, Research Paper
Live Jazz Experience Report – Dag
“They have a word down South to describe the way you feel when your packed into a crowded dive at 1:00 AM, where the cigarette smoke is so thick it makes its own weather; and the waitress is slinging bourbon and Fritos while some bad-ass Jazz Funk band rocks the house as hard as Blue Ridge granite, and the sweat flows down from the stage like the cloudy waters of Pamlico Sound. There’s a word for how you feel when you hear live Jazzy-funk music so sweet and hot, you just gotta shout something. The word is: DAG!” – Columbia Records
There is only one place on earth where I though I could go to experience the true meaning of Jazz and to try to place myself in the shoes of all of the artists I have studied over the past semester. New Orleans, Louisiana is just that place. On April 10, 1996, I boarded a United Airlines plane bound, non-stop, for the “Home of Jazz.”
My goal in New Orleans was to try and have a comparable experience to that of one of the popular Jazz artists would have had upon his/her first visit to New Orleans in the early 1900s. Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, Jimmy Buffet’s Maragaritaville, The Flamingo, the Garden District, and Moolate’s all helped me to get into the proper frame of mind of experiencing true Jazz. The focus of this report will be on my life changing experience at a little place known as The House of Blues. This amazing combination of bar and stage created one of the most conducive atmospheres to music listening that I have ever been involved with. The stage, similar to the Fox, in Boulder and the bar/restaurant, similar to nothing both had a character and charm unique to itself. The ceilings in the bar area were covered by sculpted silhouettes of every major Jazz/Blues artist that ever played there. Images such as Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Dizzie Gillespie, Buddy Bolden, Horace Silvers, and Jelly Roll Morton adorned the walls and ceilings of the HOB (House of Blues). Every beer on tap was a Louisiana original and the only kind of cooking done there was absolutely Cajun.
On Thursday, April 11, 1996, I and 5 friends ventured into the legendary house of Blues. Headlining was a band entitled “Dag.” This up and coming Blues/Jazz/Rock band has been touted as New Orleans newest small success story. With a label on Columbia Records and an album entitled Righteous, Dag is certainly a force in the Jazz industry. The tickets cost only 8 bucks and you could have come in mid-way through the show for free. A far cry from Boulder expense. The band was comprised of four members: vocal bassist Bobby Patterson, guitarist Brian Dennis, keyboardist Doug Jervey and drummer Kenny Soule. The band, originally from Raleigh North Carolina plays a particularly “groovy kind Jazz” using primarily the Bass for a majority of rifts. The band played to a packed house, consisting primarily of middle 20s ages people, with an occasionally more “wise” audience member. The theater, again, much like that of the Fox in Boulder had a dancing “pit” right below it, which was full of college aged students who were dancing with a movement comparable to mixing a 90s dance action with a 70s groovy rhythm.
The music was fast paced and full of energy. Many 32 measure sets were played and I could definitely hear the influence of Bob, Cool Jazz and Hard Bob. A lower tempo was definitely recognized, as well as a mix of jazz and classical elements. The lack of a piano was obvious and seemed to follow the trend of 90s Jazz-Blues rhythms. Additionally, the first set had a heavy emphasis on percussion while the second set focused primarily on the drums. It seems that a lot of their songs are written around a drum rhythm.
Dag played a set that included the songs: Sweet Little Lass, Lovely Jane, Plow, Do Me Good, and Even So. They then took a 15 minute break and came back playing: Righteous, Your Mama’s Eyes, You Can Lick It, Candy, and Saturday Morning. After their second set, they played an encore of a song entitled: Home. One thing worth mentioning about the song titles is their recognizable simplicity. It is my belief that this was done intentionally to further illustrate the complex messages being delivered through a very simplistic musical institution.
Reactions to the band were tremendous. I personally, could not contain myself and was leading the second encore after Home. Upon the completion of the show, I immediately bolted to the bar and got the name and number of the booking agent for the House of Blues so that I could contact her later regarding a possible show at the Fox. ( I am an intern for the Fox theater.) My friends were instrumental in my accurate recollection of the events that night as I was way too excited after the show the think logically. Reviewers agree that Dag is an incredible band:
Raygun Magazine says, “DAG could stand for ‘Dem Are Grooves’… they manage to take it to the bridge and beyond.”
Interview Magazine: “the stunningly spongy debut by four of the funkiest unknown kids ever to come out of North Carolina. Righteous Grooves.”
Pearl Jam’s Dave Abbruzzese: “Laying it down funky… It’s about time someone did.”
Dag recorded their first album, “Righteous” in 1994 at the famous Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama. Artists such as Wilson Pickett, Arethra Franklin, and Rolling Stones made the mark there. “We were making an R&B record, so going down there to record it was like getting the Pope’s blessing.” The band claims inspiration from both Jazz and R&B artists. Patterson unveils most of his inspiration to the song, “What’s Goin’ On,” by Marvin of course, while guitarist Dennis claims allegiance to John Coltrane’s Ballads, and Jimi Hendrix and Aretha Franklin. James Brown and Frank Zappa also had influences on the band.
One of the most amazing things that I noticed about the band was the tremendous depth and quality of the vocals. Patterson’s energy on stage was unsurpassed and definitely came through in the overall performance. Jervey says of Patterson’s intensity, “he’s got a lot of raw energy, but he really is a sweet guy. When he opens his mouth, a lion comes out.” Overall, my experience at the House of Blues was amazing and it is an experience that I will never forget. I am currently in the process of trying to book Dag to play at the Fox or Boulder Theater. It is music like theirs that keeps Jazz alive and current to the trends and markets in our modern society. It is my personal belief, that, because of bands such as Dag, Jazz will never die, only change form to adapt to its environment. The mold of Jazz, however, will never change.