The luck of the Irish was definitely strong at Rockwood Music Hall last Thursday evening! After having successfully learned more about a fantastic band called The Rad Trads from an earlier Punchland interview session, I was given the chance to see the men in action for a night of sheer wonder. Other than heading down south for spring break, seeing these fellows perform their eclectic tunes was something I was really looking forward to. On top of that, they were premiering their new video and song, Keith Richards and I, for all of us fans that night. The crew, Michael Fatum, Patrick Sargent, Sam “Tall Sam” Crittenden, Alden Harris McCoy, John Fatum and Michael “Big Red” Harlen certainly gave it their all and it was worth every penny.
Since the spirit of St. Patrick was being broadcast throughout the city via kegs of Guinness and various shades of green, what better way to celebrate than with good ole’ musical mayhem? Heading downtown on a cool spring night, it was entertaining to watch the aftermath of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that introduced massive crowds at almost every bar in sight. In fact, many of us sober folk had to walk in the street in some areas due to the drunken congestion on the sidewalks.
I arrived at Rockwood to an already impressively filled space at Stage Two. The act before were just finishing up as I noticed the motley company of The Rad Trads were eagerly waiting outside for their set to begin. Watching their laughter and smiles as a congregation of friends and fans swirled around them outside, it was apparent that the place was going to become even more packed upon their arrival. My predications were correct as they were finally given the opportunity to set up on stage. The stampede of an entourage came piling in behind them. The sextet would have little room, but I had faith they would be able to keep their music alive and well. They immediately began setting up on stage. They had not even started playing yet and there were already couples making out in the crowd. I guess that is how good they are, the do not even need to play music to get the blood pumping! The crowd even cheered during the sound checks much to the delight of the six members.
Finally, the lights dimmed and they got right into an entertaining Irish jig. We were all Irishmen as we joined in with with handclaps, foot stomps and impeccable harmonies. The Leprechauns would be proud. The horn section was clear and well placed all around. The arrangement was nice and smoothly efficient for a fast paced stream of music that was pleasant to the ears of all. It was a perfect way to open it up and let it breathe. Eventually, the fellas took it forward with a slow funk jam made for getting tight with one another. Again, the horns peaked at perfect intervals to provide a seamless transition between genres and grooves. I loved how throughout the night, each horn had a well deserved solo. For example, Tall Sam’s trombone had a nice a lingering tone with bursts that made people shout for more, the tenor sax man, Patrick, kept his sounds low and deep with his eyes closed to live in the moment and of course Michael Fatum’s trumpet kept its members enthralled with the surges of clean pitch and was quick and agile with his shrill glory. Out of everyone on that stage, John sang with a pure swagger of confidence on the drums while Alden was effortlessly fast with good old classic rock written all over his panache on the guitar. Last but certainly not least was Big Red himself who had the old Buddy Holly boastfulness on the bass. You simply had to love it all!
Their music is like funk and blues for breakfast, you always wake up feeling good after eating it. However, they did not stick to one specific genre that night. Rockabilly was thrown in there for good measure to bring people back to the early days of Rock and Roll. Probably the most entertaining thing about The Rad Trads is their ability to become one with the audience. True to their style and grace, the horn second danced into the crowd and had their prospective moments among the listeners at Rockwood. As the played, they made their way to one another and put their heart and soul into their New Orleans style march. Everyone had to admire their ability and dedication to this intimate element of their craft. People were all smiles from the bar all the way up to the small balcony. It was a delightful mosh pit of horns.
Each one of The Rad Trads was powering that music machine like it was something they were all born to do everyday. They were friends indeed with bouts of laughter and smirks always emitting between one another. They were all schoolboys with their musical toys. As the show progressed, a form of country jazz was introduced as well with a passion worthy of the signature twang. Proof of the complimentary appeal of the musical friends was the banter they all held with each other. For example, Michael Fatum kept saying things to the Patrick during his solos to try to make him laugh. He succeeded with grins from Patrick, as he stayed focused on his instrument. Their harmonies had a certain energy that brought out the best in everyone up there. They all sang. Even Patrick sang his heart out for a profound tune. He was on the ground and letting it all out for the world to hear. Glancing around at the space, people were twisting and turning happily with the music. This was how every music show should be anywhere, alive and full of spirit. The Rad Trads knew exactly how to tap into that musical joy.
As the show came to a close, they introduced their new single Keith Richards and I. Encouragement was the power of the group and I for one loved that element. A collective filled by a unique labor of love is both moving and powerfully fun. The Rad Trads surely are masters of that world and will be sure to only grow with time! I recommend everyone check them out and join in on their fun, you will be happy you did.