The solid blues players in Cool Disposition turn Neumann's Bar into a crowded, smokey, hip, and the best pure fun juke joint in the state every 2nd Friday when they play. The band is nearly as crowded on the tiny stage as the crowd is in the bar when they hit the ground running hard on harp player Harold Tremblay's dynamite harp instrumental, "Hurricane Howard." It has him playing powerful, rich chromatic harp, getting down low and powerful as his harp riffs tear through the room. All the while Dan Schwalbe plays fast, precise, and expressively behind him. Harold topped things off with some short, hard, percussive harp riffs ala James Cotton and a powerful, smooth, long held note at the end, bending at the waist as he blows. Greg Beach on bass and Marty Bryduck on drums lay down some strong, throbbing bass and some great touch-drumming respectively to wrap up a great instrumental sound.
Then it's time for front man and lead vocalist Mickey Bauer to step up on the stage and deliver some smooth, slow, clear vocals with his hip delivery on the slow, cool blues of "Mellow Down Easy." As Mickey does his thing out front with the microphone, Harold and Scwalbe create an ear pleasing interplay between harp and guitar. After this solid cover, they come back with another strong original, "Love and Glow." This catchy, mid-tempo rolling blues features strong, smooth and expressive chromatic harp by Harold and strong, passionate vocals by Mickey. All the while Schwalbe, easily one of the more controlled guitar players I have ever seen, lays down crisp, fast guitar picking that richly adds to the mix. Next Harold comes back with a solid harp solo to a walking beat, blowing strong, repeating riffs, bringing it down for some nice, slow, subtle notes, slowly bending and repeating riffs and finishing with some nice, low trills. At the back of the stage Marty shows some nice touch drumming, laying down a precise, solid rhythm with his light touch that enriches rather than overpowers.
All night the band lives up to their name, as on "Hip Shake." Mickey's strong, hip, passionate vocals drive this boogie woogie classic, singing fast and clear as the tiny dance floor is crowded with happy, sweaty dancers whose elbows occasionally collide with each other and go right over the edge of the stage. Harold's short, expressive harp riffs and Schwalbe's strong, fast picking blend nicely for a rich instrumental sound to serve as a solid foundation for Mickey's rocking vocals. The crowd screamed and cheered their approval. These guys have only been together a few years, but lots of practice and steady gigging has them jelling into a solid local band. They mix solid, less often heard covers like the fast rolling blues of Howling Wolf's "When You Squeeze Me Baby" with strong originals like "The Joy Ride." On the former Harold puts in exclamation point on the song with a big harp flourish at the end. On the latter Mickey's full rich vocals and clever lyrics about small town boredom and the search for excitement make for some great music. Harold's short, expressive harp riffs spice things up, while Schwalbe positively rocks, swaying back and forth, bobbing his head as he strums fast and rips off some great high-pitched riffs, to the crowds delight. Mickey's strong, clear vocals cap things off. This great, mid-tempo rocking blues number will be featured on their soon to be released CD, Romping at the Rib Shack (tentatively May 24th, Cold Wind Records).
Blues sounds best in a small, crowded space where the sweaty, happy dancers can interact and react up close and personal to the cool, swinging blues ringing out from the stage. Cool Disposition seem to be a perfect match for this every month, drawing a full house that loves to have a few libations, drop the stress from the week, and just have a good time. When you're dancing up close by the stage, you can see Harold sweating and straining over his chromatic harp, Schwalbe doing those incredible licks from three feet away, and Mickey's big vocals and tilted mike stand literally swinging out into the crowd. You want to watch out for the neck of Greg's bass when you're on that side of the stage. For a good blues time, be sure to slide on up to Neumann's for Cool Disposition. You won't be disappointed. Just bring your dancing shoes and be ready to hit the dance floor.
A Few Words with Cool Disposition
April 3, 2003
I sat down with Mickey Bauer, lead vocalist, Harold Trembley, harmonica, and Greg Beach, bass, to discuss the origins of the band, upcoming projects and shows, and the blues.
Rich: When did Cool Disposition form?
Mickey: Harold and I had been playing at the various blues jams around town for the last few years. We formed the band by starting auditions in November, 1999, and Greg joined us a few months later.
Rich: How did you develop your sound, which has a hip, retro blues feel to it?
Cool Disposition: We like swinging, jumping music you can dance to. We did a lot of rehearsing to make up for the lack of performing experience we had. At the start, only Greg had a great deal of experience performing in a band. Performing every 2nd Friday at Neumann's gave us a steady gig to develop our music.
Rich: Tell me about your present line-up.
Mickey: Me on vocals, Harold on harmonica, Greg on bass and some vocals, Dan Scwalbe on guitar, and Marty Bryduck on drums.
Rich: You guys seem to have a tight, solid sound and Schwalbe is a great guitar player.
Mickey: We love his guitar. Our practicing and playing together has helped us to improve our music.
Rich: Tell me about your new CD.
Cool Disposition: It's titled Romping at the Rib Shack . We recorded it live at Famous Dave's with Mike Nichols doing the mixing. It has 13 tracks, 5 are which are originals.
Rich: Tell me which songs you like best off the new CD.
Harold: I'm partial to my harp instrumental, "Hurricane Howard," which morphs every time I play it. I like to do different things on it.
Mickey: I like "Joy Ride" a swing thing I wrote, and "Too Much Rhythm" another swinging blues song.
Rich: When is the CD due out?
Mickey: We hope to have it out May 24th and do a CD release party at Whiskey Junction around that date and another one June 13th, our regular monthly date at Neumann's Bar.
Rich: What upcoming shows do you have booked for Spring and Summer?
Cool Disposition: In addition to the CD release parties, we have the regular gig at Neumann's, a June 6th date at Neumann's for a tent party where we play early before Lamont Cranston, and three consecutive nights the July 4th weekend at The St Croix Crab House. We are looking to play more clubs in the area and eventually get in to some blues festivals.
Rich: How do you divide up responsibilities in the band?
Mickey: I handle promotions, and Harold handles our bookings. We are putting together a website, WWW.Cooldispo.com, although there is no content yet. That will be up soon, with schedules and ability to order our CD. We print up and hand out schedules at our shows so our fans can find us. We will also have an automatic e-mail distribution list we encourage our fans to sign up on.
Rich: How do you like playing Neumann's?
Cool Disposition: It's a great place to play. Most of the fans there live close by, and walk over so they can party a little more and not have to drive. It can be a wild place some times, but we have great fans there that love to dance to our music. It's a lot of fun.
Rich: Thanks guys for taking a few minutes to talk. Good luck with the new CD.
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