DOGS IN A PILE UNITE FANS IN LOVE AND HARMONY WITH THREE HOUR SHOW IN MORRISVILLE, PA

Story and Videos by Marc Komito

Photos by Ron Adelberg Photography

September 23, 2020

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Regardless of which side of the stage you may call home, there’s absolutely nothing that unites people in love and harmony like live music. Even as 2020 has made it more difficult to keep the spirit nourished with live music’s soul food, bands like Dogs In A Pile have been doing whatever it takes to grow their family and spread their love. Hungry to play live in front of actual humans and not computer screens, they’ve taken on an aggressive travel schedule playing every gig they can get their hands from Vermont restaurants to local suburban parties and everything in between.


Fortunate enough to have seen Dogs In A Pile twice in the aforementioned private party format, Saturday night at Snipes Farm in Morrisville, PA was my first chance to experience this local quintet out in the wild. The Asbury Park jam band took every advantage of the opportunity as they delighted their adoring #dogpound with a three-hour plus marathon of all original material, their first ever public show without a cover song and truth be told, it wasn’t missed one bit. As many in the crowd were seeing a live show for the first time since the pandemic began, eager fans hung on every word and note, giving visual and auditory feedback in spades as they danced freely and showered the band with adoring cheers. This show certainly felt different than the previous couple of times I’ve seen them and the crowd’s energy was palpable, especially combined with the production value of the lasers, haze, and massive PA.


Just seventeen years old (!), Joe Babick quite literally anchors the band from his rear stage position, figuratively even more so as his beats provide the framework around which the band in front of him builds. Standing stage left is twenty-two year old Sam Lucid on bass and vocals. Providing the counterpoint to the rhythm section formed by he and Babick, he’s never content to just sit in a pocket, essentially running complementary five-string bass solos with funk and jazz in equal measure in a manner that would make his idol Jaco Pastorious proud. Jimmy Law occupies center stage on guitar and vocals and to see his eyes roll back into his head during a solo is to quickly understand how at only twenty-one years old he’s already a ten-year veteran of live crowds. Brian Murray, positioned just to Jimmy’s right, shares lead guitar and vocal duties in addition to being Dogs In A Pile’s most consistent songwriter. Brian can melt your face just as easily as he can double you over with laughter and his on-stage antics belie the fun that is a live Dogs show. Comedic partner in crime and keyboardist Jeremy Kaplan sits stage right, his setup consisting of a Nord Stage 3, Korg Prologue, and Hammond XK-3, in addition to a slide whistle and trumpet, natch. Berkelee schooled alongside mates Lucid and Murray, Jeremy’s playing knows no boundaries, even within the framework of this quintessential jamband.

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I’ve been really lucky to get to know these guys and their families pretty well over the last month, so much so that to write about their music without reflecting on their character as humans would leave my words incomplete. To a man, these are good people; polite, respectful, and humble to a fault, their friendship brings as much joy as their music which is saying a lot as I positively delight in watching these guys play. Dog’s unique brand of improvisational badassery cut with regular and healthy doses of their classical and jazz training not only keeps my feet and hips in non stop motion but speaks directly to my heart, as well.


Just as the name Dogs In a Pile tips the hat to the Grateful Dead, so too does their music drip with subtle but steady references from the influences who shaped their musical lives. {Lyrics from the Grateful Dead’s “He’s Gone” include, “Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile, nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.} The Grateful Dead and Phish quotes and teases that find their way with regularity into their sets don’t define Dog’s music though they do inform their style. A most recent example from Saturday night, Brian Murray playing with the lyrics to the Dead’s “Hell In a Bucket” during “Can’t Wait”, particularly with a head nod to Bob Weir’s theatrics as he sang, “At least I’m enjoying the ride. Riiiiide.” If ya know, then ya know.


