The Alfred James Band played in Olde Club at Swarthmore tonight as part of the Chaverim CD release party.  I ended up there sorta by accident (thanks, Nicole!) but was very happy to have done so.  In short, the Alfred James Band calls themselves “cello-driven rock.”  I call them “made of awesome.”  I missed the first part of their set, I’m afraid, but managed to catch the last four songs.  Boy, am I glad I did!

I’m not sure quite what I expected.  I think I had a hazy image of the band, and it included middle-aged guys with nice wooden cellos playing rock of some sort.  In fact, there were wooden guitars but no wooden cellos to be seen.  Actually, the cello (and the didgeridoo!) was made of carbon fiber.  You know, that stuff my Dad’s bike (and the bike wheel he designed that Lance Armstrong still rides on) is made out of.  It’s also used in a lot of high-end luxury cars as dash material.  Apparently it resonates well.  Who knew?

I think I can say for sure that the Alfred James Band is the second best live act I’ve ever seen (sorry, guys, Tower of Power and Average White Band at the Keswick got ya beat, but only by a hair!).  Not only are they all great and friendly guys, they are talented musicians with a phenomenal sound.  They played a wonderful cover of Wade in the Water that almost had me in tears.  Their original compositions were no less impressive, especially Wait and a song that I can’t name in which they covered themes of NES games like Zelda and Mario.  I especially loved the bit where Alfred James played didgeridoo and cello at the same time while standing up!

The whole show was exciting and upbeat, and everyone in the audience couldn’t help but be caught up in the energy.  The electric guitar solos positively soared, the acoustic guitar was delightful and solid, and the bass was everything a good bassist should be.  I happily bought a CD at the end of the show (yeah physical media!), but while it’s certainly good and well worth the purchase it can’t measure up to the live performance.  Some acts make for a kinda boring live experience but the Alfred James Band is NOT one of those acts.  I just hope they’ll be in the Philadelphia area again soon since their brand of awesome is all too rare.  Thanks for a great show, guys, and I hope to see you again and again!

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