Music

Kick out the jams

Taos Plaza Live rocks out with Last to Know and The Damn Band

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/14/19

The kids are headed back to school, and the promise of fall hangs in the crisp night air like the apricots and tall grass abundant now in the area. The temperatures are cooling …

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Music

Kick out the jams

Taos Plaza Live rocks out with Last to Know and The Damn Band

Posted

The kids are headed back to school, and the promise of fall hangs in the crisp night air like the apricots and tall grass abundant now in the area. The temperatures are cooling down, and daylight is dwindling. Just when you thought the live music scene in Taos was about to fizzle and move indoors, the popular Taos bands Last to Know and The Damn Band heat the stage on the plaza for one of the last free concerts in the Taos Plaza Live free summer music series put on by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce.

It all happens tonight (Aug. 15), so dig out your comfy camp chairs, blankets and a picnic and get ready to groove to the sounds of this smorgasbord of sound from 6-8:30 p.m. It's also Enchanted Circle Night, so watch for special announcements and a booth set up by the chamber.

First up is the "party band of the Southwest," The Damn Band. Its current lineup showcases "the driving rhythms and guitar work" by K Bolan and the soulful vocals of Audra Rodgers. The band focuses on solid R&B and rock as its motivating force, with influences from blues, Latin, reggae and pop.

Following The Damn Band is local jam band artists, Last to Know.

Howie Roemer the keyboard player and de facto spokesman for Last to Know said the concert on the plaza is different from playing in a pub or festival. "Plaza Live is special because it connects us with an audience we don't typically see at our late-night and out-of-town shows. It's such a great community event, a lot of our friends and families will be there, and it puts us in a more relaxed state. At the same time, though, we're eager to do a great job and give newcomers a good sense of what we're all about."

Roemer said people who attend the concert "should come prepared to move, and with an open mind willing to hear original music, with two long improvised jams and maybe a Grateful Dead cover tune or two. They can expect good vibes and positive energy."

According to the band's website, they can be (loosely defined) as "a seven-piece band blending the heartiest world rhythms with jam-band passion, while muddying the lines between Americana roots music, country, disco, funk and bluegrass." What this translates to is a band anyone can find their groove and dance to, because there is something for everyone.

The story of how Last To Know became a band, according to Roemer, is the musicians "came together 20 years ago as just a group of friends getting together to hang out and play music. It's been an evolution ever since with good friends coming and going, but it's very much what we still do: we hang out and play music."

He added the two founding musicians Dan Irion, who plays mandolin and sings, and Scott Barady, our percussion player, "are the only original members."

Roemer continued, delineating the current lineup: "Curt West, our bass player joined two years in. I came on board in 2005. Randy Morris on drums found us around 2011, and Tom Pryor, who plays guitar and pedal steel, started with us in 2015. Our backgrounds are so diverse - we all bring something a little different. Being raised in different parts of the country makes for a nice mix, too: Austin Texas, the Adirondacks, eastern New Mexico, New Jersey, Chicago and Tennessee."

Roemer said the band's name derived from a jam session that went onstage with short notice. He explained, "Legend has it that this group of friends who used to just jam together was booked to play a show without them even knowing about it. When the time came, and they were about to be announced onstage, 'Last to Know' was the best anyone could come up with. That was at the old Herb's Lounge in Arroyo Hondo around the year 2000 or 2001."

For a song to stand the test of time it is all about live performance for Last to Know, according to Roemer. "It's less about the song [than] it is a live performance and an audience's response to it. Songs that get the crowd going keep 'em on their feet, and are the songs we'll continue to put energy into. If a song becomes stale or the audience no longer responds to it, we'll change it up, rework it or put it into hiatus."

The Plaza Live series is a perfect venue to showcase the energy of this dynamic band as there is plenty of room to dance and enjoy one the last nights of summer in community revelry at a historic Taos spot.

Closing night for the Taos Plaza Live series is next Thursday (Aug. 22) with the bands Out of Nowhere and Big Swing Theory.

For more information, visit the Taos County Chamber of Commerce website at taoschamber.com/taos-plaza-live-music-schedule. For more information about the bands, visit lasttoknowmusic.com or their Facebook page; also see The Damn Band's Facebook page.

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