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Band Review

The Pickniks
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Band Review

I spent Saturday afternoon at Dudley park, home of Jeff Greens longest home run, parked in my lawn chair, enjoying the music of the Pickniks! They WERE Priceless! Their lead singer, Don, has a GREAT boyish voice, similar to Ricky Nelson. What a tenor! So sweet and smooth and easy, never strained. Listening to him is a pure pleasure. The Pickniks are consummate pros. They pay attention to every nuance, including auxiliary percussion. The harmonies on backup vocals were just superb. They make it look easy! If I didn’t work on that stuff myself, I would never know just what a great job they do. They can even do the Beach Boys! Wow. Really impressive. The instrumental musicianship is also top notch. Their mix is excellent, you can hear everything crystal clear. Don’s playing on rythym guitar is just as smooth as his vocals, the drummer is very skilled (great Wipe Out!) but very tasteful; Jeff is, of course, note perfect on lead guitar, and he brags on his “little” brother for good reason. He played awesome bass guitar, then switched off to guitar for a short while and really rocked. (they’ve got another “young” guy in training who stepped in on bass). The Pickniks capture the Surf sound and early Pop Rock perfectly. They do mix it up a little, too, with their stylized version of a big band song, their stylized version of the jazz standard Besame Mucho, as well as another Latin/Mexican style song. The Pickniks also play originals, created by Jeff Green! He has written several instrumental songs in the surf era style and they are just as good as any of those by the groups they emulate. It is a very pleasant and enjoyable band to listen to. Jeff, you guys do a fabulous job of preserving some RnR history and deserve to play a gig at the RARHOFAM and I am dead serious.

Don didn’t sing every song. Jeff, his brother Grant, and new member-in-training, Bob, also sang some leads. Every song and every performance was a good one. Jeff, as you already know, has a great deep voice and should sing a little more. They don’t even let him sing Secret Agent Man! I screamed in protest to no avail. Don doesn’t have enough “edge” on Satisfaction, Jeff or Grant should try it. Grant struck me as the “loosest” member of the group. He adds the element of “hip”. He’s very thin (he cheats, he’s a smoker! Oh, my, he should have seen those lungs at Body Worlds!!) Anyway, he’s thin and he moves his body in a very cool way while he plays. Very understated, but rhythmic. He’s got long hair past his shoulders and a great smile. He projects fun when he sings. Bob, the “new” guy is still a work in progress. He sometimes needs to smooth the vibrato a little more on sustained notes. The Pickniks specialize in a very youthful style of music and vibrato is “aging”. He’ll do fine as he gets more experience and relaxes a little. His guitar work was worthy of the Pickniks, also. The only time they really needed a little help, was on the song “Downtown”. Jeff, I’ll have to bring or memorize the lyrics and jump up and sing it for you next time!

Oh, now for the all important equipment review. Jeff work a yellow Hawaiian shirt with brown palm trees. Grant stood next to him in a coordinating orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt. The drummer wore a black shirt with parrots! Bob and “younger guy” wore a contrasting look with blue Hawaiian shirts. Poor Don, unfortunately is a physical wreck who sits down behind a music stand and one must make an effort to even see him at all. He wore a white t-shirt with a open Hawaiian shirt over it. The drums were red. Jeff played the tomato soup guitar. (He considered playing a green guitar, but had just changed the strings and was concerned about using it in the variable atmosphere of an outdoor environment). Their stage presence is very casual. They don’t run one song into the next, they usually have a couple minutes of casual chat between the songs, talk amongst themselves and they sometimes play the tuning song. Grant even tuned his guitar during one song. When “young guy” started playing the bass, he freaked that his instrument was out of tune, threw it on the ground and grabbed Grant’s instead. The only thing distracting about it was that it lay on the ground near his feet and I worried he would step on it or trip over it! Jeff is his usual amusing self and adds bits of trivia, both professional and personal, when he addresses the audience. They have little gag remarks, like “If you have any requests, just give them to us and we will politely refuse to play them.” Once they warned the next song would be a little loud. I screamed in excitement, but guess what? The Pickniks do not play loud, period. It did rock, though. Just like their music, their manner is very smooth and easy.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of Jeff’s friends and family there. Including his esteemed mother, a frail little woman who sat to the side of the band, obviously delighted to watch her “boys” and delighted with the music, as she bounced and clapped. Another member of the entourage was a young woman with Down’s syndrome who also really got into the music. She would sometimes dance, and she and I danced together for several numbers. She was a sweet soul who told me I was a good dancer and brought me a dandelion. Jeff’s wife and her friend Carol even fed all of us a picnic during the break between their two sets! I wasn’t expecting that, but it was very lucky for me, ‘cause I was at a soccer game and running an errand before I booked over there, and didn’t get any lunch. So I had a Picnic with the Pickniks! Chicken and two huge salads, etc. It was also Don’s birthday that day, so after the gig we had cake. After singing Happy Birthday, of course!

Thanks, again, Jeff, it was a great time!