Spot on: Friendships make the greatest music
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. – Guitarist Danny Mayer’s relocation to Massachusetts doesn’t mean it’s the end for On the Spot Trio.
The band, which formed in Santa Cruz, will play the first night of Snowlive’s after-party, for which the evening’s theme is soul and Stax Records. Moreover, On the Spot Trio’s second album, “Shag” will be released in March.
Both “Shag” and the debut CD, “Straight Out the Garden,” were produced by Soulive’s drummer, Alan Evans, who was so impressed with Mayer he hired him for his new band, the Alan Evans Trio. Taking advantage of a major opportunity, Mayer has moved to Greenfield, Mass. to play with Evans and organist Beau Sasser.
Mayer said his wife and children will join him back East after the school year concludes. An acoustic echo during a phone conversation revealed his apartment is not yet adorned with furniture.
“I definitely got tuned into a great music scene out here,” Mayer said. ‘I am way more involved than I ever could have been in Santa Cruz.”
Mayer is a longtime friend of the former Soulive tour manager. After he met the drummer-engineer, Evans agree to produce the first On the Spot album. Afterward, drummer Jeff Wilson took a trip to South America and Evans agreed to fill in for some shows, one being a lightly attended gig at the Cal Neva two years ago.
“It was the first time I got to play with Danny, and, wow, I really loved listening to him play,” Evans said. “I already had the idea for creating a new band and Beau and I play a lot together, and that was just the nail in the coffin. I just knew that they would get along well. It was one of those lightbulb moments.”
Mayer said he was honored and somewhat confused by Evans’ amazing offer.
“He gets to play with the best guitar players in the world, which I don’t necessarily consider myself one of,” Mayer said. “I like my playing and I am happy with myself most of the time but I know I’m not a John Scofield or a Derrick Trucks or an Eric Krasno (of Soulive).”
Evans is as open and honest in a conversation as he is behind a drum set. He said Mayer’s musicianship is exceptional but that wasn’t the most important factor.
“He’s a great person and, honestly, that’s the first thing,” Evans said. “I know and you know a lot of great musicians. To me, that’s the easy part. Hanging with cats you really get along with, that means more to me than what you can do on your instrument.”
The birthdays of Mayer, Evans and Sasser are just days apart and they are the best of friends.
“There’s definitely something about the chemistry when me and Al and Beau are playing together that is unmatched,” Mayer said. “None of us are musicians who tried to copy other musicians so we all just have our own thing, so that’s our personalities coming through in the music. We all like each other so much those personalities transfer to the music and on stage. I spend half the time at the show laughing because either Al’s saying some of the funniest (stuff) I’ve ever heard or Beau has a funny look on his face.”
Mayer also plays with several of Sasser’s rotating group of musicians in Western Massachusetts. While he said he enjoys the laid-back California lifestyle, living in Massachusetts has pushed him to be more intense with his music. He doesn’t mind the traffic, either.
“I actually enjoy people who honk at you if you are driving under the speed limit in the left lane on the highway,” he said. “There are hard people out here but when they soften up you feel like you’ve earned it.”
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As another summer heads to Lake Tahoe, residents are finding ways to stay busy and one of the more popular activities to gain traction on both shores is pickleball.