Release Your Inhibitions and Dance to The Release

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
July 2nd, 2009

As all good stories begin, once upon a time on a Monday night that had the entire town covered in Ice this past winter I slid my way down the hill to take in a riveting night of city council. Interrupting my step step slide rhythm as I made my way down Columbia like a curler, I was interrupted by a phone call from a friend living back in Whistler. He was in Rossland and his new band was playing at the Steamshovel tonight. Was it Brother Twang in town? The band he plays bass in that held a prestigious slot playing at the huge Pemberton music festival last summer, playing a show that included Sam Roberts, Tom Petty and Jay Z? Nope. It was a brand new formation out of the incestuous Whistler music scene: the Release.

“Me and Brendan met about two years ago in Kostaman’s band,” explained Tom Hueckendorff. “He was playing bass and I was playing sax. I was using all sorts of pedals on my saxophone and Brendan was into jam music and he was like, ‘awesome that sax is pretty trippy’. We were into the same mindset musically. We started out playing as a duo and over the last year and a half we got the band together.”

Catching up with the band after a particularly long 11:00pm council dismissal, the boys, in true rock star fashion, were fashionably late hitting the stage. Waiting for the hall to fill before starting to play, the balance had tipped to the point where if they didn’t play soon the room would start emptying. As a new band yet to build a reputation, the Monday night crowd was–not surprisingly–sparse.

Once onstage they eased their way, instrument by instrument, through a long momentum-building jam into the full on mod-funk eclectic sound that is The Release.  The Whistler based four piece made up of Tom Heuckndorff on vocals, Hammond organ, sax and flute, Brendan Ladner on vocals and a seriously funky lead guitar, Greg Currie on drums and Derek Stembridge setting the pace on bass.

In all senses of the word The Release is a jam band through and through. Unafraid of extended solos and improvised breakdowns the tightness of the group is impressive given their short time together. True musicianship shines through in the variations and intricate complexities taking place often four instruments at a time that impress and elicit mid song ovations.

Like a wedge being gently being slid under them and prying them from their seats the first song of the show slowly stopped conversations in the bar, grabbed attention, and  by the apex of the opening ten minute jam the sparse crowd had made its way to the dance floor. The power of the jam band with dance friendly music (exhibited to a T by the Grateful Dead) is alive and well in The Release. Even though they hadn’t heard any of the songs before people quickly were sucked into dancing, bobbing heads and tapping toes like long time fans.

The goggle tanned crowd dancing it up in a ski town bar on a night when the freezing rain switched over to snow mid-set with big snow-globe flakes falling past the windows seemed the perfect setting for The Release. There have been plenty of surf bands through the years and I’d dare to add that The Release is pioneering the ski band sound.

“What we’ve been trying to go for lately is as diverse of a sound as possible,” added Hueckndorff. “We write a lot of rock tunes that are in the more traditional style and then we write a little more innovative funk tunes and stuff. In our improvisations we like to really delve deeper into dance grooves or reggae dub grooves and try to include as many styles as possible.”

Making their second trip back to Rossland on a three stop BC interior tour before heading to Vancouver Island, The Release will be rocking the Shovel this Saturday night, July 4th. With 25 or more original songs written since their last trip to the Golden City, expect some new tunes to keep the dance floor full and bodies shaking all night long.

To hear a sample of The Release’s music check out their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/thereleasejamband.

Categories: Arts and Culture

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