Alignment: Bands respond to planets' vibes

Foundation Stone
at Garden of Sheba
Homemade Bread
at Orbit
Saturday, September 6

Mars is closer to earth than it has been in a long time. I don't believe in a lot of the new age gibberish about stars and planets, because most of the information is as skewed as the front page articles of USA Today.

However, I do recall the mythology of Mars: Mars symbolizes volatility, bellicosity, and radical change­ which seem to be pervasive in the world right now. Coincidence? Hmmm... With all the current (perhaps) Mars-inspired drama surrounding my friends, family, politics, and damn near everything else, I figured the positive vibes of Garden of Sheba would set my mind at ease.

One-drop reggae group Foundation Stone was just beginning their sound check as I arrived. Double-fisting a pair of Jamaican Red Stripes, I joined my comrade in the outdoor seating section. We had barely wet our throats when the first notes of relaxing reggae came pouring out the front door.

Under a canopy of trees, surrounded by a thicket of plants and flowers, we kicked back to the incredibly tight, rhythmic sounds. Foundation Stone won't drop your jaw or leave you awestruck, but what they do, they do well. No one member stands out as carrying the group (although I have seen drummer Johnny Gilmore carry other projects).

That's the formula for a successful reggae sound. To create the true sound of the island groove, each person must feel the pocket between the up and down beat. Foundation Stone did that as well as any group I've heard, while providing an atmosphere to ease whatever stresses ailed me.

During set break, my buddy and I skated on over to the corner to check out what Orbit had to offer. The band was Homemade Bread, and the slogan on the flier read: 'Hornalicious Jam Funk'-­ or something corny like that. Still, I was mildly impressed from what I heard from the door, so we made our way in.

Homemade Bread is, in short, a solid progressive jazz rhythm section, an outstanding tenor sax player, and a mediocre trumpet player. They seemed to be on to something when they combined the swing of jazz with the steady pulse of '70s soul.

However, when the trumpet and bass player began singing, it retarded the whole outfit to nothing more that a jamband with a killer sax soloist. The music would have gone over better with a more appreciative crowd... or maybe if Venus were where Mars is now.