11th Apr, 2007

Yama Bandit @ Fontanas – Lower East Side, NYC USA 2007 04 05

Jaik Miller and Yama BanditWell the night started off innocently enough….Off to meet Jeff & Whitney at some bar in the East Village & then downtown to hear long time friend & NYC Jam Band original, Jaik Miller & his new band Yama Bandit. I have known Jaik for years & was a big fan of Xanax 25, one of the original bands on the scene back before The Wetlands Preserve was even open. Things sort of got off to weird start as we arrived at this hip, fun & cool Lower East Side nightspot that I had never been to before. Once past the somewhat thug like bouncers and then running right into the women who were promoting this event, Kasey & JoJo, who them selves have been putting on shows for the NYC jam Band scene, ever since there was one. We had 2 spots on the list but showed up with 3 people & luckily were able to work out a kind deal with Jojo & got the 3rd wheel, which in this case was me, in without a problem.

The bar is unique in its eclectic atmosphere & varied music to hang out & listen, shoot pool & boogie to. After walking past the beautiful & well packed crowd I ran into the Gina of Blues Traveler fame, and a dear old friend. Friday was her birthday & she was out to celebrate with what turned out to be a real, high energy crowd. A fun mix of old-schoolers & NYU students and other young people that kept the atmosphere up & festive all night. The front bar area spills into a dance-floor that had a bunch of LES hipsters grooving to the house inspired funky mix that the upstairs DJ was spinning. Right turn, past the tournament sized pool table & down to the dungeon or basement which is where the live performance space is.

If you know Jaiky, then you know what a lovable & warm spirited guy he is, not to mention his obvious talent as a very prolific and enduring singer, songwriter. But if you know Jaik, you also know that he sweats alot & by the time we saw him, the panic had seemed to set in & he was drenched, David Dinkins Stylee. It was 1/2 hour before Yama Bandit’s 12AM time slot & 1 of his band-mates was working diligently to get himself out of an earlier tussle with NYC’s finest. I felt bad for Jaik, he knew that the other guy was gonna make it, the real question was when? The band that was on prior to Yama bandit was great, but the name escapes me at this moment. They had a number of women in the band including the vocals & very talented rock & roll or bluegrass style, violin-fiddle person. They kept playing until all of Yama Bandit was there, and i don’t think that most people realized that Jaik & crew did not go on till about 1 AM, almost 1 hour late.

I think that this was my first time seeing Jaik & this new incarnation of his previous band, Trusty. I am not so Familiar with the songs, but it is Jaik’s raw emotion, energy & passion, as well as the solid groove provided by Marco, and the rest of this super tight jam band that kept me & the rest of the packed house grooving & bumping. By this time, people were a little looser & slightly more intoxicated & I think it all ended up for the best. Not saying at all that the Yama Bandit sounds better when I am lit, just that the extra hour of bar time that people had, made it all the easier for Yama Bandit & Jaik to take the low ceilinged, & very packed room & make it come alive in a rush of kinetic energy as Jaik led the band through a scorching if not slightly abbreviated, up tempo & fell good set of music.

Big ups too for MaryBeth, one of the girls from my Albany Widespread Panic trip, who showed up just in time for Yama Bandit, with her friends Samsung Scott from Jersey & the lovely, friendly & quite engaging, Riva. Nice watch baby! Thanks too for Jenny G.& Senor Patron for helping to make the night a little more magical. Todd J, You rock buddy, sorry about Aspen at New Years, Happy Freaking BDay Gina, & well Eliza….. what can I say?

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