A beautiful jazz intro on keys -- with a little slide whistle, taboot -- gave way to “Snow Day” which also alluded to the Grateful Dead as song title “Greatest Story Ever Told” worked its way into the lyrics. Maybe I’m just reading too much into this but it’s fun and also part of the reason why they seem to attract a tie-dyed crowd of all ages. “Thomas Duncan Pt. 2” just drips with Lucid and Kaplan’s signature funk. Check out a short clip while paying particular attention to Sam’s stank face!

Watch Brian shine in “Blues for Brian”.

Lest one get the idea that all these guys do is wail, Jimmy started the set-closing “Bubble” with the most beautiful and deliberate blues that showed patience, restraint, and maturity well beyond his twenty-one years. Seeing nothing more than the whites of his eyes as he soloed, Jimmy Law was simply on another planet Saturday night that made it easy to see why the local wunderkind has been so embraced by the Asbury music community.


After a short break, Dogs returned with “Rinky Dink Rag”, a personal favorite that really highlights all things Jeremy. In truth, “Bugle on the Shelf” may have supplanted it on my Mt. Rushmore of Dogs tunes, not just for its ridiculous jams but for the ad libbed lyrics that Brian sang just to, well, me. As I joked with Brian’s girlfriend about my line, she brought me back down to earth with a giggle, reminding me that she has full songs. Check and mate. Wish there was some video to share of the smile-inducing lyrical ad lib but it’s proving elusive to locate.I did, however, capture some of the shred.

In addition to impromptu lyrics, the little mariachi-punk number that follows highlights both the band’s range and the contagious fun they have on stage (too soon for contagious jokes?!?, sorry not sorry).

It would continue like this for nearly three and a half hours, Dogs In a Pile both feeding and being fed by the massive amount of communal energy that is livemusic. Though the band may not have been able to see more than a few feet in front of the stage due to the lights, they could definitely feel us as Saturday felt like a special show for everyone.


For yours truly, another 16,649 steps of unadulterated fun that made the forty-three degree low temperature feel like twice that.

Setlist:

Set One: G Song, Can’t Wait -> Snow Day, Thomas Duncan Pt. 2 -> Blue for Brian, Stevie Lew, Bubble

Set Two: Rinky Dink Rag > Bugle on the Shelf* > Charlie, Por Que Pedro, Samba for Sam > Trunk Rum > Samba for Sam, Craig and Pat

Encore: Spun

*with Marc Komito lyrics :)




Cosmic @ Woodbridge HS

Focusing on the ninety minutes I caught rather than the ninety minutes I missed, it’s still hard for me to write about this one, especially considering what was left on the table. No regrets, however, even if missing one of the most vintage Cosmic encores of all time (Lovelight > Tweezer Reprise > Bid You Goodnight) encore does sting a bit. A beautiful “Scarlet Begonias” got the late afternoon kicked off in high fashion. Usually followed by “Fire on the Mountain”, Cosmic instead played original “We Are Divine” as they continue to push out their new material in big spots. Not only was there no letdown from the expected “Fire”, but “Divine” went deep and jammed hard as Billy Siegel explored some new funky new territory on the keys. Original “What Am I?” has grown into a tasty number that I delight in hearing live.


Setlist:

Set 1: Scarlet Begonias > We Are Divine*, Cassidy > What Am I?*, Brand New Start*^, Bloom* > My Brother Esau, This Fire* > Throwing Stones > Not Fade Away.

Set 2: Wine Women Rock* > Heavy Things > Who Was John? > Make Me Feel High* > Victim Or The Crime > Drums > Space > Sweet Jane, Thrown Away*^ > Crooked Tree* > Terrapin Suite > Mary*. Encore: Turn On Your Love Light > Tweezer Reprise > And We Bid You Goodnight.

*originals, ^debuts.

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Asbury Park Vibes is a media publication dedicated to shining a light on the live music scene, as well as promoting the artists we love! We strive to provide show reviews, photographs, and artist stories that bring fans and musicians closer together.

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