EXCLUSIVE: Kung Fu’s Hammond Wizard Beau Sasser Talks moe., Grateful Dead, & More

first_imgFresh off a West Coast tour with Kung Fu, keyboardist Beau Sasser took some time during break to sit down with Live For Live Music. During our conversation, Sasser talked about his past and his future, which includes joining moe. for their comeback show. A wizard on the Hammond, Sasser is involved with several projects, including Kung Fu, The Z3, and Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan. Read on to learn more about this funk-filled, down-and-dirty, soul-rocking keyboardist that tickles the fancy out of the ivories.American Beauty To Host Phish NYE Late-Nights With Particle, The Werks, Nth Power, Kung Fu & MoreLive For Live Music: Let’s go back to your younger days. Who are some of your earliest influences? How did your involvement with the keys begin?Beau Sasser: My earliest influence was my grandmother. She played piano. She was from Memphis, Tennessee, and she would play classical as well as some ragtime, stride piano, and lots of gospel songs. It was the first time I had heard someone play piano when I was a little kid. I was pretty impressed and wanted to learn. I had some other family members that played piano as well. My dad played guitar growing up. He only knew a handful of chords but would play a lot of Cat Stevens tunes and other artists from the 60’s plus some folk songs as well. He grew up on a farm in Tennessee and had an interesting picking style. I thought it was pretty neat and wanted to learn music.Musically, I’ve been influenced by a handful of different types of artists. Early on, as a kid studying classical music, I was influenced by Bach and Beethoven. From there, I started to study and learn about other types of music. Pop music led me to discover jazz and the heavy-hitters like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Through jazz, I discovered organ players who were playing the Hammond organ—guys like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff. As a Hammond organ player, I was really influenced by them. Piano players in the jazz idiom include guys like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett.In high school, I discovered Frank Zappa and that kind of changed everything for me. I learned what it takes to really be a musician and hone a craft in through his band. Growing up, I played lots of different types of music, with my teachers having me read music as well as playing classical. I also played the trombone in the middle school band, and they taught us kind of how to improvise. I was figuring all of that out during middle school and high school.L4LM: You’ve been involved in a lot of different musical projects over the years. What’s the most interesting story behind any of these projects?BS: Right now, my main projects are Kung Fu and The Z3—a Frank Zappa tribute band—as well as Beau Sasser Escape Plan, which is my own band. I get to play in many of these projects with people that I met over twenty years ago and a lot of people I’ve played with consistently since then.I met Tim [Palmieri] and Adrian [Tramontano] when they were in Psychedelic Breakfast, while I played with a band called Uncle Sammy, and we had the same booking agent. We were all kids, maybe around twenty years old. When all of us in Uncle Sammy first saw Adrian and Tim play, we thought, “Crap, there’s our competition right there.” I remember standing there watching them soundcheck and thinking, “Those are pretty special cats.” I obviously loved to play with them as much as possible. Now, I feel as if it’s come full circle twenty years later because we get to play together every night.INTERVIEW: Getting To Know Kung Fu’s Powerhouse Drummer Adrian TramontanoL4LM: When you were invited to join Kung Fu back in 2015, there was a little bit of controversy surrounding the “changing of the keyboardist guard,” if you will. Were you concerned with how fans may react to you joining the band at that time?BS: No, I would have to say that I really wasn’t concerned—partly because I felt like I was on the outside looking into a situation that I didn’t know too much about. My only concern was to learn all the material in the two weeks that I had to learn it. I didn’t really think about anything else other than getting the music ready and being able to perform it.L4LM: On a lighter note, Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan did a video in honor of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary for a project known as Songs of the Dead. The group performed “New Speedway Boogie” .Did you get to check out any of the Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago, and what has the The Grateful Dead meant in your life, musically?BS: First off, I will say that