The Bridge 08/03/10
Old Rock House – St. Louis, MO
Written by: Bradley Darby
On a very hot and sticky Tuesday evening, funky blues-rock band, with some definite soul and jazz influence, The Bridge came through St. Louis to play an intimate show at the Old Rock House. As the Cardinals were getting their balls boxed 18-4 to the Houston Astros and continued to make the legendary Bud Norris look like a hall of fame candidate and earn his seventh win just a few blocks away, some fifty or so folks decided to be funked up by The Bridge at one of the areas best new music spots.
This marked the third time in less than a year that The Bridge had come through STL, with the first being last October 30 opening for Cornmeal at The Duck Room. This was the night that I had first heard this band, and what a long strange trip it’s been over the last four times seeing them. After a last minute stop on their way west in January at Off Broadway supporting local punk country group Fattback, whose vocalist Dave Hagerty was just tragically killed in a car accident last weekend, it was finally time for The Bridge to headline their first show in St. Louis at the ORH. It was a small crowd, but the crowd was definitely feeling the music down in their souls and feet, as you could see on the dance floor.
The Bridge claim Baltimore, Maryland as home and have been playing shows around the Northeast for the past nine years. Their main sound is blues rock, but there are certainly very heavy soul and funk elements mixed in, as well as some good ole roots rock. The band was formed in 2001, and released their first album in 2005 titled, “Cross Street Market”, followed by a self-titled album in 2007 and their most recent release, “Blind Mans Hill” in 2008. The band features vocalist Cris Jacobs, who also plays a mean guitar and writes songs along with Kenny Liner who plays the mandolin, and provides some fantastic beat-boxing and background vocals. Dave Markowitz slaps the bass and also provides vocals, Mike Gambone beats on the drums, Patrick Rainey is on the sax and Mark Brown rounds out this six piece band on the keys and organs.
The strong point of the band is vocalist Cris Jacobs and his unique sound. When I first heard him, I was a little skeptical of his style but upon more listening discovered that he fits with this band like a much needed Tetris piece. It will also throw you for a loop when Kenny Liner puts down the mandolin to beat box, but this isn’t your typical beat-boxing, it actually fits in with their sound. You can see a small demo video here from their show at The Duck Room last October. This band just makes it work. They play off of each other very well and appear to be having the time of their lives at each show. The last time I had the pleasure of seeing them was in June at the Wakarusa Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas. Their set started at 12:30 in the afternoon on day two of the festival. At the start of their set, there were approximately 50-60 people watching them. By the end of their hour long set, well over a hundred people had wandered over and most were moving their feet or hips in a way that most would classify as dancing.
While I have seen this band a few times, I am still not familiar with all of their material. After Tuesday I am now the proud owner of two of their studio albums as well as about six or seven audience recordings snagged from the Live Music Archive. The highlight of the evening, however, was the nearly thirteen minute long version of “Good Rhythm” from their debut album. This would have been the final song of the set before the encore, but based on the ever so odd layout of Old Rock House, the band proclaimed they were just going to play another song or two and call it a night instead of dealing with leaving the stage and coming back out. They then closed the set out with a perfect version of “Flats of the Old Avenue” leaving only Jacobs on guitar and vocals, Rainey on the sax, Markowitz on bass and Liner on mandolin. The last song was something they said would be appearing on their next album, which should be out in early 2011. When they were done the crowd continued to cheer as the informed us they were done and there wouldn’t be another song.
This was the fourth time in less than twelve months I had gotten to see this band, and I can promise when they announce their next date I will not only be in attendance, but I will be near the front with a whiskey in one hand dancing the funk out. Make sure you check this band out, because next time they come around its going to be a show you won’t want to miss, unless Bud Norris is pitching against the Cardinals and you have money on the Astros that is. www.thebridgemusic.com