Spin Doctors

Spin Doctors

Rene Lopez

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$15.00 - $18.00

This event is 21 and over

$15 in advance; $18 day of show

Spin Doctors
Spin Doctors
You think you know the Spin Doctors. Think again. When the legendary New York quartet released If The River Was Whiskey in 2013 through Ruf Records, casual fans discovered the secret past the hardcore have never forgotten. To the wider world, the Doctors might be the multi-million-selling icons behind hits like Two Princes and Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, not to mention the classic Pocket Full Of Kryptonite. But in 2013, Chris Barron (vocals), Aaron Comess (drums), Eric Schenkman (guitar) and Mark White (bass) reconnected with the flat-broke twenty-somethings who scraped for dollars at the sharp end of the Big Apple blues circuit. The Spin Doctors came full-circle.

“We were four guys in our twenties,” remembers Aaron of early days in the late-’80s, “and our goal was to write our own songs and make a living doing it. The blues is such a big part of our roots, but one of the reasons we came up with such a big catalogue of blues songs back then is that we’d play these downtown blues bars in New York. You were supposed to play blues covers… but we were actually playing our own songs!”

We all know what happened next: the hits, the hysteria, the fame and the money (“When were selling 50,000 records a week,” remembers Chris of the band’s explosion circa 1992, “I’d walk into a mall to buy underwear and 300 kids would surround me!”). If The River Was Whiskey hits rewind. It’s the deep-blues album the Spin Doctors almost made before megastardom came knocking. It finally bottles those near-mythical songs from that sweatbox circuit. It’s simultaneously a tipped hat to the band’s lost past and the freshest record you’ll hear all year. “Every note feels dangerous,” smiles Chris. “It’s just like this ramshackle, broken carriage running down a cobblestone hill, with pots and pans, and a screaming baby…”

The concept to revisit these songs struck as the Spin Doctors toured Europe to toast the 20th anniversary of Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, and polled über-fans David Landsburger and Daniel Heinze on what they’d like to hear as the encore that night. Their answer – So Bad – was a song so old that Chris had almost forgotten the verses, but when the venue exploded, a lightbulb lit over the band’s heads. “We had such a good time playing these tunes,” the singer explains, “that we thought, ‘We should go make a record of this stuff’. It’s really brought us back as a band, musically and interpersonally.”

The songs on If The River Was Whiskey are different vintages. “Some Other Man Instead and the title track, I wrote those lyrics in the last year or two,” explains Chris. “But Sweetest Portion, I wrote that song when I was 19. I’d run away from home, and when I got back, my friends were really upset and there was a rumour going around that I had died. So I wrote that song – and I’m not sure if I’ve ever written a better one since.”

The material might be a quarter-century in the making, but If The River Was Whiskey took just three days to record when the four members convened that summer in New York. The original plan was to get together at Aaron’s His House Studios in Manhattan and work up some demos – no pressure – before heading upstate to a boutique analogue facility and start tracking in earnest. “We didn’t expect to make a record,” smiles Eric. “We were just going to make a demo and play at the Rockwood. And then, lo and behold…”

Instead, without the pressure of the red light, the sessions began to unfold with an effortless magic. “We just kinda winged it, man,”says Mark. This album sounds exactly the same as it does onstage, because we recorded it live, which is the way it should be done. There’s no overdubs. Anybody that tried to do an overdub was gonna get whacked!”

“We really kinda fooled ourselves and tricked ourselves, and I think that’s one of the reasons why it sounds so fresh,” picks up Aaron. “Because there was absolutely no pressure on us of any kind. We just hit a moment. Everything came together and we got this great record. Usually, the best things happen when you’re not trying… and that’s what happened here.”

The band quickly realized the supposed rough-cuts captured by engineering ace Roman Klun couldn’t be topped. “By the third day,” reflects Chris, “we’d recorded all ten of the demos. We went out to dinner that night, we were all having a cocktail, and someone was like, ‘Gentlemen, I believe our demo is a record’. And we all just laughed.”

Take a spin of If The River Was Whiskey and you’d have to agree: they aced it. The Spin Doctors might have given you the soundtrack to the best nights of the ’90s, but with this album, they’ve rediscovered a strand of their musical DNA that melds perfectly with the hits you know and love. “It’s been so refreshing to go back to this material,” says Aaron. “It’s just brought everything that’s good about the band out again. I can honestly say that we’re playing better than ever right now, and I think a lot of that is because of the material on this record: it’s just really opened things up. Some bands, you go and see them 25 years later and they’re up there going through the motions. But to me, we sound better than ever. We sound world-class now, I think.”