I did not get to go to any of the shows. I would have liked to because we were there. Kung Fu was playing in Chicago performing as part of the after shows. I did not get to see The Grateful Dead when they came through. I’ve actually never seen The Grateful Dead, though I would have enjoyed it, for sure.To be perfectly honest, I really just discovered them in the last four or five years. Growing up, I always liked their music and had plenty of friends that listened to them, but I never really latched on. I never really “got it.” Then a couple of years ago, I ended up on a show playing in the John Kadlecik Band. They needed a keyboard player, and John had sent me a list of Jerry Garcia Band songs that contained the Hammond organ. That was really the first time that I had to learn those songs and get familiar with them, even though I had heard them for years.I really enjoyed it, and it changed my outlook on what that music was and how interesting it can really be. I did a few shows with John, and some of those songs I still play on my own gigs today. Any chance I can get to see Melvin Seals play, I always stand there and watch and learn.[Video: JamBase]L4LM: Kung Fu will be opening up for moe. in February for their return show coming off hiatus. What are your thoughts on that, since it’s pretty huge since their fans are really looking forward to seeing Rob Derhak get back on stage?Beau Sasser: Yeah, we are looking forward to it, too. Those guys in moe. have always been so incredibly supportive and kind—not only to Kung Fu but also Uncle Sammy and other bands that I’ve been in. We played moe.down this past summer. Out of the many festivals we played, moe.down was definitely one of the most memorable, if not the most. Our show there was awesome. It truly was magical. We played in a tent on one of the second stages, and there was this huge kind of fieldhouse-type of vibe in the there with a lot of people. Everyone goes crazy at those moe.down festivals too, so it was a rowdy crowd and was packed to the gills.moe.’s Rob Derhak Is Officially Cancer Freemoe. asked us to sit in later that night for their set. We sat in—myself, Tim and Rob [Somerville]—on “San Ber’dino,” which is a Frank Zappa tune that we all love very much. It made it even more special to play at that event and hang out with those guys. Vinnie [Amico] has played with Z3. Like I said, they’re so supportive, just awesome to hang out with, and incredible musicians, too.We were very sad to see that happen to Rob, but at the same time, we are so excited that we get to do this at The Capitol Theatre for moe.’s comeback. It’s going to be a very special night. We look forward to seeing those guys and spending time with them. Of course, we have a lot of similar fans. Our fan base has a lot of moe. fans that also like Kung Fu. If you like guitar rock, you’re going to like moe. and you’re going to like Kung Fu. It always makes for a good time. I hope we get to join in during the moe. set. That would be a lot of fun.L4LM: Do you have anything on deck for the new year with Kung Fu? What is in the works for your projects?Beau Sasser: Kung Fu just got off of tour. I’ve been home for about a week. We did a run in Colorado, New Mexico, and the West Coast with The New Mastersounds. That was a great tour. It was a lot of fun. Those guys are incredible musicians and great friends, really. We worked really hard.We’ve been off for about a week and will have another week off or so and then in December, we will gear back up again. We will be in Greenfield, Massachusetts, which will be my hometown show, on December 2nd at The Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, and then, we play Boston a few weekends after.That’s followed by our annual Toys for Tots show on December 16th at Toads Place in New Haven, Connecticut. As always, we collect toys for the underprivileged children around Christmas time. People bring toys that are collected in boxes and we then bring them to hospitals the next day. As always, it’s a really neat experience that we enjoy. It’s a big deal for us.For the Toys for Tots show, it’s going to be with Pink Talking Fish, and we are going to do the Prince and Bowie set—Pink Talking Fu Plays David Bowie And Prince—that we did at the Wanee and Catskill Chill festivals this year. It’s a really awesome set that we’ve honed. We are uniquely trained and highly qualified to play it at this point. We’ve had some experience, especially at the Wanee Festival, which was really awesome. It was the closing performance of that fest. I’ve heard that there were ten-thousand people in attendance. It was definitely one of the biggest crowds I’ve played in front of and it was amazing. One of the highlights for Kung Fu for this year, for sure.L4LM: Is there anyone