Stiff competition: Tough town for new band

Stoned Stew Jazz Band
at Miller's
Saturday, January 24

They say that being cold is all in your mind. Well, my brain has been cold for going on two weeks now. The fluid between my brain and skull is probably the consistency of a 7-11 Slurpee.

Not only does this make me reluctant to go out; it also makes me quite cross when I have to go beyond insulated walls. So, where else do I wind up on a sub-20 degree evening but Miller's? Must have been the rocket scientist in me. Really.

There I was, sucking on an exhaust pipe while being dragged behind an all terrain vehicle on arctic tundra. Did I mention I was naked? 'Cause if being cold is in the mind-­ that was the image my mind was projecting. Brrrrr.

The front door to Milller's never stays closed long. The second door that could complete the cold-catching foyer was removed a couple of years ago for a stairway. Even though we sit in the middle of the room surrounded by a fresh cloud of cigarette smoke, the chill makes it to us every time.

Stoned Stew made the trek from Richmond to provide a little jazz for the patrons that evening. Snuggled behind the glass partition separating them from the doorway, they seemed immune to the cold. The line-up was composed of stand-up bass, guitar, and drums.

I immediately took note of the drummer's patchwork kit, which seemed like it had been put together by someone colorblind. His style was equally schizophrenic. Borrowing jazz licks from all over the place, he constantly searched for the right pocket throughout the course of the songs.

He and the bassist, however, had a solid rapport when it came to laying down the rhythm. Their foundation was enough for the guitarist to noodle his way through solos-­ every once in a while finding the pocket and hitting a nice run or impressive riff.

The highlight of the performance came when Stoned Stew brought up their vocalist– a sexy woman in her early to mid 30s with a sultry voice that carried every tune she was a part of. She sang in a classic jazz style with a tinge of gospel flavoring. Her presence at the front of the room was the only thing that pulled people's attention away from drinks and conversation.

Stoned Stew have a nice formula, but will never amount to much more than background music in a town used to listening to jazz from the likes Robert Jospé and John D'earth. I'm sure they will make their way around again, but more than likely I won't brave any sort of extreme elements to see them.

Stoned Stew Jazz Band