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February 20, 2001

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Dr. Dan
Dan on the Moon
Terminus Records

In his solo debut, Dan on the Moon, veteran keyboardist "Dr.Dan" Matrazzo steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight. With a jazzy blend of fusion, funk and blues, Dr. Dan shows the flexibility of musical style that made him a favorite accompanist to such divergent acts as Blues Traveler, Cowboy Junkies, Wide Spread Panic and Phish. Dr. Dan honed his keyboard style first as a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, then in the mid-eighties as a part of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown’s band and later as a founding member of The Figi Mariners with Col. Bruce Hampton.

Along with producer David Z and an array of seasoned musicians, this Atlanta based musician has put together a technically seamless album. Unfortunately, the CD is strong on style but short on spark. Full of funky bass, jazzy beats and a mix of electric and acoustic keyboard, Dan on the Moon is pleasant but it rarely rises above "mood" music. Dr. Dan is obviously a talented musician, but I fear he is destined to impress more for the "names" he has played with than for this solo effort. Most of the songs on the CD sound vaguely familiar. "Timeless" is the one song that does stand out but one wonders if it is Matrazzo’s composition or Sam Sim’s performance that catches the ear. All in all Dan on the Moon makes for "easy" listening but is destined only for the shelves of musicians and his most loyal fans.

-- Thomi Sharpe

Critically acclaimed songwriter Jim White will bring his folk-rock band to O’Rouke Irish Pub in downtown Mobile on March 3rd. The show is being billed as a warm-up gig before the band starts an extensive tour in support of Jim White’s new album, No Such Place. Like his previous record, Wrong-Eyed Jesus (released in 1997), the new one is on Luaka Bop Records and features David Byrne of the Talking Heads as a producer. Several record company executives are expected to be in attendance for the show which will also feature Mobile’s best up-and-coming band, Morris Minor, as an opening act.

Listeners of local radio station WZEW may have heard Jim White’s new single, "Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi," being played recently. It’s a typical Jim White song/story set in Coastal South involving the ordeal of some bizarre, desperate miscreant. While it’s easy to classify the music of Jim White as alt-country or folk-rock, his songs often tend towards a Southern Gothic style. The lyrics can sometimes read like Flannery O’Connor short story (in fact, the CD booklet for Wrong-Eyed Jesus consists of a short story by Jim White) and involve similar grotesque characters such as crazy Jesus freaks and female serial killers. At age 43, Jim White is no spring chicken. Though he calls Pensacola his home now, most of his life has been spent traveling. Before becoming a musician, he held such disparate jobs as a male model in Europe and a cab driver in New York City.

Nowadays, Jim White’s stage appearance can be likened to a slightly warped Townes Van Zandt. There’s little doubt that the man is a natural born yarn spinner. During his shows, he enjoys sitting on a barstool telling anecdotes and conversing with the crowd between songs.

When you come out to see Jim White in concert (O’Roukes should be an excellent close setting) don’t expect a slick rock show. Though the musicians with him are talented, there will not be a lot of fancy guitar licks or catch hooks. Instead, expect an entertaining performer with a bit of Tom Waits quirkiness, but in a Southern vernacular. I think most people will agree, when it comes to American songwriters, Jim White is in the thick of it.

-- Chuck Cox


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