Yeah, Scott Amendola Was Good

Like you couldn’t predict that.

Dana Street Roasting Company only holds 49 people, and they came close to capacity for this show (which I’d briefly previewed yesterday). The coffeehouse tables were rolled to the back room, replaced by rows of chairs (the only way they could seat so many). It was more a concert vibe than a coffeehouse one; no drink orders were taken during the music.

Quite a few folks seemed to be locals who’d come out by word of mouth. There was a writeup in The Mercury News as well — great to see that kind of support — but only two people raised their hands when the owner asked the crowd who’d come because of the article.

People did seem to enjoy the music. The start of the second set was a particular highlight for me. “A Cry for John Brown” (from Amendola’s album Cry) was a jump start of an opener, with John Shifflett on bass digging hard into that 6/8 riff, providing the foundation for some burning guitar from Jeff Parker. Hard-gripping work. That got followed by “Blues for Istanbul” from Lift, where Shifflett played around mightily with the opening bass solo — great fun, with Shifflett returning again and again to some upper-register work, alternated with low notes.

Bass tends to get overlooked in this trio format, but Shifflett is quite the showman and stood out as an equal third in this arrangement. Amendola‘s usual chatty drums kept the mood and activity level up, and his drum solos got some of the loudest applause — maybe because the audience was a little too aware of the drummer being the bandleader.

Shifflett, after that great “Blues for Istanbul” intro, should have gotten some applause too, but he took one for the team, making a quiet, quiet transition into the bassline that marked the beginning of the actual composition. No one in the audience wanted to break the moment. But I think he knows he kicked butt on that song, and I hope he understands that we appreciated his work there.

“Lift,” the pretty title track, became more open and untethered than it is on the album, with Parker and Shifflet playing the theme slowly in free tempo, drifting past Amendola’s river of drumming, like leaves in the current. That got followed by the earblasting, mess-with-the-audience sounds of “Death by Flower” (or something similar and equally loud). I loved the live rendition of “Cascade,” complete with electronics solo. Hadn’t noticed that the song is in 5/8.

The crowd was sympathetic throughout, but particularly strong applause came out for “The Knife,” the poppy surf tune I’d remarked on yesterday. And why not. It’s a good song that’s easy to like.

Dana Street Roasting is trying to provide a home for interesting music in the peninsula/South Bay (prog rock included), and it’s always good to see a healthy sized crowd supporting that kind of effort. Thanks to Dana Street, but also to anyone who came out for that show. Good music needs your support.