Barefoot Fred
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Barefoot Fred

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
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"3.3.11 | The Electric Boogaloo, Old Shoe, Raoul Duke, Barefoot Fred, Elfkowitz"

This was no ordinary night of music. Usually a show with a bunch of local bands like this is all about teamwork, bringing out a solid crowd, and just having fun together. But on this night there was an added dimension to the whole thing: competition. These bands weren't just playing on the same bill, they were trying to play better than everyone on the bill. You see, this was a play-in contest for Summercamp Music Festival. Whoever got the most fan votes was the winner. For something like this, the only logical choice I could make was to wait until the very end to cast my vote. Give everyone an equal shot to impress me. But, in the end, it was clear that not everyone felt that way.



I arrived early enough to catch the first artist, DJ Elfkowitz. And right off the bat I knew he was doomed. He was definitely good at what he was doing. His thumping, heavy-electro set got the handful people in the house dancing. But that's just it. Not only was he scheduled first, therefore setting him up for a trickle-in of people. But he was a one-man show slotted to basically "open" for four bands. At least that's the way it came off to me. I liked what he threw down, but he had about as good a shot at winning as I do of dunking a basketball. Oh well, the rest of the competition would be neck-and-neck all night.





As soon as Elfkowitz left the stage, the announcer declared that Barefoot Fred was up next. Immediately, a huge cluster of people to my right let out a hearty cheer. All of a sudden, the room felt much more full and it seemed like they brought in a busload of their fans. It was a good feeling having the Abbey more packed for this huge showcase of local talent. Fred leaped into their set and I could tell why these guys had a strong draw-- they were damn good. They had a straight-up, pure jamband sensibility about them that I really enjoyed. Ryan Budyak and Ryan Stevens particularly impressed me with consistently locked-in guitar interaction. These guys had a few moments of sneaky rage but overall had a very benevolent & easygoing attitude. For my first experience, these guys were a lot of fun. If the contest ended right there I would have had no problem voting for them. They played a solid show all around.

But the contest wasn't over yet. Although judging by the amount of crowd turnover after Barefoot Fred their fans apparently thought it was. I can understand being a fan of that band-- they were certainly good. But casting your vote and hitting the road immediately following their set pretty much defeats the purpose of the contest, no? It felt that way to me. Now I was suddenly hoping the rest of the bands all had some cadre of fans to drop into the Abbey Pub for their set...







But it wasn't to be. There was a nice crowd when Raoul Duke hit the stage, but it didn't feel as focused on this particular band as the previous set. Which was a bummer, because Duke was damn good as well. These guys brought a much more open flowing, electronic energy to the show. As usual, Matt Rezetko and Ramsey Zabout both really stood out to me. Rezetko was a percussion machine, hammering with deft force through a wide range of tempos-- spacy grooves up to all-out raging. While Zabout demonstrated his guitar skill in a similar manner by exploring some lively noodles but also building some powerful crescendos. They put together a solid set with wall-to-wall segues & jamming that ended up being a little more electronic & celestial than I expected. Which was surprising because Brian Feldkamp had only one synthesizer. No computers or other wild gadgetry. He just squeezed a ton of different sounds out of that one instrument. They wrapped the set in a curious way when they invited Dan Wonsover (Zmick) to sing on a cover of Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name Of." I definitely enjoyed this explosive song, but I thought they would want to go out with their best original song. You know, in the proud spirit of competition.







The crowd seemed to level off to a comfortable number and maintained the energy as Old Shoe ripped into their set. I had no previous experience with this band, and I have to say, these guys left me more pleasantly surprised than any of the other bands. I just didn't see this blend of jam rock, southern rock, blues, and bluegrass coming. Although the bluegrassy flavor only really stood out when Dan Huber busted out his sick electric upright bass. His traditional electric bass was cool and all, but man, that stand-up bass was something else. It had so much power. In combo with Huber's relentlessly high-stepping basslines it gave me a sensation of fat bass coming straight up through my heels to vibrate my spinal jelly. In other words, it was fucking awesome. He even busted out a bow to unleash even more rib-rattling moans of low tones. But these guys weren't all bass. They had an equally stellar knack for guitar interplay as Barefoot Fred, but these sections were all about the dirty blues. Basically, Old Shoe kicked ass and totally took me by surprise. At this point, I honestly would have had a difficult time voting. All three of the bands I had seen were all fantastic in their own way. But the final band would clear things up for me in a hurry...







