DEREK SHERINIAN AND FRIENDS Live! – at The Grape in Ventura

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is a keyboardist of some renown.  Not necessarily a household name, unless you are in the music industry, but there’s a better than average chance you’ve heard his playing.  Having worked with the likes of Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, and Yngwie Malmsteen, to name just a few, his list of credits reads like a who’s who of n’ roll.  Couple that with his tenures with Dream Theater, and Sons of Apollo, and you have a guy whose fingers have tickled the ivories along side the best of them.  Following the July release of his ninth solo album, , Sherinian and a few friends performed two sets of original music on Monday August 29th at The Grape in Ventura, California.

of his friends to join on stage is Simon Phillips, a long-time collaborator, whose list of musical associations reads even more impressively than Sherinian’s.  Phillips has worked with Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, The Who, Priest, and numerous others, not to mention being the drummer for for two decades.  On this evening, the played their first two shows ever with this lineup.  Rounding out the quartet are Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, and on bass.  Thal, in addition to being Sherinian’s mate is a former member of Guns N’ Roses.  Fierabracci has worked with numerous music legends, such as Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra, need I say more?

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

The Grape is a cozy jazz club on Main Street in Ventura.  The 60 or so people in attendance for the second set were treated to an which could rarely be expected in the beachside town.  Those who braved a 9:15 pm set on a Monday evening, were treated to hearing and seeing four master musicians at work, at never more than 0 feet away, regardless of your seat.  The four friends would an 80 minute set of jazz/ fusion, that was a dream come true for lovers of music.  Sherinian works his keyboard array like a mad scientist, switching between his differing consoles as if tinkering with a formula for reanimating life.  Phillips is a joy to watch as he thumps out the cadence.  Playing with economical precision, there is no extraneous motion in his playing, just pinpoint accuracy.  In the last song of the evening, he plays a rapid- double bass rhythm and there was virtually no movement in his legs.

Those who appreciate playing (and who doesn’t?), would get to watch Thal rhythm and lead from a few feet away as he switches between the two necks of his guitar, fretted, fretless.  I am not sure there is another player in the realm who routinely plays a fretless guitar.  Bass players can sometimes not stand out in a performance.  The trained ear does however have the ability to discern a solid bass performance.  Fierabracci first demonstrates the ability to keep with a master skinsman.  Second, if you tune in, you can hear a  player who isn’t just adding bottom, but is weaving a low-end melody through the songs, which he most certainly does.

Overall, the set is a pleasing mix of composition and virtuoso musicianship.  There is even a three-song interlude in the middle of the performance where Thal gets to have a three-song breather and the remaining three as a jazz trio, with just piano, bass and drums.  So even Thal got to relax and enjoy the show for a bit.  Show reviews do not typically make much mention of the venue.  In this case, there is reason to break that norm.  Visiting a lot of music venues, and having some good and bad experiences, it is safe to say, the staff of The Grape and the owner, Adam, were some of the most gracious and accommodating you might encounter at a music venue.

CLICK HERE to view from show.

The Grape, Ventura, CA

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