It was a warm spring evening in Fairfield CT, and thankfully (and finally) NO RAIN! The streets were full of feet and colorful hats (it was Kentucky Derby day.) Dangermuffin was in town and were getting ready to bring it to Fairfield Theater Company on StageOne.
Flash back to a little over a year ago, they jammed out in this same venue while filming a documentary Dreamin’ in a Dream — and the show was so special to them that they released it as a live album in 2018. (I have been following this band for a long time and, sadly, 2018 was the ONE TIME I missed them come through Connecticut).
“We formed twelve years ago! That’s sayin’ something! Here’s to twelve more!” – Dan Lotti
For those that have seen this band before, we know that it is often that they insert into their performances a little unplugged number or two, ‘Accousticmuffin’ they call it. Following the announcement at the start of the year that percussionist and bass player, Steven Sandifer, was moving on from the band, the remaining members took a stronger hold onto this acoustic-concept and went on tour under the name Dangermuffin Acoustic.
Joining founding members Dan Lotti and Mike Sivilli, both on guitar, is Andrew Hendryx on mandolin (formerly of Yarn and who has been known to hop on stage with the band throughout the years) and Johnny Calamari on the upright bass — a “groove specialist” as they call him.
They kicked off their tour as a true “string band” back at the end of March, with a few shows in support of Yonder Mountain String Band, and moved through the southern border from Florida out to the west coast.
They made their way up to the northeast this past Saturday night and as anticipated, this foursome brought forth a magical performance to the fans in this quaint 100-seat theater (#soldoutshow). This is the kind of venue where you will always find a mix of young and old and a blend of family and friends…and on this particular evening, quite a few Dads were out with their young sons, which just simply melts my heart.
Lotti’s voice could be described as raspy-twang and it carries a softness that makes the sound of this band so mellow, yet full of emotion; it is truly one of a kind. The synergy these four guys had on stage was as if they had been playing together for years. The mandolin throughout the entire performance really elevated the experience, and it gave me goosebumps the few times Sivilli and Lotti “dueled” it out mid-jam.
They wooed us with some of their hits (in no particular order) – “Waves,” “Ol’ Fidel,” “Seafoam Tumbles,” “Moonscapes,” “Cicada,” “Slumber,” etc. They also came with a good portfolio of covers, some of which I have grown to anticipate at their shows – “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young and “Crazy” by Seal. One that I hadn’t heard them perform before and was a welcome addition to the evening was “Back on the Train” by Phish.
What I believe may have been the highlight of the whole evening was when Mike dedicated a song to his mother, who was in the house. “I dedicate this to my mother, and Dan is going to sing the crap out of it!” ….and surely enough, Dan did just that. They slowly moved into a gentle rendition of “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, which Andrew just happened to recently and officially release (with Dan on vocals).
For the encore, Mike brought out the “silver fox” (one of his guitars that had been sitting patiently in the back of the stage throughout the show) and they concluded the evening with two unplugged tunes — an original, “The Rising Souls,” and a cover, “One Love” by Bob Marley. We fans were arm in arm singing and swaying along with the band, and everyone left the theater with a gigantic smile on their face.
The lovely thing about an up-and-coming band like this in such a small theater like this is the chance to catch them in person to thank them for a great show on the way out. I got to catch up with Dan for a few, and asked about their documentary. It is still out on the circuit…and they are hoping that it gets picked up very soon! And frankly, so do I! COME ON, NETFLIX!!!
Set I: Walk into the Wind, Waves, Ode To My Heritage, Kindred Sun, Fuego, Ancient Family, Banjo Love, Harvest Moon (Neil Young), Lady of Fire
Set II: Seafoam Tumbles > Going Down the Road > Seafoam Tumbles, Moonscapes, Back on the Train (Phish), Cicada, Ol’ Fidel, Into the Mystic (Van Morrison), Slumber, Crazy (Seal)
ENCORE: The Rising Souls*, One Love (Bob Marley)*