By DJ Dave
Fresh off an incredible pond skimming event, Killington Resort has another big party this weekend combined with an awesome concert. This Saturday, April 21, the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar will be hosting the season pass holder party with a free barbecue from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Right on the snow in front of you will be a big stage for the fourth annual Dazed and Defrosted concert which is free to the public and all ages are welcome. I will be kicking things off at 11:30 a.m and spinning your favorite tunes to ski, ride and dance to. The BRYAC Funk All-Stars from Bridgeport, Conn., hit the stage for a funkin’ good set from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Closing the show will be Madaila, the psych-pop juggernaut from Burlington. I had the pleasure of speaking with Rob Volo and Cyrus Madan from BRYAC and Eric B. Maier from Madaila to see what they have in store.
BRYAC stands for Black Rock Yacht and Athletic Club which is a restaurant in Bridgeport that the band has a residency at every Wednesday night. They’ve been holding that down for five years now. They play two sets for funk night and it’s the place to be. Volo said, “It’s always raging.” If you have not been before, Volo added, “You are missing out one of Connecticut’s finest best kept secrets.” The band can definitely call themselves an “All-Star” band because its made up of members of Deep Banana Blackout and Kung Fu.
The BRYAC Funk All-Stars are: Rob Somerville (sax and vocals, Deep Banana Blackout/ Kung Fu), Cyrus Madan (Hammond organ, Deep Banana Blackout), Rob Volo (trombone and vocals, Deep Banana Blackout), Adrian Tramontano (drums, Kung Fu), Chris DeAngelis (bass and vocals, Kung Fu) and Fuzz Sangiovanni (guitar and vocals, Deep Banana Blackout). This Saturday you can expect a dance party from start to finish with some antics from Sangiovanni, as well. They will all tell you that every night they play is a “Pawty!” Their repertoire consists of deep cuts from jazz, soul, and funk, with a little Latin spice to bring the heat. Speaking of heat, they are the only band I know with their own hot sauce. Madan said, “Some bands have t-shirts and some [have] lighters, but we have our own hot sauce.”
The original premise was to have a funk band with no guitars. Everybody above but Sangiovanni and Volo have been in from day one. Jesse Gibbon (keys, Elle King/Schleigho) is also from the beginning, but he is currently out on tour. Volo joined the group a year in and Sangiovanni is a special guest from time to time. Speaking of guests, they regularly have some monster players from the music business join them like Rob Compa (guitarist, Dopapod) and Eric Kalb (drums, DBB/Greyboy All-Stars). They’ve also had members of Jazz is Dead and Turkuaz sit in.
Volo said the reason for the band was that they have all known each other for so long, and that it’s such a fun thing for them to do. Madan said, “I completely blame Somerville for this one. He was looking for work and one of our friends, Dave Chard, just opened this bar with some other friends. I’m pretty sure he was working the angle that he would come in and be a guest bartender one night a week. Dave had other ideas and said there are some really good musicians that live around here, so why don’t you put together a weekly music thing and that’s pretty much how this came about.”
Madan said the first few gigs they had two keyboards with no guitar which they liked and it kind of blossomed from there. Madan said, “Over the past couple of years, it’s basically been a rotating chair of some really incredible musicians. Funk Night has become a staple of Fairfield Avenue.” They have started to branch out a little bit and have gone to Thunder Road in Somerville, Mass., the Electric Haze in Worcester, Mass. and up to Albany, N.Y. This will be the band’s first time in Killington but all the members have played here a bunch over the years.
Madaila will definitely keep the dance party going. They don’t like to say they play a certain genre of music, but everything they play is upbeat and danceable. They describe themselves as psych-pop music. Maier said, “Some people like to dance to it while some like to veg out, stand there and just look at the intricate parts. That’s kind of the psych part of the pysch-pop.”
Madaila is made up of: Mark Daly (guitar/vocals/primary songwriter), Maier (keyboard and vocals), Walker Allen (guitar/keyboard), Jer Coons (bass and vocals) and Dan Ryan (drums). They are all born and raised in Vermont and call Burlington home.
