When you name your band ‘Great Spirit’, it can really be the start of big things or a suicidal move. It is a name that inspires visions of a group of brilliant artists who effortlessly set the pace for others to follow. From what I’ve heard of Great Spirit; a grand total of five songs, I’m convinced these guys haven’t set unattainable expectations for themselves. They have the makings of a pioneer band that has started something truly unique that others will want to listen to and borrow from. If I’ve misled you into thinking that Great Spirit was formed after some guitar-wielding hippies went on a lengthy conclave, sorry.
It all happened pretty much on the fly when three guys decided, as they rocked out at a Bluegrass festival, that they would record an album. But Tom Conneely, Will Durkee and Peter Domenici were true to their commitment and emerged with a sparkling new EP after locking themselves in the studio for a few days. ‘Front Porch to Frontier’ provided them with fodder for what they thought would be a handful of shows in California. But this soon grew into a West Coast-wide tour and you can expect the trio to be out on the road for longer after the full album is released somewhere in the middle of January.
All the members of the band hail from Northern California, a vast land of striking contrasts; the rocky, snow-covered peaks of Mt. Whitney and the Mediterranean warmth of its coastline, for instance. It’s therefore little surprise that such diversity is reflected in Great Spirit’s music. One publication described the effect of the band’s debut project this way: “Opens your eyes and ears as to the possibilities of what lays beneath the surface here on a colorful and diverse set of songs…” I didn’t need to go farther than the first song of Front Porch to Frontier to come to the same conclusion.
‘Pow-Wow’ is a clash of folk strains and a restrained version of alt-rock. Rising above the muted cymbals and mumbling box guitar is a plucky banjo and the raspy tenor of a dissatisfied Conneely. He wants out of the status quo, wants an end to the waiting. In the next cut, ‘O.G. Nature Kids’, you can hear the lively drums of a funk composition. The guitars acquire a bit more attitude, but still Domenici’s banjo finds a place to express itself. Great Spirit bring the funk again in ‘Road Less Traveled’ before slowing things down for the closer ‘Danger On The Peaks’ which advises you to quit fence-sitting and take a chance in life. But like in the other songs preceding it, the lyrics send their message through vibrant images. Surely Ben Harper must be among Great Spirit’s army of influences.
Look out for the official launch of Front Porch to Frontier on January 13!
Miami Based, Internationally Known