Dogs In A Pile has Arrived. The Future is NOW! Read, Look and Hear All About It!
Sometimes, you stumble upon a band and you know immediately that in a short time you’re going to be able to say “I saw them when…” If you’re lucky enough to catch Dogs In A Pile, such is surely to be the case. I was fortunate to have been introduced to this amazing quintet in the most intimate of all settings, my own house. Dogs In A Pile were hired sight unseen (note unheard?) to play a private show after their manager promised that they would “vaporize my backyard.” ‘Nuff said. Contract signed (sealed and delivered.)
Dogs In A Pile are an Asbury Park, NJ band who are young, exciting and, quite frankly, cool as the other side of the pillow. Also, like all other Asbury bands, they’re not really from Asbury (who really is?) but mostly reside in Shore towns further south. This is a jam band, make no mistake about it, and let’s cut the bulls*t right now if there are any negative connotations associated with that moniker. Jam bands improvise and listen to each other as they play, revamping their organized structures on the fly and adapting not just to each other but the crowd and its vibe. However, just as obvious as their jam band mettle is the classical training and musical education of these (three of five, actually) Berklee-schooled musicians, their propensity for jazz on display just as much as the other musical influences that inform their style.
Just as the moniker Dogs In a Pile tips its hat to the Grateful Dead, their music drips with subtle but steady references from the influences who shaped their musical lives. On a related topic, let’s recognize the good parenting that made the Grateful Dead, Phish, Frank Zappa and Jaco Pastorius part of the musical DNA that enables them to effortlessly dangle quotes, teases and covers throughout their largely original sets. Dogs’ unique brand of improvisational prowess cut with regular and healthy doses of their classical and jazz training not only keeps your feet and hips in non stop motion but speaks directly to your heart, as well.
Sharing lead guitar and vocal duties are Jimmy Law and Brian Murray, who complement and one-up each other in harmony, but never competition. Jimmy Law,local wunderkind from the Asbury Park music scene, has been playing in front of live crowds for ten of his twenty-one years. Though humble to a fault, he’s got it and plays with the confidence of someone who knows it. Just wait till you see his eyes roll back into his head during a solo. Murray, also twenty-one, is Dogs’ most consistent songwriter and will melt your face just as easily as he’ll double you over with laughter. His on-stage antics belie the fun that is a live Dogs show, and he takes his music seriously, if not himself.
Sam Lucid, bass and vocals, is Dogs’ oldest member at twenty-two and a flat-out beast on the five-string, playing with a distinctive tone to match the fearlessness that explodes out of his Orange bass amp. His bass lines are funk and jazz in turn, exactly what one would expect from a guy who lists Jaco Pastorius among his biggest influences. Joe Babick,drums, is himself a four-year veteran of the Count Basie program for gifted young musicians. Just seventeen years young, he’s a seasoned performer playing live shows since the ripe old age of nine. With energy for days, he sets what is often a frenetic pace on the drum kit, though his subtlety speaks more loudly than his brute force. The rhythm section of Babick and Lucid is a force to be reckoned with.
Jeremy Kaplan, twenty-one, is a Berklee schooled musician (alongside mates Murray and Lucid) on a scholarship from the Piano Man himself. Yeah, you read that right. Trying to avoid hyperbole here but the word “prodigy” comes to mind when thinking of Jeremy tickling the black and whites; his boundless range and classical training really level this quintessential jam band up. Expect the unexpected with Dogs In A Pile-jazzy intros to rock and roll songs within psychedelic frameworks and funky rhythms. They move in and out of genres and structures with an ease that not only illustrates the cohesion of their unit, but creates its own synergy from the roots of their varied influences.
I’ve been really lucky to get to know these guys and their families pretty well over the last couple of months, so much so that to write about their music without reflecting on their character as humans would leave my words incomplete. Every person associated with Dogs is utterly kind and professional; the band, the crew, their families and friends, these are A+ folks. Their most endearing trait is the love they share, evident in every note, shared glance, and silly giggle as they ply their trade. I may not be able to speak knowledgeably of rhythm changes and arpeggios, nor do I know a C from a G, but I know love when I see it, and these dudes make me feel.
Though their sets often include covers of tie-dyed favorites like “Shakedown Street”, “Mr. Charlie”, “Boogie On Reggae Woman”, and “Free”, this past weekend, Dogs In A Pile saw fit to play their first ever all-original show, a three hour and twenty minute marathon at Snipes Farm in Morrisville, PA. Feeding off of the energy of a socially distant but sold-out crowd, Dogs took song after song for a mind-bending journey and their faithful #DogPound was all too happy to go along for the ride.
“The ‘G’ Song”, the opener from that magic all-original show last Saturday 9/19, was written mostly by Sam Lucid with collaboration from Murray, who had this to say: “It’s one of those songs, with the composed part in the middle, that started as an idea that we just worked on for so long, like twelve to eighteen months. It feels so great to finally be playing it live and have people dig it.” We feel you.
Below, watch a video of Dogs’ “The ‘G’ Song” opener from last Friday, filmed in 4K, and scroll down for some photos from the show courtesy of photographer Ron Adelberg. For more pro-shot live videos, head to the band’s website.
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