Island boys: Guano happens softly, easily

The Guano Boys 

at Fellini's No. 9
January 28

The Guano Boys' show at Fellini's No. 9 last Friday night was years in the making– for me at least. I've been a resident of this town for a while, music editor at this paragon of journalistic insight, The Hook, for seemingly even longer, but never in all my hundreds of reviewed or attended shows have I seen the Guano Boys or heard their Appalachia-meets-the-Islands sound (apart from a few MP3s I remember checking out online over two years ago).

Even with its assorted cast of local musical celebrities providing the sirens' song (Spencer Lathrop on drums, Chris Leva on vocals and guitar, etc.), something always occurred to keep me uptown when they were downtown or the reverse, until finally the warmth of Fellini's wood fire drew me from my icy abode to check them out.

From the first bubbling bass line, a warm tropical breeze blew through Fellini's, a mixture of reggae and ska with rock overtones. The group took it easy on the audience's ears for their set, which seems to be how Fellini's runs things– a nice change from the play-loud policy of some of the other Downtown bars with musical acts. Though things started off on a more "pop on the islands" vibe, reggae became the source of the band's inspiration from the first few seconds of their second number's catchy bass line.

Even though sung in his sweet young voice, Leva's accented words and Fellini's acoustic dynamics combined to make the lyrics wholly unintelligible except for a rhyming couplet ending in "relationship / sinking ship" on the fifth song. But the audience didn't seem to mind in the least. His solid melody lines provided the glue holding the tunes together, making pieces that would occasionally tread into the jam territory malleable for those of the pop mentality (guilty as charged).

Some Calypso instrumental stylings emerged by the third number, and the lighthearted feeling that surrounded the group led to at least one couple dancing to the assorted solos of the trombonist, guitarist, and dulcimer player.

Interestingly enough, the next song saw a musical pairing of genres, when reggae met country in the form of meticulously played slide dulcimer– and the result was something that I thought worked surprisingly well, and by the nodding and dancing that was erupting around me, I saw that others agreed.

Guano Boys