Once a band gets a taste of success, it really can’t change its name. A member of Tea Leaf Green lamented this rock ‘n’ rock fact during an interview.
A Bay Area band called itself the Doobie Brothers as a joke. It was intended to be used for just one show. Founding member Pat Simmons is an outspoken advocate of marijuana but he told me that he thinks the name is stupid.
Sometimes people don’t understand the humor in a name.
Upon reading a headline I had written, a concerned and annoyed publisher asked, “Why is there Widespread Panic at Lake Tahoe?”
Band names, of course, are meant to be attention grabbers. The promoter at The Saint was asked to consider roots rock group Dangermuffin. She liked the name and she booked the band to perform on Friday, May 19. It was fortuitous for Reno music lovers, who are in for a treat.
Dangermuffin is a band with a thoughtful name. Its musical ingredients are like a healthy muffin, organic and tasty. The message in the lyrics is mindful of danger in the world.
“It’s a dire situation that we’re in and the way that we are treating ourselves and then consequently our surroundings and our environment,” said songwriter and lead singer Dan Lotti.
While the songs on Dangermuffin’s sixth album, “Heritage,” sometimes address perils in the world, the music is soothing. Lotti and guitarist Mike Sivilli started the band in 2005 as a duo in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and the sound has a breezy Island flavor. For example, the song “Ol’ Fidel” has a rhythm like waves washing upon a beach.
“I met Mike the guitarist and we basically sort of said ‘F’ it with the day job, we’re just going to play music and we were lucky enough to be in an area where we could play the Charleston bar scene for five six nights a week and get by,” Lotti said. “We had a great time doing that and it afforded us the opportunity to start writing original songs and creating albums.”
Lotti and Sivilli released an album, “Beermuda” in 2007, and a year later added jazz-trained percussionist Steve Sandifer. They began touring the nation in 2010. Dangermuffin recently added a drummer, Markus Helander, a distant relative of Lotti’s who is from Finland, appropriate to the theme of “Heritage,” which deals with mankind’s antediluvian ancestry.
“Perhaps one day we’ll get to a point where we really understand what’s happened here on the planet but I think we’re just putting the pieces together,” Lotti said. “It’s important for us to remain open to the possibilities and I think that that’s a lot of what the music is about.”
Dangermuffin has a paradoxical sound. It feels like world music, yet it’s undeniably Americana. The conscious lyrics and island vibe draw parallels to Bob Marley’s music.
“Americana is an expanding genre,” Lotti said. “I mean you’re really talking about the American experience and you know there’s so many different cultures and such a slew of influences in this country.
“I was really into a lot of folk music growing up — the newer folk artists like Gillian Welch, and my uncles were showing me Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams at a young age.”
Dangermuffin has never played Reno before; however, it was inspired to write a song about “The Loneliest Highway” after it traveled across Northern Nevada.
“We like to call our music roots rock because it really gets to the root of a lot of these (sounds) like the bluegrass traditions and sort of reggae and again Folly Beach and this island breezy vibe.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 19
Where: The Saint, midtown Reno
- Where else: Brewery Arts Center, Carson City, at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 27
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