Farewell to the funk

Dag Nabbit moves on, seeks to break into Northwest music scene

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2004

If a four-piece funk band can carry a grove in a rain forest, can it make a sound in the music-saturated underbelly of Portland and Seattle? Juneau band Dag Nabbit (Web site), one of the most well-received groups in the downtown bar scene for the last year and a half, is betting "Yes."

Lead singer Adam St. Hilaire is moving to Seattle, bass player Tully Devine is relocating to Portland, and while guitar player Jason Caputo and drummer Dale McFarlin have no plans to leave Juneau, the band is hoping to crack into the Pacific Northwest music scene.

"A few people like Andy Engstrom, a fabulous musician and composer in town, really started encouraging us to look at playing down south," Caputo said. "Eventually we just figured, 'Why not go for it?'"

Dag Nabbit's Juneau farewell is Friday and Saturday, Jan. 23-24, at the Imperial. Both shows run from 9:30 p.m. to closing and are for ages 21 and over.

"(I'm going to) take care of my two beautiful girls, see the sun and get Dag Nabbit gigs in (my) home state of Washington," St. Hilaire said. "And of course, keep my day job."

"I am going find a bass mentor to study under, gain fresh perspectives and get Dag Nabbit gigs in Portland," Devine said.

"(This is) unanimous to support each other's personal growth and still find ways to move forward and share our music," McFarlin said. "We don't feel like we will be able to play Juneau again, though, because we won't be able to afford to fly Tully and Adam up for gigs."

Dag Nabbit played its first show around August 2002. Devine and St. Hilaire played together in Haines in a band called Tully's Tow Truck (so named for a old yellow tow truck that Devine used for odd jobs.) Caputo saw the band in 2001, and a few months later, heard that Devine had moved to Juneau. They decided to start a band, McFarlin signed on, and the trio convinced St. Hilaire to move down from Haines and sing.

"We were surprised how often people, young and old, got into it and shook the booty," St. Hilaire said.

"I got to try out some ideas regarding dynamics and spontaneous composition that I have been thinking about for a while," Caputo said. "Alaskan audiences are the best I have ever played for. They are so fun, and I know and love so many of the people and they send the love right back."

Dag Nabbit quickly became one of the most consistent groups in the downtown scene. Most recently, the group played a five-hour set on New Year's Eve at The Alaskan.

The band has about 16 to 17 original songs, 12 of which are rewritten versions of Tully's Tow Truck songs. They also play about 27 covers, from the Pixies "Where is My Mind?" to "If You Want Me to Stay," originally off Sly & The Family Stone's 1973 "Fresh" album and famously covered by both Eric Benet and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The band will record this weekend's shows at the Imperial, possibly for a future live album.

"We still are planning on putting out an album," St. Hilaire said. "We have many hours of recording, but we keep getting more and more ambitious."

Caputo will continue to play with the Bobb Family Band and is putting together a six-piece band with Robert Cohen on keyboard, Clay Good on drums, Adrian Minne on bass and Doug Bridges on saxophone. Both Caputo and McFarlin are involved in studio work at Skatebottom Sound.

"I'd like to be a part of helping to develop the music scene," McFarlin said. "There are so many talented musicians in Juneau, but it seems many have a hard time finding venues or the support they need to perform."

"The live, original music scene (in Juneau) is on the rise, and I hope it continues to be featured as opposed to DJs," St. Hilaire said.

"With the death of (Peabody's Monster guitarist) Bill Kozlowski a few days ago, Juneau has lost a huge, positive force in general, and specifically to the music scene," Caputo said. "I know the many musicians he influenced will be more determined than ever to carry his energy forward."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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