For up last was The Electric Boogaloo. And even although I had never seen one of their shows, I felt like I had a good grasp on the quality of their sound just based on the fact that I have seen most of the members play in other bands that I enjoy. But for my taste, this was the finest performance I had seen from any of these guys yet. This was simply the most robust, mature, and well-developed sound of the evening. They had this prog rock-upon-jamband energy that was incredible to me. Mike Cantella and Alex Blackshere laid down the bricks of the foundation-- solid, dense, and ready. Then Doug Ferdinand and Neal O'Hara filled in all the crevices--and even laid out some nice landscaping--with their keys/synths. But then, the guitar duo of Mike Sonnefeldt and Igor Voltchenko showed up and just built the whole fucking house. A mansion too. Barefoot Fred and Old Shoe both had fantastic dual guitar mingling. But Boogaloo was on a completely different planet. Sonnefeldt and Voltchenko had pinpoint chemistry and created supreme harmonies that towered over the crowd like some mythical beast. I'm reticient to say this--and I don't dare invoke the names of the masters without good reason--but these guys had a Bayliss-Cinninger type of thing going on.

About three quarters of the way through their set, after I snapped myself out of a jammed-out stupor, I turned around to cast my vote. Everybody had been awesome; there seriously wasn't a bad apple in the bunch. I thought all of the bands could certainly play at Summercamp, but in my eyes, there was one clear winner... and they were the ones still playing. The Electric Boogaloo won my vote emphatically, and frankly, I thought for certain they were going to win. But when the announcer crowned Barefoot Fred the winner, I was momentarily shocked. And then I remembered... their fans came out in droves to stuff the ballot box. Which isn't a bad thing. I voted differently, after seeing all of the bands, but I'm stoked for Barefoot Fred. They were very good and I think they will fit in perfectly at Summercamp. And now I will try even harder to catch their set! - Chicago Jam Scenes


"The Field Trip Festival to Celebrate the Grateful Dead"

A number of bands will celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s legendary performance at Veneta, OR’s Old Renaissance Faire Grounds on August 27, 1972. The Field Trip festival will take place at Vasa Park in South Elgin, IL on August 27 and 28. The event will feature a number of Chicago-area performers, as well as former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten and longtime Grateful Dead contributor Bob Bralove. The festival will also feature Mr. Blotto, Terrapin Flyer, This Must Be The Band, Cosmic Railroad, Juniper Mays, Bonzo Terks, Barefoot Fred, Tula, Paul Abella Trio and many others.The Grateful Dead’s 1972 performance at the Oregon County Fair was a benefit for Springfield Creamery run by Chuck Kesey (Ken’s brother). The group returned to the site in 1982 and planned to return a third time in 1992 before health problems caused Jerry Garcia to cancel a series of Grateful Dead dates. - Jambands.com Relix


"Barefoot and happy"


Barefoot and happy
Matt Conner
Special to Metromix
August 11, 2010
The six guys in Barefoot Fred realize luck is on their side. Not just in a career sense — they’ll be opening for Phish at Noblesville’s Green Acres Campground — but when it comes to weather and traffic accidents as well.

“Last month, we played a festival that was plagued by a torrential downpour,” says Shane LaVigne, the Chicago jam band’s percussionist. “I mean, it wasn’t letting up for anything. As our time slot approached, we had already accepted our fate. We set up our gear, took the stage, and began to play.

“As if someone were looking down on us, the rain instantly stopped. The people in attendance came out and got their groove on. The weather held up for our entire set, and as strangely as it started, began to pour almost simultaneously with our last note. It was unreal. Trust me, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.”

