The Dendrites have been playing throughout Colorado since 2003, embodying the sounds of 1960's traditional reggae, rocksteady and ska, while combining elements of modern day jazz and rock. In 2009, they released their debut album "Mountain Standard Time" on Megalith Records and proceeded on a summer tour of the West Coast. After returning home, they spent time preparing for a live album, which was independently released by the band in early 2011.
Now, they continue to play better and better gigs in the Colorado, write new music, and add members making the band a plentiful orchestra of Ska. The Dendrites have shared the stage with nationally known artists such as: The Skatalites, The Slackers, The Drastics, Unwritten Law, The Voodoo Glow Skulls, King Django, Suburban Legends, The Debonaires, Fishbone and OzoMatli.
Kyle Gollob: Lead Guitar
Andy McClellan: Drums
Keith Turner:Rhythm guitar
Phil Yoo: Keys
Alex Wynn: Bass
Dan Madden: Trumpet
Keith Larsen: Trombone
Matt King: Alto Sax
Mont Brown: Tenor Sax
John Olson: Congas/Percussion
The Dendrites - Self Titled - 2011
Mountain Standard Time (Megalith Records) -2009
Concert review - The Slackers with the Dendrites 6 January 2011 (Aggie Theatre, Ft Collins CO)
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Concert review - The Slackers with the Dendrites 6 January 2011 (Aggie Theatre, Ft Collins CO) A...Concert review - The Slackers with the Dendrites
6 January 2011 (Aggie Theatre, Ft Collins CO)
A ska dance party is a great way to start the year. The two bands had very different perspectives on ska. The Dendrites, out of Denver, aimed for a classic '70s style instrumental ska groove, while the Slackers played their wonderful retro blend of soulful ska. Both bands were tight and got the crowd dancing. The only thing that would have made it better would be if there had been a little cross pollination with members from either band sitting in with the other, because each had their own flavor.
While there have been plenty of hit instrumental records over the years. it's tough for a purely instrumental pop music band to make its mark. Sure, jazz bands and others do it all the time, but they have lots of room to work with. For a pop, blues, or ska band to pull it off, they need to be phenomenal players. Even then, they must have the charisma and personality to build rapport and stage presence. It's easier with vocals -- there's a clearer way to send a message and connect. It's hard to leave all of that to the music alone.
Last night, though, the Dendrites showed no signs of handicap in their fine set. The sound of the horns playing a pre-show warmup, sparked anticipation in the crowd. The band assaulted the stage with a formidable wall of horns. Kicking off their set with Gumbo Hustle, they used the song as an extended introduction to the band. All of the musicians got the chance to show off their chops. Andy McClellan's rollicking drumwork was outstanding. Like many unsung ska drummers, his beat was somewhat buried by the horns, but there were enough drop out moments to really appreciate his detailed tom work.
The other players are just as impressive. In particular, bass player Alex Wynn was amazing; I loved how he could cover the beat and still throw in such intricate fills. The band was by no means introspective, though. In addition to their playing skills, both sax player Mont Brown and guitarist Kyle Gollob got their personalities across. One of the percussionists, Nick Dolan, also took on the role of emcee, running up to the front to goad the audience. This contributed a lot to their stage presence.
For the most part, the Dendrites played a classic 2 Tone style of ska. Songs like Flight School captured the moody sound of the Specials. They pulled in updated sounds, with songs like Armed and Opposed, which were reminiscent of Dire Straits or the Police. Later, on When Was Wednesday, they nailed a bluesy ska soul sound that had a deeper retro vibe. This kind of stylistic flexibility is a big part of what made their set so interesting.
The Slackers always had a distinct take on ska, rooted in the early '60s. Much like the original ska, they took early R&B and fused it to the off beat chank rhythm. They made it their own by blending in more soul and early rock sounds. They've also flirted with reggae and rock steady sounds to round things out. It's been a while since they've been in Colorado and I was excited to hear them again. While they have plenty of good albums, they've made their reputation with their high energy live shows.
Last night was no exception. The rhythm section started things off, but within seconds, the rest of the band was on stage and pounding out Keep Him Away. After the avalanche of brass from the Dendrites, the Slacker's horns sounded thinner, but their exuberance soon drove off the comparison.
The chemistry was perfect as trombonist Glen Pine and keyboard player Vic Ruggiero shared front man duties. Their voices contrasted, with Pine's soulful crooning and Ruggiero's more nasal punch. Glen Pine has clearly developed over years. During the show, he evoked a bit of Frank Sinatra and some of the other greats from that era. He looked so casual as he worked the audience, hitting each nuanced gesture. But he'd always be locked into the groove to come in and nail the horn parts with sax player Dave Hillyard. Similarly, Ruggiero's wise guy vibe was loose and easy, but his keyboard work was tight. His phrasing sounded a bit like Elvis Costello. The balance of styles was amazing.
