3.03.2009

Sgt. Dunbar Packed Full Of Sound

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned miraculously packed all eight members and an army of instruments onto the small stage Saturday night at Pete's Candy Store. The band twisted and contorted their bodies to accommodate the large expanse of the trombone or the scale of the tuba. Even in cramped quarters their musical competence was not compromised. The sound of full-bodied percussion and brass burst with energy. Sgt. Dunbar delightfully gave it their all as the crowd chanted for it not to end!

Dunbar has solidified their roster to a solid eight of talented multi-instrumentalists. They are adept at switching instruments; within seconds a banjo is abandoned for a sax or a trombone to an accordion. The rough and tumble and charming quality of this band has not been lost but upgraded to a tightly woven ensemble with every member contributing to a robust sound.

The mix is a folk / jazz infusion with pulsating inventive percussion, big bold brass instruments that escalate with guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, accordion and awesome full band of voices that swell in-between. Percussion is strong suit; whether they are playing the bass guitar with drumsticks, mouth harp, hand-held bass drum, and saw. It is the web and flow of acceleration between more subtle takes that builds the big stirring dialogue.


They played an energetic nine-song set of old, new and reclaimed songs. Starting with a new song to be released “The Table and the Cup” that had a continuous pounding drum and a four / four time accent of the full orchestra.


Highlighting the influx of weathered jazz was another new one “A March Through Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile”. Alex Muro singing solo flanked by a chorus of passionate hobos and mashed with the one two punch of brass orchestra strut and crashing cymbals. It is an awesome new direction.


“The Weight” was revised with an accelerated tempo going from upbeat to mock speed and a full band chant / sometimes everything seems perfect / sometimes everything just sucks /.

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned have come a long way. From the ambitious band that I reviewed a year ago with so much promise to a band with vision and purpose that is ready for prime time. Filling Pete’s is easy but after tonight I see them in larger yet intimate venues like the Mercury or Bowery.


As many NY Bloggers are reviewing the likes of David Byrne, I was happy to be there witnessing a new generation of great musicians.


Get ready for March 13th the release date of Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned’s new EP
Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile. It is also the date of their tour send off as they make their way from Albany to SXSW. Check their tour dates on MySpace and don’t miss out

Scientific Maps opened. They are sometimes a twosome or foursome. Tonight it was Aaron Smith and Donna Baird. She is also a member of the Sgt Dunbar. Together on stage they are adorable.

Aaron’s witty comments to the audience and affectionate interaction with Donna added to the delight in sharing time with such an affable duo. Tuning his guitar he says “Donna play that trumpet part when you know this happens”. Laughter followed as Donna’s played it straight as if she were just waking up and didn’t realize she was performing. Something about her is zany in the best possible way.


The tunes Aaron writes are easy to love kind of a quirky pop with memorable melodies and offbeat lyrics. Their voices are great together. Aaron on guitar sings and captures attention and Donna adds the charming response with trumpet and vocal. The bands recorded material is upbeat with the addition of drums, keyboard and experimental surprises. I’m ready to spend some time with their music and tonight was a nice introduction.


Scientific Maps nice site

Get ready for March 13th the release date of Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned’s new EP
Charles Mingus’ Garbage Pile. It is also the date of their tour send off as they make their way from Albany to SXSW. Check their tour dates on MySpace and don’t miss out.

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned
Flickr Set
Scientific Maps
Flickr Set

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