The band formed in 2014, but Maier and Daly have been playing together since high school. This is their third long-term project together stemming from 2003. Four of them are from Addison County and went to school in Middlebury, and Ryan is from the Northeast Kingdom. “Born and raised in Vermont is something we’re all pretty proud of,” said Maier.
Daly has the best ear for production and arrangements. Daly, Maier and Coons are the three main singers who’ve been singing together for a long time and have a natural good mix of voices. Maier said, “For the most part, it’s a three part harmony in that rock/pop tradition. It’s pretty fun to sing.”
Daly had the idea for Madaila. He brought some new music to Maier and Coons at their recording studio in Burlington. Maier wasn’t planning on another band, but after hearing the demos, everyone fell for them. They started working on some of the music at the studio and Maier was interested in the business side of things, so he took over that front. He said, “Basically we’ve been growing it together equally with him writing the tunes and leading on the art side and I’m leading on the business side.”
They knew of Dan Ryan from the Burlington music scene, as he is one of the best drummers around. Maier said, “We were a little intimidated by him. He’s been a nasty player since he was 12.” Walker is the newest member and Maier knew him growing up and had played with him in the past. He said, “He’s a pretty funny guy. With everyone, it’s definitely a small world type of thing. There’s all these connections both personal and musical and professional, which is cool and very Vermont, I would say.”
The band has progressed quite well over the short time they’ve been together. They just got back from playing the U.S. Open in Colorado, which Maier said was amazing. “Being flown in to do something that you used to do in your basement is pretty cool. We had VIP passes to watch the snowboarding event. The whole place is like an adult playground with treats galore,” Maier said. They played in downtown Vail, opening up for Børns and playing to about 4,500 people. Their alter-ego band, The Medallions, played an after party at Shakedown Bar and someone from Ween sat in with them. Madaila categorically denies that they are connected to the Medallions but they do admit that the five members of the Medallions look a whole, whole lot like their five members – like a lot, lot. You have to check out the “VH1 Behind the Music s—the Medallions” which can be found on Madaila’s website.
Maier said that he and Daly both have a common goal for the band that is not just the music part. He said, “Anything we put out into the world, we want to be a good representative of us. We want it to have some kind of magic to it that’s beyond just the music. I think we both have a pretty strong eye for how we represent the band. That’s a lot in the stuff we do and focusing on our stage presence or what we wear – our branding, as some would call it. We know who we are and that we’re weird and we believe that’s what makes us unique.” People have responded well to it so they’re just trying to proceed patiently and not be over ambitious.
Besides the good music, many people talk about their outfits. Daly is the designer for those and is currently working on some new ones that none of the band has seen and they may be revealed here in Killington. Maier said, “I trust him, I just hope it doesn’t suck since ultimately, I have to wear that.” Maier said that fits in with them making it a show. They liken it to the Flaming Lips or Arcade Fire, whom they’ve always respected for always doing it up right. They’re both theatrical influences for Madaila. “There’s something about them that is captivating,” said Maier. “We try and pull people into the magic around it.”
The band has two records to its credit: “The Dance,” which came out in March 2015, and “Traces,” which came out in November 2016. They also have a bunch of new music that they’re trying to figure out how to release, whether in singles or a full album. They also have some old tunes that they’re breaking out and playing in new ways. Maier said, “I think that’s one of the things that is unique about us. We’re playing pop music but recording these songs a different way every time. We’re not afraid to jam out a pop song for 10 minutes because it feels good. In the past, I’ve been in bands that can’t do that because ‘we’re not a jam band or an Indie rock band.’ … We don’t have that preconceived notion of what kind of band we’re supposed to be. We have a pretty open mind and can go on our own path and do it our own way as long as we feel compelled by the result.” They’ve been compared to the Talking Heads and Prince for their overall band sound, because it’s very upbeat and “poppy,” but the individual players all have a unique musicianship that is very cool.
Maier talked about playing live and said, “I love that you’re making something that always has that uncertainty that you could mess it up or you’re trying something new that you’re uncertain of. I like that we’re going down this path together. I like that every show is different and there’s always a chance to improve or go in a different direction.”