That someone up in the sky also offered a helping hand when the band was traveling back from a gig in southern Illinois. Their trailer unhitched and sped past their van in the middle of a four-lane highway. Yet, they avoided an accident, and their gear was totally fine due to “Tetris-like packing.”

“A man who witnessed the entire event got out to help, and promptly informed me to go buy a lottery ticket as I may be the luckiest man he has even met,” LaVigne said.

Now, the band gets to warm up Phish phans (or phriends or phamily), some of the most die-hard fans in the world of music. LaVigne says Barefoot Fred will play mostly original tunes from its own fusion of funk, jazz, reggae and rock, but plans to drop in a couple surprise covers.

As for playing any Phish songs? “We’ll leave that to them.” Guess a band has to know when to stop pushing its luck.

- Metromix: Indy Star


"Barefoot and happy"


Barefoot and happy
Matt Conner
Special to Metromix
August 11, 2010
The six guys in Barefoot Fred realize luck is on their side. Not just in a career sense — they’ll be opening for Phish at Noblesville’s Green Acres Campground — but when it comes to weather and traffic accidents as well.

“Last month, we played a festival that was plagued by a torrential downpour,” says Shane LaVigne, the Chicago jam band’s percussionist. “I mean, it wasn’t letting up for anything. As our time slot approached, we had already accepted our fate. We set up our gear, took the stage, and began to play.

“As if someone were looking down on us, the rain instantly stopped. The people in attendance came out and got their groove on. The weather held up for our entire set, and as strangely as it started, began to pour almost simultaneously with our last note. It was unreal. Trust me, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.”

That someone up in the sky also offered a helping hand when the band was traveling back from a gig in southern Illinois. Their trailer unhitched and sped past their van in the middle of a four-lane highway. Yet, they avoided an accident, and their gear was totally fine due to “Tetris-like packing.”

“A man who witnessed the entire event got out to help, and promptly informed me to go buy a lottery ticket as I may be the luckiest man he has even met,” LaVigne said.

Now, the band gets to warm up Phish phans (or phriends or phamily), some of the most die-hard fans in the world of music. LaVigne says Barefoot Fred will play mostly original tunes from its own fusion of funk, jazz, reggae and rock, but plans to drop in a couple surprise covers.

As for playing any Phish songs? “We’ll leave that to them.” Guess a band has to know when to stop pushing its luck.

- Metromix: Indy Star


Discography

LP: Worship the Sun (2009)
Single: Live at the Elgin Roadhouse 10:25

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Bio

Hungry…

This is perhaps the most accurate way to describe the culmination of musicians that manifests in the form of Barefoot Fred. Through constant self challenge Barefoot Fred continues to push their limits of songwriting and live performance. With a dedication to quality, consistency, and an elevated passion for music, the band allows itself to take on various musical forms and explore the space that can open up new doors of expression previously unheard or unfelt. The band possesses a commitment to professionalism that allows this type of articulation to be successful.

By some strange form of fate, six seasoned musicians came together to form Barefoot Fred in 2008.
Though each had honed their skill through gigs in and around Chicago. The combination made the whole even greater than the sum of it's parts. It is through their unique interplay that Barefoot Fred comes alive.

With an obligation to constant growth and improvement , Barefoot Fred’s music is not limited to any specific musical style. Although rooted in the pure American concept of improvisation, their music is structured in such a way that specific ideas and themes can be drawn from each song. One will catch various tinges of rock, funk, bluegrass, reggae, jazz, country, and blues combined with world influences in their music.

Barefoot Fred has quickly made a significant impact on their growing and loyal fan base. From their very first gig, Barefoot Fred has proven that they are a musical force to be reckoned with. While their more recent gigs have demonstrated that each show will be better than the last. Barefoot Fred brings a significant following of fans to each show and always leaves with more Barefoot fans than they brought.

Their first LP, Worship the Sun has been recorded and is expected out by the summer of 2010. It will be a reflection of the musical themes, concepts, and dedication that Barefoot Fred insists upon delivering to its fans.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

-Lao Tzu