Thursday, July 22, 2010

Utah's Lab Dogs Bluegrass Band ... Because Salad Is Never Enough


The Lab Dogs understand that you don't win friends with salad.  “Let's go to Pat's BBQ, … you don't need teeth to eat their tasty meat.” Thus began the Lab Dogs Friday performance last Friday at Pat's BBQ, with an unabashed pitch for the restaurant's pulled pork, roasted chicken, and ribs, among other meat entrees.

I learned about the Lab Dogs from Cindy, my former coworker and friend from our Zions Bank days. Before the concert, I chatted up Bill and Eric, two of the Lab Dogs, and learned they regularly play at rest homes and care centers. The group considers these volunteer concerts among their most rewarding performances. But of course, such gigs are not without incident.

One time a patient kept on standing up while the Lab Dogs were playing, which set off an alarm to alert the staff that a patient was possibly in trouble. “The sound of that alarm wasn't anything close to the key we were playing in,” said Eric, the bass guitarist.

When they played at a hospital, the staff had turned off the television during the concert, and one of the fellows was not happy to be missing Wheel of Fortune. He apparently yelled “Bull sh*t!” throughout the performance. Eventually “the captain” was wheeled out, yelling on the way.  
The chuckling good harmony continued the entire evening with such favorites as “I'm a Lockdown for Your Love,” “If Loving You is Killing Me, What a Way to Go,” “We're Pitiful Losers, Just Like You,” and “I'm Walking the Dog, Not Thinkin' 'Bout You.”  The Lab Dogs have a couple of Utah-themed songs. “No Meat For Minersville,” is a tale of the time someone robbed the Minersville grocery store and cut the power to the refrigerator holding an entire town's supply of meat. And “We Love Utah” contrasts Utah's abundant and beautiful natural resources such as the mountains and lakes with the state's persistent acceptance of hazardous waste for storage. The chorus goes something like this:

And if you've got pollution
We've got the solution
Just ship it to Utah,
We'll keep it for you
We'll take plutonium
Depleted uranium
It's a no-brainium
We'll keep it for you

The Lab Dogs have been playing bluegrass music since 1999 at festivals, parties, wedding receptions, and other events. The Dogs were originally a group of archeologists, one of whom is still in the group. One of the other original members was in the audience for the group's performance last Friday. The group's repertoire includes traditional and original music, all of which is lively and entertaining. Their goal is to have a great time playing to (and with) their audience. And they do.
The Lab Dogs are Kevin Jones (mandolin), Erik Brunvand (bass), Peter Netka (resophonic guitar), Bill Thomas (guitar), and DJ Frederick (banjo). Kevin, the State Archeologist, was in the original group, and Bill is on the Mount Making Team at the University of Utah Natural History Museum. And the other Lab Dogs are not scientists. Pete is a retired business man, Eric is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Utah, and DJ is a retired judge.

During the break, I chatted with Eric's wife and learned of a couple possibilities for Celtic jamming here in town. Good to know there are avenues out there for just such.

If you like lively bluegrass music and you like to laugh, you will love the Lab Dogs. The group's website will give you a sampling of their songs, includes information about the band and their upcoming performances, including the Torrey Music Festival on July 31st.  You may also connect with the Lab Dogs via their Facebook page.

At one point during the evening, I commented to my friend Cindy that it seemed like about half the Lab Dog's songs were about meat. “Yes,” she smiled. One song has the line “Pig meat is what I crave.” {vegetarians beware}

Disclosure: cover charge is FREE at Pat's. I received NO compensation for this review.

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