that you would love to perform with but have not yet had the chance?BS: I have had the pleasure of performing with a lot of artists that I never thought that I would. I grew up being heavily influenced by Medeski, Martin and Wood. I didn’t mention John [Medeski] earlier when I talked about influences, but he was one of the organ players that definitely changed everything for me. I was a 15-year-old kid when I first saw him play.I’ve met those guys a couple of times and hung out with them as well, but I’ve never actually jammed or been on stage with any of them—I think that would be a lot of fun. Maybe it will happen, but I don’t know. Even today, I still listen to them all the time. Between them and Soulive, those are two of my biggest influences as far as Hammond organ music goes and bands I got to see when I was in high school and in my twenties. It’s pretty amazing to me because I’ve played in Alan Evans Trio and Playonbrother.Alan [Evans] and I have done a lot of work together. It’s been very special to me to hang around Al and to learn from him, as well as to hang around Soulive and watch them soundcheck and get to know Neal [Evans]. When I was twenty years old, Neal was one of my biggest influences, and still is. As far as playing the organ and left-handed bass lines, which I do quite a bit of, all that music is pretty heavily influenced by Neal. To circle back around to your question, Medeski, Martin and Wood was in that same era of my life for listening to music. It would be pretty fun to jam with those guys.L4LM: To wrap this up, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?BS: Stay cool. Stay in school. Listen to Kung Fu.To learn more about Beau Sasser’s many projects, including tour dates, please head over to the websites for Kung Fu, The Z3, and Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan. Also, make sure to catch Kung Fu in New York City for New Year’s Eve, when they’ll be playing a very special post-Phish afterparty at American Beauty on 12/31 (technically, early morning 1/1) from 1 am to past 4 am! You can grab tickets for Kung Fu’s New Year’s Eve throwdown here! [Words: Sarah Bourque; Cover Photo: Sonsini Media]last_img read more

All Set for 2019 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon

first_imgRace Consultant, Bukola Olopade of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon said he was proud of the numerous gains from the Lagos race so far. He was however quick to add that he and his team would not rest on their oars.He said, “ Sports is a veritable tool for empowerment. We’ve employed over 2,000 people each year and engaged vendors. The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has changed the lifestyle of so many people; for instance, we now have more running clubs, which is one of the main purposes of the marathon, amongst other things.”President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, said he is expecting better performances from the elite athletes in the race tomorrow.“I am a happy person because this is happening in Nigeria under the supervision of the AFN. This Marathon is putting Nigeria on the map,” he said.The winner of the men and women’s marathon will get $50,000 each while 2nd and 3rd place will get $40,000 and $30,000 respectively. The Nigerian winners will get N3 million each while 2nd and 3rd place will get N2 million and N1 million respectively.Winners of the 10km race will each get a brand new car from Kia Motors, while the 2nd and 3rd place winners will get N1 million and N750,000 respectively.In the Wheelchair category, the top finishers will get N1million while 2nd and 3rd positions will get N750,000 and N500,000 respectively.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram All is set for the 4th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which will be taking place today.A press conference was held yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, to reiterate the plans in place to make the 2019 marathon better than all the previous editions.At the well-attended event, the various title sponsors reaffirmed their commitment towards the success of IAAF Bronze label race adding that they are willing to do more to ensure that the race gets even more recognition.last_img read more

Pace serves as 2nd scoring option

