June 24, 2010
Truffle al fresco
Summer means a season of outdoor shows
By Michael Witthaus firstname.lastname@example.org
Not many bands have the staying power of Truffle, the roots rock quartet that, now in its 25th year, is as familiar to Seacoast music fans as lobster rolls and Smuttynose beer. You can catch the band in one configuration or another most every night of the week.
There’s Acoustic Truffle, a trio featuring bassist David Bailey, Ned Chase on multiple strings and Dave Gerard singing and playing guitar. The duo of Gerard and Bailey appears regularly at Fury’s Publick House in Dover, Hampton’s North Beach Bar and Grill and other Seacoast locations. Gerard plays solo at a number of venues, including York Harbor Inn, Epping’s Holy Grail, and every other Tuesday in the Dolphin Striker’s basement Spring Hill Tavern.
Above all, there’s Electric Truffle, formed as Savoy Truffle in 1986 by UNH pals Gerard, Bailey, Chase and a drummer, replaced by Mike Gendron in the mid-’90s. They’ve made five records, including their only major-label effort, Nervous Laughter in 1994.
On lead guitar and vocals, Gerard is the band’s anchor, with a smooth, rustic voice that recalls John Hiatt and J.J. Cale. He’s given the band’s melting pot of music a name — “‘Funkaribbean blues’ to me kind of sums it up,” Gerard said. “It’s an old term we used years ago. Kind of funky, the Caribbean world beat going, and it’s certainly blues and R&B. The thing that separates us is the world beat flair that comes in at times — we love that stuff.”
In the mid-’90s, Truffle toured relentlessly, bragging in a press release that they’d performed in “all but ten states across the U.S., playing as many as 275 shows in one year.” These days, the band stays closer to home, partly because Gerard recently became a father for the first time.
“We have a nice little pocket of New England that we can play to that makes it all worthwhile,” he said. They do, however, still travel to annual winter gigs in Virginia, Colorado and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
With the arrival of good hometown weather, a favorite iteration of the band is gearing up: Truffle Al Fresco. As Gerard sees it, “summer here is short, only two months. People want to have the outdoor, daytime all-ages kind of shows.” A list of appearances at places like Weirs Beach, Stratham Hill Park and the Rochester Common is featured prominently on the band’s home page.
On June 25, the band plays the Stone Church in Newmarket. Along with the Press Room in Portsmouth, it’s one of the band’s favorite venues — “Our mainstays,” Gerard said. “The Press Room can be a listening room and a rowdy dance and fun room. It’s equally fun at Stone Church, which has a beautiful sound system and a great engineer. It’s just a notch up on the club circuit. We’ve been playing there since we were underage.”
When the Stone Church faced closure a few years ago, Truffle stepped up to help keep it open, performing several benefits for the troubled listening room.
“There were many uncomfortable moments,” Gerard said. “The thought of the area without the Stone Church is just brutal.”
Over the band’s long run, they’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with several prominent acts, including Phish, the Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler and the Band. Gerard recalls one heady day early in their career when they opened for Little Feat at a show in Vermont.
“I remember Paul Barrere and Richie Hayward standing on the side of the stage, watching us,” Gerard said. “We were a pretty young band at the time, but we were pretty confident, feeling good about ourselves. Those guys were watching us and grooving and at the end of the show, Richie Hayward said, ‘Man, you guys are a funky band.’ It was one of those things — ‘holy shit, man, Richie Hayward just said we were funky.’ That’s one that always stands out in my mind.”
Truffle’s last studio effort, That’s Right, came out in 2005; Gerard has also made four solo albums. The latest, Zoomy Trail, has the feel of a band effort. Made with assistance from Gerard’s band mates in Truffle and several regional musicians (even his wife Maria chipped in), it was released last year. The walks Gerard took with his late grandfather inspired the record.
“The ‘Zoomy Trail’ was whatever path we chose — adventure,” Gerard said. “I hope every time someone puts it on it takes them to a different place; that’s what a good album should do.”
Full details at www.gerardtruffle.com
• Friday, June 25, at 8 p.m. at the Stone Church, 5 Granite St. in Newmarket, 659-6321
• Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth Gas Light Co., 64 Market St. in Portsmouth, 431-9122
• Wednesday, July 14, outdoors at Stratham Hill Park in Stratham
• Saturday, July 17, outdoors at the Celebration of Life Party in York, Maine, and later that night at Red Parka Pub, Route 302 in Glen, 383-4344
• Saturday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. outdoors at Winnipesauke Market Place, 21 Weeks St. in Weirs Beach, 366-5800
• Tuesday, July 6, 7-8:30 p.m. outdoors at Rochester Common on South Main Street, www.rochesterrec.com
• Monday, July 12, at 7 p.m. for the Thomas Laighton Rockin’ on the River WSHK Cruise, www.islesofshoals.com
• Thursday, July 29, at 8 p.m. at Gravity Tavern, 35 Mont Vernon Road in New Boston, gravitytavern.blogspot.com
Dave Gerard & David Bailey Duo
• Thursday, June 24, at 9 p.m. at Fury’s Publick House, 1 Washington St. in Dover, 617-3633
• Saturday, June 26, at 9 p.m. at North Beach Bar and Grill in Hampton
Dave Gerard solo
• Tuesday, June 29, and every other Tuesday at 9 p.m. at Dolphin Striker (Spring Hill Tavern), 15 Bow St. in Portsmouth, 431-5222
• Saturday, July 10, outdoors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Concord Arts Market, Eagle Square in Concord.
Here they are
Who: Scorpions with Vince Neil
Where: Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion
When: Wednesday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $24 to $64, www.meadowbrook.net