The Ripples are continuing to ride the waves made by their debut album The First Few. The DC Folk-Rock outfit brought their 60s-revivalism to the Rock and Roll Hotel on January 31st; and they threw quite the party to bring the first month of 2014 to a close. With opening sets Iman Hariri-Kia, Nebraska and Old Moonlight – who ended their set with a riotous cover of “Roar” that put Perry’s version to shame – the Ripples hit a crowd that was still ready to rock. And rock they did.
The crowd was treated to songs from the debut album as well as a great number of new original and cover songs throughout the hour and a half set. Whether intended or not, the well-chosen covers of the set served as a great juxtaposition to the band’s original songs. For those who may not know the covers (I confess not recognizing the Faces’ “Ohh La La”), some are hard to distinguish from the band’s original materials. The Ripples seek to recreate the sounds of the 60s in their own image, and it is marvelous to see how well they might have fit in as contemporaries to their influences. From “Fiona Gotcha Goin’” to “The Weight” the Ripples evoked those Good Vibrations of golden summers of rock while audience members danced the night away.
The night also served as something of a celebration for the band, as it gave them an opportunity to debut their new guitarist Zach Fore (also of The Joads). This appearance showed Fore to be an irreplaceable element of the band. His slide guitar added sonic textures to the songs that had previously only existed in the studio. While Fore’s soloing was praiseworthy, he also contributed a pure, high voice to the band’s vocal mix. This new, three-part harmony dynamic took some of the Ripples’ songs from “good” to “dynamite outstanding.” The cover of Bob Dylan & the Band’s “I Shall Be Released” served as the pinnacle example of the band’s live potency. This was the show’s climax, as singers and instruments pushed the tune into the stratosphere and activated the gospel-message of the Dylan-penned track.
Lyell Evan Roeder, joining the band on organ, also shares honors in elevating the Ripple’s songs. While he was hard to hear at times–a symptom of having six musicians playing at the same time–he nonetheless offered tasteful melodies and fiery solos to an eager crowd. The organ brought the Spirit into “I Shall Be Released,” and Roeder’s heavy lifting came in on “Nothin’s Right” as well. The Southern Rock flavored song, accentuated with odd time signatures, brought out the best of the band and let Roeder rip it up on his masterful solo.
This all being said, the Ripples should make a couple of adjustments to their show. “Frankie’s Song” in particular lacked in a concert setting. Without the “doo-wop” segments found on the recording the live version sounds a bit anemic. Also, with Roeder taking the piano parts, Heuser stood somewhat awkwardly on the other side of the stage – guys, find something for him to do.
With this new line-up, the Ripples showed the Rock and Roll Hotel their great strengths as a live act. Hopefully the Ripples can continue to make waves in the DC area.
Fiona Gotcha Goin’
Hold On Son
Picasso Gotcha Down
Eight Days A Week (The Beatles cover)
Ohh La La (The Faces cover)
Roll Away (Grateful Dead cover)
Message (Lost In The Sand)
I Shall Be Released (The Band cover)
Something (The Beatles cover)
Woke up once in Mexico
The Weight (The Band cover)
- Photo credit to Abby Reutzel
- Originally published on The Rotation, WGTB Georgetown Radio's music blog, on 02/07/1