Volume 92, Issue 32
Friday, October 30, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Zen Tricksters dead on
Photo by Edis Jurcys
By Aaron Wherry
With the demise of the Grateful Dead, many a "Deadhead" has been left with a fair amount of time on their hands. To fill up all this new-found free time, many have been inclined to check out the Zen Tricksters, a band who has stepped in to help fill the gap.
"I got so much enjoyment from the Dead, if we can fill that gap, I think it's a beautiful thing," says Jeff Mattson, guitarist for the Tricksters.
But lofty comparisons aren't always the best thing for any band.
"It's a double-edged sword," Mattson states. "We're compared very favourably and people who like that kind of music tend to really love the band. But the other side of the coin is we get written off by a lot of people for being a cover band, when in fact, while we do play Dead music, we are very involved in doing our own thing."
Doing their own thing led the Tricksters to release their debut CD recently, filled with jam band music, complete with 10 minute tracks and groovy improvisational folk rock.
Following the Grateful Dead tradition, they've also made their live show and touring a primary part of their philosophy.
"Our music is very much about live performance. It's very improvisational with lots of jamming going on," Mattson explains. "Every show is different, we don't play the same set every night. And we tour incessantly too, so we just get better and better at what we do."
This touring not only increased exposure but also helped them experiment with new songs for their upcoming second CD.
"We've been playing our [new stuff] out and experimenting with it for a good long time, with many many performances. They've been worn in," Mattson explains.
Just like the Dead, the Tricksters view a cult following from their fans as vital to their success. For this reason they encourage bootlegs and tape tradings among their fans.
Looking for Deadheads, young and old, as they begin to spread their groove to Canada, Mattson, who bares a resemblance to Jerry Garcia, feels confident they'll be able to find just as many in the great white north, as there are down south.
"The Deadheads have a saying 'we are everywhere.' And they might be a little fewer and farther between in some areas, but if the word gets out, hopefully they'll be there."
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