Halloween at the bars: beats, ghouls, bluegrass and funk

The techno trio Naughty Jo debuts Friday night

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2003

Juneau drummer and composer Andy Engstrom has seen enough audiences in town to believe he knows what makes people dance.

"Unless you play something old and recognizable, most people don't dance," Engstrom said.

"And being a team player in a band, you can't keep the flow of music going. There are people looking down at their set lists and stopping and saying, 'What's the next song?' It's a dance-floor killer. I've always noticed that the dance floor DJs, the people slipping some fat loops, always have the success for getting people out," he said.

Engstrom's latest concept - Naughty Jo - combines pre-recorded beats, grooves, loops and sound effects with his own live drumming, the progressive guitar work of local musician Ward Ward and the trumpet stylings of Jon Hanson. The result: an amalgamation of hard-core industrial techno, science fiction and rock. The response? They'll find out when Naughty Jo plays its first two shows, 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1.

Saxophonist Doug Bridges will join the band for two shows at Marlintini's on Nov. 21-22.

"People get the best of both worlds," said Engstrom, creator of the sci-fi epic "Volitar." "They see some flashy musicianship, they hear some melodies and some crazy sounds, and at the same time, they're getting that nonstop barrage of fat techno grooves hitting them in the face."

"The implicit structure that we play over is always there, and so I'm kind of constrained to what's been written on the backing tracks," Ward said. "But still it's pretty open. It's structural improv. It's contained by the melodies, and it sounds great. It's driven by the rhythm and Andy's an incredible drummer."

The idea for Naughty Jo began early in the summer of 2002, when Engstrom bought a hiphop sound card for his Alesis keyboard. He and a friend, local guitarist George Bryson, took the keyboard to an open mic night at The Alaskan Bar. Engstrom reversed the phase polarity on his keyboard and played single sustained notes and bass grooves while Bryson riffed over the top.

"People went bonkers," Engstrom said. "They attacked the dance floor. And that proved my theory. If you start with the groove, it doesn't matter what you put over the top of it."

• THE ALASKAN: Daralict "a.k.a. Bodybags," a vampire rapper born stillborn and left to fend for himself in the sewers under downtown Juneau (www.daralict.com), will emerge for his first public performance at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at The Alaskan.

Juneau's lone hiphop ghoul, Daralict opens a three-band bill with Peabody's Monster (10-11 p.m.) and Contra Public (11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m.). A costume display will be held from 9:30-10 p.m., and the winner will be announced at 11 p.m.

Daralict has spent most of the last year esconsced in Peabody's studio on South Franklin Street, recording his six-song debut. It's tentatively scheduled for release in mid-November on Juneau's Rock Alaska Records (www.rockalaskarecords.com). The messenger of death has a bare-bones stage show: just a mic and pre-recorded beats from local producer 2-5-p.

"It should be the scariest stuff that Juneau's ever seen," Daralict said. "I wanted to do a lot more, but I can't have people blowing fire like I wanted to. I don't think people know what to expect at one of my shows. If I ever have an outdoorshow, it will be something to check out."

Daralict is a specter of gloom and vengeful redemption. His influences touch on horror-core groups such as Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid as well as metal acts like Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and White Zombie.

"Just anything morbid," Daralict said.

• CENTENNIAL HALL: Juneau's Bobb Family Band played once this summer at a wedding, but otherwise hasn't performed since April's Boardwalk Boogie in Pelican.

The five-piece is back together for a 9 p.m. show Friday, Oct. 31, at Centennial Hall with Juneau's Sofa Kings. Tickets are $10 at the door. Half the proceeds will go to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. Costumes aren't required; the show is 21 and over. Beer and wine will be served.

"It's great to have everybody back in town," said Bobb member Riley Woodford. Bobb member Jane Roodenburg "had this idea to do a Halloween dance. This was an opportunity to do a costume party and dance where there's no smoke. That was the deciding factor. There's no smoke at Centennial. It's a chance to go out and hear some music."

Bobb member Jay Caputo will play Friday night with Dag Nabbit. Sofa King Eric Holle will sit in with the Bobbs on mandolin. Bob Banghart, a Bobb and Sofa King, will be playing a brand-new fiddle.

"Just (Monday night) it was great to hear this beautiful new instrument at rehearsal," Woodford said. "He's going to try it out this weekend. It's sort of a baptism by fire."

• MARLINTINI'S: Local band Dag Nabbit will play two shows at Marlintini's, 9-11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, and 9 p.m.-12 a.m. Friday, Oct. 31, before departing for the Sitka Halloween Stardust Ball, held Saturday, Nov. 1.

The four-piece plans to take pictures for its album cover and its new Web site, www.dagnabbit.org. Marlintini's will host a $600 costume contest on Friday night.

Dag Nabbit is mulling over the idea of recording a live album and also hopes to release a studio album next summer.

"We've written the whole thing," guitarist Jay Caputo said. "We've been slogging around in my basement. It's a somewhat ambitious idea with extended segues and hidden songs."

• THE IMPERIAL: Anchorage-based bluegrass band Silver Creek will hold down the Imperial for two shows, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The quartet played its first show in Juneau this February at The Alaskan, then had to cancel a May show at the Imperial when its guitarist was hospitalized.

"I'm looking forward to it," guitarist Joe Page said of the Imperial gig. "I'm looking forward to seeing downtown Juneau on Halloween. It's going to be a cultural experience."

Page is joined by banjo player Gary Markley, bassist Nate Williamson and new guitarist Jay Marvin. The group plays mostly traditional tunes - Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe and Flat and Scruggs - with a few originals. Page, Markley and Marvin have been playing together for 25 years around Alaska. Williamson, 27, has been gigging for about five years.

"We haven't played a whole lot of gigs, but we've been keeping busy," Page said.

"We're in several different bands and there tend to be overlapping musicians. It's kind of like jazz in the fact that there's a core group of musicians that play in these bands, and you may not get the same member every time, but everybody knows the tunes," he said.

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

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