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.