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Frogwings: Croakin' at Toad's

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All jamband imitators step aside, for the first supergroup has arrived!FROGWINGS. Frogwings, originally put together byButch Trucks(legendary drummer and founder of theAllman Brothers Band) in May of ’97 as a side project, played a handful of Northeast shows this past year and the result is Croakin' at Toad’s releasing October 3rd on Flying Frog Records.

Trucks, who is President ofFlying Frog Records (FFR)and its A&R ears, is primarily looking for self-contained bands that tour a lot. FFR is artist friendly and not a traditional label in its operations. Instead of sending a group into a recording studio and wasting a lot of time while the bills pile up, Flying Frog uses digital recording equipment and lets its artists record in a friendly space.

And there is no friendlier place for a Frog to record than at a club calledToad’s Place, which is located in New Haven, CT (one cut was taken from The Wetlands show in NYC). And no Frog could have greater size wings to soar than those hoisted up by:Butch Trucks– drummer, of the Allman Brothers Band (ABB);Marc Quinones– percussionist, of the Allman Brothers Band;Otiel Burbridge– bassist, also of the Allman Brothers Band;Jimmy Herring– guitarist, of the Aquarium Rescue Unit/ Jazz is Dead;Kofi Burbridge– keyboardist and flutist, Oteil’s brother and also a member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit;John Popper– harp and vocals, of Blues Traveler; and on slide guitarDerek Trucks, Butch’s nineteen year old nephew who’s already being touted as a prodigy and has been indoctrinated as a permanent Allman Brothers Band member.

So, now that the hand has been dealt a royal flush and laid down face up for the world to see, there is no reason to bluff with a bunch of primadonna rhetoric. These guys blast off on “Kick N Bach”, which teeters over 13 minutes before sliding into “Hurdy Gurdy” a Blues Traveler-ish romp and “Pattern”, a shuck n funk, stomp and shuffle. From there things boil over on the 16 minute “Eddie’s Got A Boyfriend” with some downright out-of-this-world guitar speak a la Jeff Beck by wunderkind Jimmy Herring. He has spoken again, is anybody listening?

Next up is “Just One”, a blues breaker which brews with Derek Trucks trading his life for slide, Popper as soulful on his harp as he is on vocals and Kofi Burbridge unleashing a commanding mastery of the keys. Is it time for a breather? Hardly, for the junkyard dog enters Toad’s Place and bears its teeth in preparation for song with the baddest bite, the rocket fueled“Ganja”that barrels ahead with a mean ass riff, powered by bottom feeder bass and a drum bonanza by Butch Trucks that would pummel most unsuspecting humans into blissful submission. The song just burns the whole time but explodes during the last minute and a half, the kind of energy that makes me realize that onlookers must have had some fairly long jaws, ones that easily reached the floor. There are also plenty of nods to the classic ABB sound as evidenced on “Deviant Dreams” which is rife with twin harmony guitar lines and augmented by a velocity driven Kofi Burbridge flute solo.

There’s really no reason for me to go on and on with Marshall stacks full of adjectives, if you like a mix of blistering guitar, soul-vibrating bass, pulverizing drums, heated percussion, blowin’ harp and pulsating keyboards who’s culmination will make you close your eyes, wince your mouth and waver your skull as if you’re being riddled with razor sharp musical bullets, then you’ll be Croakin’ in your pants, the same way the lucky few who were on hand at Toad’s did.


Personnel:

Kofi Burbridge (keyboards, flute) / Otiel Burbridge (bass) / Jimmy Herring (guitar) / John Popper (harp, vocals) / Marc Quinones (percussion) / Butch Trucks (drums) / Derek Trucks (slide guitar)

Title: Croakin' at Toad's | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Flying Frog Records

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