Local supergroup Zappy LaReel jams for free

The band will play a free show at The Blue Note on Saturday.

By Brandon Foster | Jan. 21, 2011

Tags: Concerts Local artists Music

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Generally, there is a pretty strong relationship between the amount of time a band spends practicing and the number of fans that band has. Not so for Zappy LaReel.

The Columbia-based supergroup, comprised of members from Z.A.P., Slippy LaRue and Reelfoot does not practice together.

“We keep talking about practice, but I’m not sure that’ll ever happen,” bassist and Z.A.P. member Joe Schnell said.

Instead, the band picks a starting ground and just starts jamming.

“We usually pick a key — say like A minor or something like that — and we’ll loosely base a style of music on it,” guitarist and Slippy LaRue member Andy Launder said. “Say like ‘A minor funk jam,’ and that’s really all it is.”

Minimal practice and organization has not cost Zappy LaReel followers. In fact, it is just the opposite: more fans are coming to the supergroup’s shows than to the shows of the individual bands.

“The crowd has been a huge fuel behind the project,” drummer and Slippy LaRue member Devin Kemp said.

The band’s improvisational style allows them to communicate with the crowd through music.

“(It is) just a relay of energy from the band to the crowd and the crowd to the band,” guitarist and Reelfoot member Andrew Allen said. “The crowd also gives back to the band, provides the means for the band to provide the music. If there was no crowd, it’d be shitty. Both times we’ve done it the crowd was really into it.”

The band played their debut show when another band cancelled at Mojo’s. Allen said the concert sold out despite only three days’ notice. The crowd’s enthusiasm allows the group to determine when to end its improvisational songs, which have lasted as long as 30 minutes.

“If you can catch the crowd kind of losing interest, then you’ll kind of slow it down and end it, but if the crowd is going buck wild and raging then you’ll just keep it going,” Allen said. “You just feed into the crowd and give them what they want.”

The band plays Jan. 22 at The Blue Note, with Goodness Gracious opening. The concert, like the band’s previous two, will be free, in an effort to give back to the music community and the band’s fans.

“Everyone we hang out with is a part of one big community, in terms of the music scene here,” keyboardist and Reelfoot member Ted Paletta said. “We wouldn’t know each other without it. Every one of our fans that comes to our shows—it’s a way to give back to them. Like, hey, we’re all in it together on stage.”

New fans can expect to see a “funktronica” concert on Saturday with an emphasis on “fun.”

“Fun for the sake of fun,” Kemp said. “It’s not about us. It’s about the whole thing: the energy, having a huge number of people going crazy at once. They’re feeling what we’re feeling, and we’re playing off of that. That’s something you don’t always get every time you play a show.”

That comes with a guarantee.

“It will be the biggest party in Columbia this Saturday,” Kemp said. “You can quote me.”

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