A New Brain For Arnie
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A New Brain For Arnie

Band Alternative Avant-garde


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"LIVE REVIEW: A New Brain For Arnie"

A New Brain For Arnie, Stargazers, 5/21/2010


Bassist Kim Stone took the stage unobtrusively with the house lights up. Canoodling with one of his bass guitars, looking and sounding like he was double checking his tuning, he sat between the drums and keyboards. People were talking, finding seats, but something in my brain fired off: the initial seeming randomness of the notes while the surrounding environment was in flux was performance art taking shape, a head fake. Something in the subtle but pure notes had little nuances, almost carelessly applied, yet studied. Thoughtful. Intentional. Something was going down and nobody else seemed to be noticing. Like a private joke. But deeper than that. I noticed a few more people watching. Listening. Laughter and greetings from a crowd of people arriving and seeing friends wanted to distract me. I noticed drummer Dewey Steele working his way past amps & equipment, sitting down behind his kit, the rest of the band emerging from cubby holes backstage, all getting into place, the lights slowly dimming.

Suddenly and without provocation Stone and Steele laid down a solid funk groove the band immediately jumped in on: welcome to A New Brain For Arnie.

A New Brain For Arnie plays improvisational music with a jazz and funk bedrock, but like any improvisational style, defining the content is hard to classify. This is music that may be heard differently by different people. There’s consistency, but lines get crossed, themes emerge then disappear as they’re overtaken by new ones. You have to let yourself get caught up in the emotional content, and this is an uncomfortable place to be for many people. If you need a simple defined musical space like 12 bars, bridge, turn-around, 2nd verse, chorus, date-night top-40 R&B stuff, you’re not going to get that here consistently although it may happen. Said another way: this is not beer music (well, not domestic, anyway) this is wine music. Ok, let me try again:

Their sound is like this: throw the incessant drive and quirkiness of Weather Report’s Birdland together with a little lighthearted hoedown country rock from Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken, squeeze out some of Frank Zappa’s trippier backgrounds and wall-of-sound psychedlica with rapid-fire guitar arpeggios, jam on a little Duane Allman overlaying some funked out James Brown groove and break it down with reggae accents and you have an idea of what can go down. But here’s the thing: your mileage may vary. What they played this time may not be what they play next time. And the way I heard it may not be the way you may hear it. Sound confusing? It was not bad. In fact: it was very good. Trippy in spots, but by and large danceable and fun.

There are non-verbal queues the band employs for signals: a slight head nod, or Stone reaching up and curving his hand back down to change dynamics or close a song out, some eye-to-eye contact, etc. Alot of watching each other. But it’s an employed sense of composition, theory, and feel that adheres the group together and glues the audience to it. Like a school of fish suddenly changing direction en masse, the band’s direction can change that quickly. The “songs” average 10 minutes. Some longer. Some shorter or perhaps acting like bridges between other songs.

Dewey SteeleThere is an inherent risk with improvisational music: you can get out in the weeds with too much self-indulgence. It may become non-committal. That did happen at least one time during the performance (the way I heard it anyway). At one point all the musicians were off playing “something” but it was an acoustical train-wreck barely strung together by a consistent beat while everyone was searching for a soft place to land and merge again. A little awkward sounding but mercifully brief before a tight funk groove came out of it. But you have to discount these aberrations as a side-effect of the genre and just roll with it if it happens.

Wayne HammerstadtStone’s mastery of bass guitar is evident: slap-and-pop here, multiple note chord progressions there, ethereal riffs consistently applied then lead bass lines breaking out. Steele’s timing and force on the drums was intense but at times playful, but always insanely solid. Guitarists Michael Reese and Wayne Hammerstadt played soaring lines and wistful notes off each other while guitarist Tommy Gallagher provided balanced rhythms, accents, and counterpoint. Keyboardist Bryant Jones added various dynamics and range with anything from soft synth fills to Fender Rhodes R&B sounds to growling and snarling organ work from his Hammond B3 and 50 year old Leslie speaker system.

The overall the production and sound quality at Stargazers for this show was possibly the best I’ve ever heard there, a big fat heavy band sound well mixed and punchy but with a nice clarity. This was an enjoyable show and something that any music lover would enjoy seeing at least once. And who knows? You might get hooked. - The Gazette Telegraph


Studio CD’s: Nov 2009 “Nobody Ever Wins the Giant Panda”



A New Brain For Arnie
Jamband-Funk-Acid Jazz
Music So Good It Will Melt Your Brain

Available for Support or Headline

Led by bassist Kim Stone, (Spyro Gyra, Firefall and The Rippingtons), & L.A. Music Award Winner Guitar Virtuoso Michael Reese

"A New Brain for Arnie" is one of the purest / unique forms of a Jamband in the world today. Complete Improvisation is the mandate of this band, with melodic motives and on the spot arrangements. "A New Brain for Arnie" has been performing and recording for almost 5 years, making their improvisational sensibilities quite complete with a demographic following from 15-70+

Influences from: Allman Brothers Band, Miles Davis, John Coltrane,Derek Trucks, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Widespread Panic, U2, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Dave Matthews & Many Styles & Artists to name.