It’s been a while since I hit the Magnolia Motor Lounge, and I’ve been missing the place.
The kitchen closes at 10, but Monday night (as has happened two times prior) I got there well before and still couldn’t get an order in before they shuttered the kitchen. Luckily, the music at the Motor Lounge has no such curfew and that’s what I was there for: Impulse of Will, a new revival of an old jam.
“ [It’s] just some old dudes playing some tunes,” said Lucas White. “It came from the old Wreck Room jams on Wednesday night, back when Ken Shimamoto would come jam and all sorts of other dudes. [It’s] pretty much the same sort of thing, an open invitation to whoever wants to play with people they may not normally get to play with in a band-type setting. But the core group is Lee Allen, Ron Geida, John Shook and myself. James Hinkle comes out sometimes, and Tyrel Choat brings his gear up there sometimes to shred. Andrew Skates tries to make it out with an organ or guitar when he’s not too busy.”
Monday, we had Lee Allen (five-string bass), Ron Geida (guitar), John Shook (six-string bass), Lucas White (drums) and Tyrel Choat (guitar). These are some of the top names in music in Funkytown, and you’ll notice that there were 11 strings of bass up there — that’s seven more strings than most bands.
They (sort of) do covers and take audience requests.
Hotel California apparently cost 300 bucks (at least half up front), and they’ll play songs they don’t even know. Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing took a terrible beating (although Geida nailed the solo), but they gave it a shot with Lee reading the lyrics off of his phone while singing (damn lucky thing they thought to have two bass players). They did a request for Jimi Hendrix’s Fire, which somehow morphed into War Pigs by Black Sabbath. We got a couple of Jeff Beck numbers, and even the Beatles’ Come Together.
But to call Impulse of Will a cover band doesn’t do it justice.
“It’s definitely not a ‘note for note’ type of thing,” White said, “like, say, [Big Mike Richardson’s] Box of Rock — more of an open, improv-ish style of playing tunes.”
Lucas White is one of the most solid drummers playing in Funkytown, and I’ve seen him play with Villain Vanguard, Confusatron and even sit in for Sally Majestic. Throw anything at him and I imagine he can play it.
Both Shook and Allen are formidable bass players, and Allen plays a bass solo that people actually want to listen to. Geida (another Villain Vanguard alum) makes anything he plays, no matter how complicated, look effortless. When I see his name on the bill, I know it’s going to be a class show. Choat contrasted things with a harder-edged sound. This is the first time I’ve seen him perform and he’s as good as I’ve heard. Basically, if they had just one more drummer they would have two complete three piece bands that are each better than most of the groups you’ll see anywhere else.
The show Monday was cut short due to some booking confusion (another band was also booked to play). Impulse of Will plays every odd-numbered Monday, so I’ve got time to catch them again. I can’t imagine a more fun way to finish off a Monday.
“It’s a pretty fun time,” said White, “and you never know what’s going to happen. We’ve written songs on the spot, and I’ve freestyle rapped about random topics that the audience picks. But that’s only when the vodka balance is just right.”