Project PERCoLAToR

Project PERCoLAToR
Live review

By Lady K
March 2011

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For “grown-ups,” January 20th in the Seacoast area felt a bit like Christmas Eve – all of the excitement and anticipation, but for a much different reason: grown-ups might be thinking more along the lines of “Weider-Eve.” Ever since May 2006, when Jim Weider first brought his Project PERCoLAToR to York, fans anxiously await each visit, marking calendars, counting down the days. And so it happened, Weider-Eve; and then, following yet another multi-inch snowstorm, Jim and the guys took the stage in the ballroom at the York Harbor Inn.

The Project PERCoLAToR (because Jim chose to use lower-case ‘o’ . . .) is: Jim Weider (formerly with The Band; he still tours with his former Band-mate, Levon Helms) – Jim is THE guitar-man (lead, rhythm, slide) and composer of nearly all Project PERCoLAToR tunes; and he willingly shares his joy of live performances with his fans.

Mitch Stein (formerly with the Steve Kimock Band, has toured with David Sanborn) is the OTHER lead-rhythm guitar-dude. Steve Lucas (listen for him in the soundtrack of movie “Precious” and in recordings by Alicia Keyes) is an international recording, touring jazz-bass-man. Rodney Holmes (formerly with Carlos Santana and the Steve Kimock Band) is also an international recording, touring kinda guy, who consistently drums the crowd into a screaming, jumping, frenzy of excitement.

The music is kick-ass groove and atmospheric guitar-driven rock and blues, blended with funk and jazz; resulting in amazing, hypnotic fusion jams. Jim and Mitch effortlessly toss lead and rhythm riffs back and forth, with the raise of an eyebrow (from Jim) or the slight nod of a head (from Mitch). Watching this band perform is akin to watching a tennis match; you want to always know which guitar is doing what at any given moment; audience heads constantly turn right and left, tracking the lead and the rhythm (or vice versa). Seriously, if you are a heavy-duty guitar-aholic, and firmly believe that NOTHING is better than killer electric guitar (because nothing is), you may just consider the emotional ecstasy that the guitars of Jim, Mitch and Steve pulse into your heart as a reasonable substitute for foreplay (I’m just saying ... )

Jim and the guys have released two CDs, the original PERCoLAToR and Pulse, and what they present at shows is music from both CDs, but never with the same sound. The titles are the tunes we love -- “The Maze,” “PERCoLAToR,” “Motivator,” “Troll,” “Prayer,” “Broken Glass” (written by Rodney) -- with familiar intros and endings, but whatever happens between the beginning and the end is never, ever what you think you remember. What happens on stage depends upon which musician is feeling which urge to expand, or fire up a crossfire battle, or knock off a killer riff at any particular time. Jim usually assuages die-hard fans of The Band by squeezing one of their tunes into the program, and on Friday “The Weight” did not disappoint; Steve’s lengthy bass interlude, and a huge multi-guitar flourish brought gasps from the audience.

While the PERCoLAToR fusion doesn’t include vocals (because who needs ‘em?), it seems that lately the guys just feel the need to shout it out, so they’ve added a few tunes with lyrics, including their vocalization on another tune from The Band’s catalog, “Life is a Carnival.” Rodney, usually the least verbal member of the group, took the vocal lead on a memorable version of “Pinball Wizard.” And, in order for this review to make blues sense, Mitch took the lead (vocals and guitar) on a version of “Hey Joe” that would have made Jimi proud and it included one of those hidden-signal segues, where Mitch and Jim stepped back for one of Rodney’s famous multi-multi-minute drum events – which every fan has come to expect at a PERCoLAToR show.

If you are a fan of the Weather Channel, you may just catch “PERCoLAToR” or “New Day” playing behind “Local on the 8’s” – happens every couple of months for a week or two. Maybe that’ll hold you ‘til Project PERCoLAToR comes back in the spring, maybe not.

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