Thursday, October 19, 2006
Near the end of the Sly McFly’s All Stars’ Thursday night set, guitarist “Mighty” Mike Schermer scans the crowd from the stage. He looks past a trio of couples that spin all over the dance floor like tops and past groups of folks eying the action from seats and tables.
“There he is,” Schermer says, pointing to a black and white clad bartender in the back of the room. “Jimmy, get up onstage.”
Jimmy walks through the crowd, and when he arrives on the stage, bassist Dennis Murphy hands him his instrument while Schermer takes a break. Then Murphy grabs Schermer’s guitar and starts singing Howlin’ Wolf’s “Shake For Me.”
On the next number, the guys in the group signal that they want the bar’s server, Byron, to join them. With Schermer back onstage playing guitar, Byron lends his fired-up karaoke-style vocals to the band’s cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.”
These casual impromptu numbers reflect the philosophy of the newest incarnation of Sly McFly’s Thursday night house band, the Sly McFly’s All Stars. Formerly featuring one-time Doobie Brother Dale Ockerman and Sista Monica’s drummer David Tucker, the band now consists of a group of rotating players orbiting around Schermer. Tonight’s lineup includes Schermer, Murphy and drummer Gary Machado.
Schermer says the band has a goal more important than being simply a showcase for impressive local musicians. “We always put fun above playing perfect notes,” he says.
Since all the players have other projects—for Schermer, it includes having his own band and also performing with Elvin Bishop—the Sly McFly’s All Star Band is designed to have interchangeable parts. Other regional musicians that play in the group include drummer Dennis Dove and bassist Mike Phillips, who also plays with blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite.
“It’s hard to talk about a band that doesn’t formally exist,” Schermer says. “We just hope people know that Thursdays down here have good music.”
While it may not exist in any formal sense, the trio is able to nail an array of blues and funk numbers by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Muddy Waters. Almost every song includes a powerful guitar solo from Schermer or some funky bass lines courtesy of Murphy.
At the end of the evening, Murphy informs the crowd that the fun is about to end. “Get up and take your clothes off,” he hollers, as the band lays into Tyrone Davis’ “Can I Change My Mind.”
“I would like to start all over again,” Schermer sings, which may just ring true for this group of seasoned players, who are using Thursday nights to cut loose like a bunch of young musicians playing in their parent’s garage.
THE SLY MCFLY’S ALL STARS play Sly McFly’s, 700 Cannery Row in Monterey, this Thursday at 8:30pm. 649-8050.