I’ve been hearing good things about some of the newer venues in Arlington, and I’ve been hearing great things about the jazz/funk band Mix Magyk. So when I found out about a show featuring the band at The Chuggin’ Monk, a pool hall on Collins, I put aside my usual phobia of Arlington traffic and went.
Much of this place is taken up by pool tables, and there’s even a ping pong table. How cool is that? But in the back half of the room there’s a sizable stage and seating area for live music. They have honest-to-god tables to sit at, and even a comfy couch (which I laid claim to — Sheldon Cooper-style — as my spot for the evening. A waitress actually came to my couch and took my drink order; I love this place already.
The band Sharpy was setting up. This a three-piece consisting of Chris Perez (guitar, vocals), Joe Guzman (bass, backing vocals), and David Welty (drums).
These guys took the stage sporting matching hats, matching shirts, and matching white shiny ties. I wasn’t sure what kind of band they were but I was thinking blues maybe, jazz or soul? I’ve seen them play now, and I still couldn’t tell you.
The bass player started out with an almost slap bass kind of thing but it fell flat. Lead vocals were good, the drums were excellent and Chris Perez was flamboyant and animated as a frontman. There was some creativity in the songwriting and yet none of it worked together.
The overall effect was kind of a punk garage band — and not the trendy use of the term garage band, but more like a group of friends who get together to play. It was reminding me of bands I’ve been in where we got bored and all tried to play each other’s instruments at practice — and then they all tried to play each other’s instruments, with Perez moving to bass, Guzman playing drums and Welty shredding on guitar. Welty did a good job of it anyway.
One of the people in the audience described it as kind of a punk version of Spinal Tap, and maybe that’s what they were going for.
Mix Magyk was up next though, and with Julian Ayacannoo (keyboard) Marquise Jones (sax) and Craig Kleiman (drums) of the Effinays in this mess, I thought it couldn’t be less than epic. The rest of the band consisted of Matt Garcia (bass), TJ Hearne (sax) Michael Daniels (guitar) and Marcus Ybarra (sax).
Turns out I was right. Where the Effinays leans towards the funk with a side of jazz, Mix Magyk take gives you some serious jazz with just enough funk to keep things lively.
All of these guys are amazing musicians, and this band is more than tight. Julian’s keyboard work was phenomenal, and it is rare that I am as impressed by a bass player as I was with Garcia. His bass work was precise and complex without being overly showy or tasteless. Kleiman’s percussion gave the band a rock solid foundation. Daniels was solid on guitar and the brass section was saxy perfection. Mix Magyk is one of my new favorite bands, and Chuggin’ Monk goes on my list of places to watch for my weekly live music fix.