By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
I always look forward to the Long Trail Century Ride after party because I get to DJ alongside some really great bands. This Saturday, June 23 at the Long Trail Brewery is no different. The two greats are the Steal Your Peach Band, which is a Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers tribute band, and Duppy Conquerors (DC), playing Bob Marley covers. The party goes 11 a.m.-6 p.m., unless you’re riding and that fun starts at 7 a.m. The truly great part is this all benefits Vermont Adaptive. Bring the kids because there is something for everyone.
I’ve seen Steal Your Peach Band (SYPB) before and being a big fan of the Dead and Allman Bros, I enjoy them and they cover them both well. I’ve been a Bob fan since I was little so I’m really looking forward to seeing this band. I got to speak with both bands to learn a little more about them. I spoke with “Rev” Tor Krautter who started SYPB and does guitar/vocals and also spoke with Jeff Robinson who runs the DC and does saxophone, keyboards and percussion or, as they like to say, he’s the multi-instrumentalist, muse, minister and motivator.
If you want to know what SYPB is all about, Krautter says the name says it all. He added, “We like to interweave the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers experience. Both bands had the exact same lineup: two drummers, two guitar players, keyboards and bass so it makes it easy to jump between the two. We like to explore the jams and see how they can interweave with each other. It’s very improvisational as both bands were as well.” He said one of the transitions they like to do is taking “Jessica” by the Allman Bros and going into “Going Down the Road, Feeling Bad.”
Krautter had the vision for the band years before they actually started. He was so sure of it that he bought the dot com, Steal Your Peach, a while ago. He did some shows in the past as one-offs, but up until two years ago, he didn’t have the right lineup to go forward with it. He said, “It just kind of fell into place. We did it a couple of times and realized we had something special and decided to make it our focus.” That was two years ago and they’ve shined since.
Besides Krautter who also fronts the Rev Tor Band and started Last Waltz Live, there is Dan Teichert (Arlo Guthrie & Xavier) on drums and vocals; Andrew Costa (Rev Tor, Last Waltz Live) on keys; Jeremy Walz (Soul Sky) on guitar and vocals; Andy Crawford (Rev Tor, Last Waltz Live) on drums; and Brian O’Connell (Uncle Sammy, Gordon Stone Band) on bass. Members of SYPB have shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Little Feat, The Jerry Garcia Band, as well as members of The Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, Phish, and moe.
Krautter (49) grew up a big Deadhead. He discovered the Allman Bros a little later, but they were both huge influences on him. He said, “I’m starting to realize that Duane Allman and Dickie Betts had a bigger influence on me than I realized, now that I’m playing their music.” He has no favorites from either band, but really likes the longer exploratory jams. He said, “I love doing ‘Elizabeth Reed’ or ‘Mountain Jam’ and we do some cool stuff with the Dead tunes as well. That’s really where I find my fulfillment in it. Even though we’re playing other people’s music, that’s where we get to put our own thing into it and then it becomes artistically fulfilling for us.”
The current SYPB tour will have them all over New England and New York. If you happen to miss this show, you can see them close by Labor Day weekend in Lake George, N.Y. at the Adirondack Independence Music Fest. Krautter loves what he does and said, “I’ve always played music that has meaning for me and moves me in some way. Either that’s something I’ve written myself or somebody else’s music. I’ve never been afraid to play cover tunes. I just try and play the stuff I can feel and hopefully people can feel as well. That’s the approach I’ve always taken and that’s what has led me to doing the Last Waltz and in this case the SYPB. It’s a little bit more of a narrow focus, but it’s the same idea. We’re playing something that means something to us and I hope it translates that way when we play in front of people and they can absorb it. That’s the goal.”
Joining Robinson in the Duppy Conquerors are lead vocalist Greg Roy who is also a poet, conductor, father and activist; background vocalist and rhythm guitarist John DeCarlo who is also a warrior, regulator, enthusiast and saint; lead and background vocalist and drummer Sarah Mendelsohn who is also a multi-instrumentalist, designer, mother and leader; background vocalist and keyboardist Carol Namkoong who is also a visionary, director, organizer and healer; lead guitarist Jonas Kahn who is also a teacher, father, intellect and pilot; bassist Mark Ferranti who is also a Hall-of-Famer, public speaker, scientist and mystic; trumpet and percussionist Dave Szebeda who is also a multi-instrumentalist, manager, historian and shepherd; and trombone and percussionist Clayton DeWalt who is also a chancellor, saint, traditionalist and counselor.
Named after Bob Marley’s hit song entitled “Duppy Conqueror,” the band’s name means “Killer of Bad Spirits.” And that they are. The Duppy Conquerors will lively up yourself, jammin’ Bob Marley’s music. The band has been around for about 10 years and they hail from the Boston area. They consider themselves a Somerville, Mass. band because they play every Monday night at Sally O’Briens. I would not think I would see a reggae band at an Irish Bar, so that’s pretty cool. Go to the website and you’ll read numerous reviews praising how great this band is.
Robinson said they all obviously love Bob Marley’s music, but they have evolved over the years. They’re still really strict about how the songs were performed and written, but he said their personalities have kind of seeped in, just from playing the songs regularly since they play every week. Robinson said, “They’re his songs; you can’t make his songs your own. I think you can just continue to play his songs, but put your personalities into them. His songs are his songs and they’re really great songs.”
Robinson got into Marley’s music in his 20s and played with a lot of reggae greats around that time in Boston like Mikey Dread and Sugar Minott. He also used to play at the Reggae Sunsplash music festival back in the day. Robinson said, “Quite a few people in the band are quite accomplished reggae musicians. The bass player Mark [Ferranti] started Bim Skala Bim. We’re a group of musicians who love this music.”
Robinson has a couple of favorite tunes in “Pimpers Paradise” and “Could You Be Loved.” He said, “He has a lot of great songs. Some of his not so popular ones and his early ska ones I like. Some of them we haven’t learned yet, but we plan on getting to. We want to learn as many as possible. I love so many of them. You don’t start a Bob Marley tribute if you don’t like his music. You don’t volunteer to do it [laughing]. It’s one of those things that if you’re going to be in that band, you better like the music.”
I imagine after 10 years of playing it, that’s the easy part. Robinson added, “We’ve been playing this music so long that we really know these songs and we know that people love these songs. We hope they come and enjoy our collective jammin’. It’s a blessing to be a musician. I feel fortunate to be doing this and I do my best under the circumstances. I hope on the other end of it, people like it.”
Featured photo courtesy of Dave Hoffenberg