“We play about four or five tunes a night from this new album and they all work,” says Eric. “It just feels seamless, like any of the new tunes can sit with any one of the Kryptonite songs. And the band is just playing amazing now. It’s a pleasure to play with people that you’ve been playing with so long… and everybody’s still breathing!”
“I don’t care about album sales, man,” states Chris, honestly. “I just want to keep making a living playing music. We get up onstage and we turn it on, and sing and play our hearts out. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do: just make real music, give people something from my heart.”
Rene Lopez
Rene Lopez
Rene Lopez’s earliest memories are of standing in the wings of so many stages ,while watching his father—renowned salsa musician Rene Lopez, Sr.—perform. Sr. played on all kinds of them – from small cramped club stages in the Bronx, to Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Madison Square Garden. Rene can still recall the club circuit’s heady mix of cigarettes, sweat, and perfume enveloping his senses, and how the music connected the musicians to the audience, and he can still recall wanting to also be onstage.

Rene inherited a rich modern Latin music tradition from his father, but over the past 20 years he has built a legacy on his own terms, blurring lines between funk, hip-hop, rock, jazz, EDM, and pop while, along the way, working with a diverse roster of icons. Today, he embraces a new era of his creativity with his Jam Of The Month Club song series.

“I went back to the studio, locked the door, and got back to what I loved,” the New York-based singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist recalls. “I still feel like a kid, new ideas keep pouring out and I feel like I have an open palette to work with.”

Throughout his career Rene has worked with members of Wilco, Blind Melon, The Meters, Joseph Arthur, Edie Brickell, Mario Caldato Jr and so many more. He’s garnered acclaim from such publications as NPR, Vibe, Magnetic Mag, Joy Of Movement, Earmilk, Pop Shifter, Relix, Pancakes and Whiskey, Paste, Seen It Heard It, Mix Tape Maestro, The Aquarian, and The Washington Post, among countless others.

Rene’s groundbreaking band in the 1990s, The Authority, blazed through the boundaries of hip-hop, Latin, and funk, playing gigs alongside P-Funk, The Meters, and Fishbone, earning accolades from jam band fanatics and hip-hop heads, who used to pack like sardines into The Wetlands and Nightingales to see them.

As a solo artist, he’s released four albums and EPs that defy category, traversing intimate singer songwriter, traditional Latin, soul, funk, and pop rock. He began his career as prodigiously gifted drummer, and was part of the first wave students at the New School jazz program that also included John Popper (Blues Traveler), Eric Schenkman and Aaron Comes (Spin Doctors), along with modern jazz innovators Larry Goldings and Brad Mehldau. During this formative time, he studied with legendary drummer Bernard Purdie (The Beatles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones) who gave Rene his first opportunity to step forward from behind the kit as a singer and songwriter.

At the most basic level, what struck Rene as a kid standing stage side at his father’s shows was how those slinky salsa rhythms made people’s body’s move. That musician to audience relationship was about rhythm. Throughout his musical journey, first through exploring metal drumming, then funk, jazz, and a myriad of Latin styles, that rhythm connection would be central. Rene’s artistry has matured into an aesthetic he’s come to refer to as E.L.S. (Electric Latin Soul).

“New York is a melting pot of cultures and musical sensibilities—Brazilian music, Latin clave rhythms, 1980s electro-funk, and classic soul—and they all meld together in my head. I don’t label it, and I have no fear exploring these as an artist.”

Other disciples of groove compose vamps, but Rene has always been attentive to songcraft, putting that discipline on equal footing with his rhythms. While at the New School, Bernard Purdie conducted a songwriting contest. The winner would have his songs recorded at the famed New York studio The Record Plant. Rene submitted the first songs he ever wrote, and soon found himself making his debut with Bernard Purdie producing. That fateful turn of events changed his life as a musician, shifting his focus to composition and singing, and sending him on a profoundly winding and rewarding musical journey.

All roads led to the Jam of the Month Club. “It’s so gratifying the creativity is so wide open, and every month I get to put a smiles on faces with free music. This is what music should be about,” Rene shares. The first track debuted in September with “Heavy Baby Heavy” an invigorating homage to intelligent women bursting with sleek stanky funk that recalls the electro grooves of 1980s Prince and The Time. Rene has consistently offered a broad array of funky gems since. A recent highlight has been the deep swampy-soul of “Watch Me Turn It Up” recorded in New Orleans and featuring some of the Crescent City’s finest, including George Porter Jr. from The Meters on bass and Ivan Neville on Hammond B-3 organ and piano. Watching those masters perform Rene’s music was a career highlight. “It was so special, it made me feel like my funk was true.” Other spotlight jams are the psych-funk freak out “U Can Bet On Me,” featuring iconic bluesy vocalist Irving Louis Lattin, and a true 1980s feel.

Rene’s father put down his horn many years ago in favor of a steadier living, and to this day Rene remains inspired by his father’s legacy. “My father is so proud of me that I’ve stuck to it. He always says he’s blown away by my creativity. It means so much to me. I’m so excited to share my latest jams with him.”
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.brooklynbowl.com/

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