50 Sticks of Dynamite!

Last night I saw Ian McFadyen’s band, 50 Sticks of Dynamite.  One of the things I love about banjo is that there are as many styles of playing as there are banjoists and certainly Ian and 50 Sticks are no exception.  Ian plays a Deering Crossfire 5-string and their music is mostly high-energy blues/rock fusion.  His playing style combines three finger Scruggs style with strumming/flat picking elements (Ian please correct me if you would describe it differently).  Bottom line is, it works.  The result grabs you by the soul and calls you to get out of your seat and dance, shake, and shout.  And it’s not all about Ian and banjo.  The rest of the musicians are amazing, too.  Whitey Wingland plays sweet, clean guitar and is one of the better blues harp players I have heard. Michael Dominguez is rock solid and creative on bass and Chris Jensen is the exact drummer a band like this needs; he keeps a solid blanket of beat that makes it all work.

So, needless to say, 50 Sticks is a band to see when you have a chance. Though Zoeys did an admirable job trying to get everybody a seat in a sold-out show,  50 Sticks needs a room with dance space and good acoustics and last night the little room at Zoey’s provided neither.  It might have helped if they would invest in smaller tables, sized just to hold drinks instead of the full dining-sized tables they used last night.  Also, perhaps they might work out a system whereby they could move a sold-out show to their bigger room if necessary.  Still, I can understand how the staff at Zoeys might not have imagined that so many fans would come out to the show on such a stormy night, so perhaps props are due to them for making the most of a difficult situation.

3 Responses to “50 Sticks of Dynamite!”

  1. coachim says:

    Thanks for the shout out Boy meets Banjo! This is Ian and I would say your description of both my style and the band are right on!
    I was “raised” on Scruggs style playing, but was also blessed with an amazing teacher in Bill Knopf who fostered my musicianship and interest in rock. Another great moment in my learning was buying the book “Keys to the 5 String Banjo” by Pat Cloud. Changed how I looked at the neck, ways to connect across chords, etc. Besides that, I have been influenced by everything I have ever heard: Led Zeppelin to Soundgarden, Jimi Hendrix to Albert King. Mosh it all up, and you have my style :) Thanks again for coming to the show and hope to see you again in the future!

  2. coachim says:

    As for Zoey’s, we were set to play that room (The Listening Room) and most bands or artists that play Zoey’s are singer/songwriters and fit well in that space. Since it was our first show there, we started off in the smaller room. Neither the venue or the band knew the show would sell out! :) I think Zoey’s did a great job of getting everyone in to see the show and no one had to sit outside in the bar. In the future, they actually have a larger room that we could schedule that would allow for dancing and more people :)

  3. admin says:

    Great point about Zoey’s fitting everyone into the space. It’s too bad they couldn’t have moved you into the big room once they knew the show was sold out. I do see your point that they have to make it work in the spur of the moment and they certainly did that. After hearing you I wasn’t surprised that your show sold out and was even more impressed that so many people showed up on such a stormy night. Props to Zoeys for making it all work. They are a Ventura icon and Ventura is lucky to have a venue where singer/songwriters can perform. Thanks for the dialog. I always want to give credit where credit is due. I took another look at my original review and revised it to reflect my current thoughts.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.