The band hit a lot of the crowd favorites, like Crazy, Every Day is Sunday, and The Same Everyday. The transitions were smooth and flowing. My favorite song was Cheated, where Marcus Geard (bass) and Jay Nugent (guitar) coordinated a perfectly twinned line during the break. Pine's leering trombone offered a counterpoint to Ruggerio's sullen vocals. It was a great moment. Speaking of special moments, we also got to witness an on-stage proposal (she said "yes"), just adding to the spectacle.
The Slackers played a good long set and briefly stepped offstage. They didn't make us wait long at all, though, before they came back for nice long encore. Dave Hillyard even got a chance to sing one. The closer was a wonderful cover of Sam Cooke's Cupid. Despite throwing in the ska beat, the Slackers stayed close in feel to the original. Ears ringing, it was a skanking good time.
The Duff Guide to Ska
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God save The Dendrites! What with the music industry in shambles (thanks, in large part, to illegal ...God save The Dendrites! What with the music industry in shambles (thanks, in large part, to illegal file sharing), a fragmented American ska scene (still licking its wounds from the crash of the late 90s), and scattershot coverage of the music by bloggers and podcasters, they decide to drop this superb album of instrumental ska on the world now? In a different time (say 1997, when they would have been compared to The Scofflaws, New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, Skavoovie and the Epitones, and Dr. Ring Ding & the Senior Allstars) or place (Europe, Japan, South America, where they are not as rigid in their tastes--anywhere but here), The Dendrites' Mountain Standard Time would be hailed and celebrated by the ska masses--it's that good.
Ostensibly a vintage ska band in The Skatalites mold, The Dendrites (based in Denver, CO) take it all to the next plane, in a manner that reminds one of an act like the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, as The Dendrites' music is influenced by a wide array of genres (surf, latin jazz, soul, reggae/dub, 2 Tone, 1960s movie soundtracks). And there is a wonderful fluidity between these musical styles that brings a complex texture to The Dendrites' songs, as they often take many unexpected turns (see the Dick Dale surf guitar break in "Murder Mystery Weekend," the Eric Dolphy-ish jazz flute riff in "MMGF Dub," or the funky soul intro to "Street Walkin'"). There is also a surprising dreadness--not typically found in the ska-jazz genre--to some of their bass-heavy and dub cuts, like "Head Game" and "Interplanetary Space Sex," that are in a similar vein as those on Dub is a Weapon's powerful Armed and Dangerous EP.
The songwriting, performances, and production captured on Mountain Standard Time are uniformly excellent--there isn't a bum cut on this album (make sure to catch the bonus track at the end, the gorgeously melancholy "Trouble," that features vocals!). While a record brimming with instrumental songs may not to be every ska fan's tastes (I'm looking at you ska-punkers), those who are open to this style of ska will find much to love here.
The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: A-
The Dendrites join Megalith Records
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"Next up are our new comers to the scene. Straight out of the Denver, one of the more creatively "tr..."Next up are our new comers to the scene. Straight out of the Denver, one of the more creatively "traditional" bands I have heard in a long time. I actually stumbled upon this group while in Denver last year. I was at a local record shop, when the kind lady behind the counter informed my that her friend's band would be performing tonight, a tribute to The Skatalites! Of course I was skeptical, but decided to check it out anyway. Needless to say (see we are releasing their debut record) I was very impressed! Not only by the bands excellent covers, but by their totally original second set. I am currently finishing up the artwork for this release, which should be out by the first of February! The Dendrites is the name "Mountain Standard Time" is the album. MEGA 040 is a great sounding atmospheric journey through the recesses of original ska music. It is a must hear!"
Jeremy Patton-Megalith Records
A word from the West...
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"The Dendrites took me back to 1997, when my best buddy got his first car, and we went to see Mustar..."The Dendrites took me back to 1997, when my best buddy got his first car, and we went to see Mustard Plug in the parking lot of a record store near my high school. But unhip as ska may now be, nobody in the bar could resist the groove. There was skanking. Live, the band is ridiculously tight as it is in the studio. And lead guitarist Kyle Gollob ripped out some spot-on Dick Dale licks--an influence I confirmed when I asked him after the set if he liked that aforementioned surf-rocker: "Yeah, totally! Could you tell?""
-John Solomon: The Westword
The Dendrites can play sets ranging from half an hour to 4 hours long. They play mostly original songs, while playing some covers from The Skatalites.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.