Jim Weider’s Percolator Project groooves in an intimate setting..
Filed under: Review — John - drums @ 2:09 pm
If you’ve never heard of Jim Weider’s Percolator Project, then you’re not alone. I had never heard of the project either until late last week when I scored two tickets to see them perform from Tim Jackson of the New River Voice (Thanks Tim!). Jim Weider was the guitarist for The Band for about 15 years and that’s about all I knew walking in.
“The Project” performed at the Kirk Ave Music Hall in downtown Roanoke. I had also never been to the Kirk Ave Music Hall, so the whole night was going to prove to be a new and exciting experience for me.
Walking up to the music hall at night you wouldn’t think much of it. It was somewhat dark outside, but everything I saw was either under construction in some way, or hadn’t yet started construction. The front entrance has cardboard boxes on the ground to cover up the broken sidewalk and gravel underfoot. If I hadn’t been actively looking for this place, I never would have noticed it buried in a sea of broken concrete and stashed away on a side street.
As I entered the venue, I noticed that it is really just an incredibly long and narrow room. There is a table immediately to my left where I was greeted by smiling faces taking money and checking tickets. Immediately to the right of the entrance there is a small ABC counter where I picked up a couple of beers to sip on while we watched the performance.
The way the room was setup was most intriguing to me. There were maybe 8 tables with 6 chairs per table in front of a small stage that was cloaked with black cloth on three sides. Each table had a black tablecloth where a candle decorated the center. I noticed at least 4 PA speakers perched high on the walls, and a sound guy manning the small board behind us. With one wall being brick and the other sheet rock, the venue had been treated acoustically with panels adorning the walls in some places, and long curtains in other places. Some random pieces of artwork hung between the acoustic treatments giving the room sort of a coffee shop feel. If I had to describe the venue in one word, that word would be “intimate.” It’s the perfect type of venue to catch a band like Jim Weider’s Percolator Project.
The group is made up of four incredibly talented individuals. Jim Weider and Mitch Stein play guitar, Steve Lucas plays the 6 string bass and the amazing Rodney Holmes sits behind the kit. After a few minutes tuning their guitars and a few words from Jim, they kick into their first tune creating a wall of sound.
They played songs from their new upcoming album including the tune “Flight” which creates layer upon layer of textures that allow Jim to really shine on his guitar. His solo work is not just amazing and fun to watch, but he’s also got soul behind what he’s doing.
Mitch and Jim trade licks in most of the tunes they play, and both of them are definitely experts at their craft. Their music takes you through a journey that has highs and lows that can get gradually more intense but then, without warning, they’ll transition into something soft and subtle with nothing more than a look or a nod.
To describe their sound a bit, it makes me think that this is what prog rock would be like if it had an organic groove and feel to it. There are times when it’s heavy like Clutch and times when it’s soft like Medeski Martin and Wood. The combination of styles meshed together can’t help but draw you into their sound. Project Percolator is where technical ability meets organic feel.
As I looked around the venue at the people watching the show, I saw a group of folks all sharing that same magical groove that the Percolator Project was dishing out. Heads from wall to wall were bobbing up and down.
Steve lays down a fat and solid bass line through every tune and even has a chance to show his stuff on his six string bass during “Man Cry,” an epic tune that really allows everyone to shine. A most capable bassist, he is the glue that keeps this band rolling along.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Rodney Holmes play the drum kit. His relentless time keeping and intricate rhythms added yet another layer of texture that really make this band take off. In my humble opinion, he stole the show more than once with his speed, his poly-rhythms between the toms and double bass, his chops and most importantly, his groove. Once he finds a pocket to sit in, nothing can shake him.
As a drummer, I sat and watched, slack jawed, as this guy started to play fills where it just didn’t seem possible to come back to one; but without fail, every time it would come back around and he would hit the down beat like it was the most natural thing in the world. His ability to play with speed and intensity along with his ability to find that groove and never leave it, is what really makes this band cook.
Of course he had an amazing and impeccable drum solo about 3 quarters of the way through the show (during Man Cry), and it had everyone in the venue on their feet, whistling and applauding.
The show ended about an hour and a half after it began, and the crowd’s raucous cheers brought the Percolator Project back on stage for an encore song. Their encore was a song they’ve been working on for an upcoming album, and from what Jim said, it doesn’t even have a name yet. Like all the songs they performed, the encore was an astounding example of musicianship and groove.
If you like to groove, then this band is worth checking out. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
And if you want an intimate place to check out LIVE music, check out Kirk Ave Music Hall in downtown Roanoke.
Til next time…
The MOOSE rules!
Mitch is an excellent guitar player. Besides the Steve Kimock band and Project Percolator you can hear Mitch's guitar work on NBC sports programs and The World's Strongest Man. He does a lot of work for television. The next time you hear an amazing guitar solo during an intro or outro from NBC sports it just may well be Mitch.
I'm pretty sure that weider was with The Band when they opened for the GD's last ever two shows in Chicago. I was at the second to last show, and The Band's set kicked ass. The GD's last tour was what it was...
Weider did play with the Band when they opened for the Grateful Dead.
Caught these guys in Ashville on the 7th. Everything JerryC sez is right on. One of the best bands going. All four are such damn good musicians that you can't focus on just one guy before one of the other's makes you go "Whoah!!"
I'd seen Rodney and Mitch before with Kimock melted my face then, but now they'll melt your face,"steal your woman, then they'll rob your head"