems to me that these guys don’t necessarily get to play together on a regular basis due to their being in high demand for other gigs, so being able to catch their artistry as a collective live was a special treat that I’m glad I got to be a part of.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Atomic Ape | El Cid | 1/31/14


What do you get when you combine progressive rock, Balkan folk, Klezmer jazz and surf rock? Atomic Ape.

Formerly known as Orange Tulip Conspiracy, the 5 piece band led by Jason Schimmel performed a gig at El Cid on January 31, 2014 to celebrate the release of their latest album, “Swarm”. The intimate venue was packed (capacity 104), and those that were in attendance were treated to a musical barrage of styles and musicianship that is, in my opinion, both unique and unparalleled.

If you’re looking for simple, pop tunes, you should move on. If Atomic Ape’s music is anything, it is definitely not simple. The compositions and arrangements crafted by Jason Schimmel (who has previously played for Estradashere and still occasionally with Secret Chiefs 3) are about as masterfully complex as they come, as evidenced during their live performance with seamless transitions into different rhythms, themes, and styles within any particular composition.

But however complex the music may be, it is all still accessible, as long as you are willing to let the music engulf you. I was consistently amazed with the ways in which the band melded the aforementioned styles to create a sound wholly their own. Not only that, but each player was given time to shine with stand-out moments to demonstrate their individual musical chops. Guitarist Tim Young, who played next with Thruster!, and accordionist Max Wipple, each joined Atomic Ape on stage for a song or two.

Ingenious music like this doesn’t come around very often. If you missed out on their recent tour, I highly suggest picking up a copy of their latest album (which, I may add is superbly produced and mixed) to hold you over until they perform in your neck of the woods.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Orange Tulip Conspiracy | El Cid | 2/22/13


Had I been born in a different era, I would have probably spent my evenings sitting in the corner of a small jazz club, dressed in black, lighting up cigarettes and sipping on some scotch while letting the sounds of Duke, Miles or Coltrane take me away.  These days it’s hard enough to find a good jazz club, let alone smoke in a venue.

Jazz music is America’s indigenous art form.  It was born in America.  It’s even an American National Treasure.  But it doesn’t get the type of hype or attention from the kids today unless a loop is sampled into some hip-hop beat and made famous by some rapper who can’t pull up his own pants.  There are some “new” artists these days who are trying to infuse jazz back into music like Robert Glasper and Jose James, whose music I love, but jazz in modern pop seems to be limited to the R&B and Rap genres.


A buddy of mine, Jason Schimmel, plays in the band Orange Tulip Conspiracy.  I saw the band first play September 21, 2012 at Mr T’s Bowl and I was excited to hear them play again at El Cid.  The band consists of 6 talented musicians, and each has learned to play complex arrangements as a cohesive unit.  It’s particularly satisfying, at least for me, when bandmates (especially the horns) play in tune with each other at break-neck rhythms.  As a personal opinion, I felt that their playing this time around was much tighter than the first time I saw them… which is saying something since I thought they kicked ass the first time too. lol.

Their Facebook page describes them as a “band that bends the genres of balkan, jazz, surf rock, and progressive rock with a cinematic twist and an experimental edge.”  I think that that’s a good description.  Not your R&B and Hip-Hop kind of jazz.  Jazz more suited for Ska and Rock.

As I stood there amongst the crowd at El Cid, with the sounds of the horns bouncing off  the red brick walls, I let myself get lost in the music.  I imagined for a moment what it must have been like when jazz was the highest musical art form, when jazz was truly America’s treasure.  I let the Jason’s guitars riffs speak to me, as the horns continued to dance around the composition.  As the set continued, the audience became more involved with the music, swaying back and forth and dancing to the rhythm.  You could feel the temperature of the room elevate throughout the set.  It was intense and complex, like the glass scotch of scotch in my hand.  Now if only I were allowed to smoke a cigarette …