If you want to ring in the new year with some good original music, then there are two new bands I suggest you go see. The Clear River Tavern’s New Year’s Eve party will be rocking with Acoustic Ruckus at 9:30 p.m. and the Wobbly Barn might need a new roof after Sonic Malfunktion blows it off starting at 6:30 p.m. Both bands also do some cool and unique cover songs.
Acoustic Ruckus is vocalist Hannah Lafaso, Dan Brown on guitar and vocals, Liam Bonerman Gentry on Trombone and Reagh Greenleaf Jr. on percussion and vocals. Part of that percussion is the djembe and the bodhran, which is an Irish drum. Brown says it all sounds really awesome with the tunes that they play. Lafaso, Brown says, has a great voice and they got a bunch of great tunes for her to sing. She also goes out and mingles with the crowd while the rest of them are jamming out. Their catalog, which is always expanding, includes Jessie J, Four Non Blondes, Adele and Civil Wars but as Brown says, “You might hear a rocking version of ‘Moonlight in Vermont.’ Who knows?”
Brown describes the band as this: “We play acoustic but we definitely rock it out. We get loud and we get crazy, almost as much as a full live electric band would. We didn’t want people to think it’s just an acoustic show because it’s certainly not.” Brown does a lot of looping and soloing which leads to a full band experience. He has years of experience as a solo artist and you can also catch him every Tuesday and Wednesday at the K1 Base Lodge at 2 p.m.
They last played the Clear on Halloween and it went so well that manager Doug Mianulli had to have them back for New Year’s. They really wanted to be back as well because it’s one of their favorite places to play. Brown says, “We just love it and it’s always such a great crowd. It’s hard to explain but it’s super rootsy and super organic to me.
Sonic Malfunktion was the brainchild of Tony Lee Thomas and Jeff Poremski. Thomas met Poremski at Be Music where Poremski is his guitar tech but had no idea he played music. A year or so ago he saw him play bass and thought he was spectacular. Then he saw him play acoustic guitar with Chad Hollister and it blew his mind at how talented he is.
Thomas always wanted to get a bigger band together but finding the elusive bass player was always the issue. Thomas said, “The next time I saw him at Be Music I gushed at him like a super fan (laughing) and told him he was amazing.” The timing then wasn’t right but last July they started writing songs together. They each had some unfinished ones so by working together it really helped to finish them. Before they knew it, they had a slate of good tunes. Poremski says, “It’s been great working with Tony, writing songs together. We both have lots of influences. Most of the new material has an R&B/soul feel to it with room for some nice improvisation at our live shows.”
With the songs out of the way, then they put together their “Wish List” of possible band mates. Thomas says, “I’m really ecstatic about this project because everyone that is playing in this thing is pretty much our first pick on their instrument. The more people you add to a project, the harder it is to get off the ground. We’re really lucky that it all worked out.” The band is Thomas on acoustic guitar and vocals, Poremski on electric guitar and back-up vocals, Krishna Guthrie on drums, Alex Abraham on bass, JD Tolstoi on keyboard and the horn section of Chazz Canney and Gabby Coughenour. Everyone in this band is in at least one other band so there were challenges with everyone’s timing but they have made it work.
Poremski says he’s looking forward to a great season in Killington this winter, the whole band is. Tolstoi says, “I look at Sonic Malfunktion as a sonic lovechild…no birds or bees about it, it just kind of happened. You know the phrase ‘It takes a village’? Well I feel that this group is a whole village, and we are all coming together to raise this funky seven-headed beast of a creature.” Coughenour says, “Sonic Malfunktion is quite the collection of song writers and musicians. Some of us have been playing together since we were kids! It’s really amazing how life can bring it all back around at exactly the right time.”
Thomas loves the group they got together. “Sometimes you see these all star bands that have all this skill and talent but you don’t always have the best attitudes. Sometimes guys at that level can be a little over confident. So that was our thing, we wanted to get people together that don’t have egos with what they do…One of the criteria was how humble could we all be and work together in a creative way. Put our egos aside without anyone trying to take over.” If you don’t make it to New Year’s Eve, they will be playing every Thursday night for Locals Night at the Wobbly Barn starting Jan. 21.