first_imgIn a game about as attractive as his jump shot, Josh Pace provided Syracuse a much-needed second scorer in SU’s 49-46 win over Pittsburgh.Pace repeatedly backed down Pittsburgh’s smaller point guard Carl Krauser, spinning and twisting while lofting his awkward-looking floater. Pace buried 6 of 13 field goal attempts, scoring 11 points and providing Hakim Warrick an outlet from ever-present double-teams‘Josh was great,’ Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘He’s a hard-nosed guy and he’s tough. He got those shots, the loose balls, those were all key. He’s a hard-nosed guy, he plays tough, and this is a good type of game for him.’Pace’s furious footwork and quick hands on defense helped prevent Pittsburgh from easy access to the interior of Syracuse’s zone. Pace picked up three steals as Pittsburgh eventually stopped slashing to the hoop on his side. Pace also helped prevent Pittsburgh from dominating on the boards by grabbing five rebounds from the top of SU’s 2-3 zone.‘I was just trying to be more aggressive and look for my shots,’ Pace said. ‘I’ve been trying to do that the last couple games.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPace knows he needs to score. In SU’s five Big East losses, he has failed to score in double figures and has averaged seven points. His newfound concentration on offense has helped.The 13 shots were a season high and took some scoring pressure off point guard Gerry McNamara, who has been saddled with both scoring and offensive set-up duties during Billy Edelin’s absence.Pace made 7 of 11 shots in SU’s last game against Villanova, netting 14 points and tallied nine points in the previous game against Georgetown.‘Josh had a fantastic game,’ McNamara said. ‘He made all the big shots when he had to.’On the reboundCraig Forth pored anxiously over the numbers before nodding his approval.‘Yeah, that’s OK,’ Forth said, after seeing that Syracuse had been outrebounded by seven against Pitt.Normally that statistic would send Forth into a series of head-shakes and a sullen announcement that he needed to improve his play, but after a hard-fought game against the No. 3 Panthers, it left a feeling of satisfaction.During the previous meeting, a 66-45 Pittsburgh win, the Panthers outrebounded Syracuse by 14. Pittsburgh’s damage on the glass was limited by a combined effort. While no Syracuse player grabbed double-digit boards, all eight players who played picked up at least one. Five Orangemen – Warrick, Forth, Pace, Jeremy McNeil and Terrence Roberts – had at least four rebounds.‘We knew we could play just as physical as them,’ Roberts said. ‘We have big guys. If they put their hands on you, you put your hands on them. If they push you, you push them. We all got out there, myself, Craig, Hakim….’As Roberts listed names, Forth walked by, still pleased with the effort.‘Josh, Jeremy, Demetris (Nichols),’ Forth continued. ‘It was a total team effort.’Crowd pleaserTerrence Roberts must have had a pretty impressive high school basketball career.Because when the freshman found himself on the floor at the end of SU’s biggest game this season, he wasn’t fazed at all. Seems St. Anthony’s High in Jersey City, N.J., had a pretty intense road schedule – enough to match the building that housed the nation’s longest winning streak.‘I like that type of crowd,’ Roberts said. ‘I’m used to situations like that, because that’s how it was in high school. I didn’t really feel any pressure at the end of the game. When you start feeling pressure, that’s when you start making mistakes.’Roberts heeded his own advice, playing 22 solid minutes, a career high, grabbing five rebounds and scoring two points. He also drew a key charge with SU up, 40-38, with 1:32 left in the second half.‘Coach (Jim Boeheim) told me that I was going to get more minutes,’ Roberts said. ‘I’ve been practicing well, coming along, playing different positions.’Boeheim used a big lineup that has seldom been used this season. For much of the game’s stretch, Boeheim teamed the 6-foot-8 Warrick and either the 6-foot-10 McNeil or 7-foot Forth with the 6-foot-9 Roberts.‘If you get bigger, you can rebound better,’ Boeheim said. ‘If they missed their perimeter shots, we knew we’d need to get the rebounds to stay in the game.‘Terrence did a good job today. He’s getting better.’This and thatSyracuse scored 19 points in the first half, its lowest total in a half this season. Syracuse’s lowest before yesterday was 21 against Pitt in their previous matchup. … How much did SU try to slow the game down? It scored just two fast break points, a thunderous dunk by Warrick on a pass from McNamara. … No Pittsburgh player scored in double digits, and Chris Taft and Carl Krauser led the Panthers with nine points each. … Late in the second half, Boeheim yelled at a trainer who was aiding Warrick while Pace shot free throws. His crime? The trainer was putting a bandage on Warrick’s hand in the corner where the 3-point line met the baseline, meaning Warrick would’ve committed a lane violation had Pace shot before Boeheim told Warrick to run past the 3-point arc. Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 29, 2004 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Commentslast_img read more