Going with the flow

Gamblin’ Hands dives right in
By CHRIS CONTI  |  October 2, 2008


Business is picking up for East Bay newcomers Gamblin’ Hands, who perform their first headlining show tonight (the 2nd) at the Living Room. The Warren/Barrington-based trio — Matt Reinhardt (drums), Josh Grabert (guitar/harmonica), and Jake Dady (vocals/bass) — has been playing out for less than eight months (their first show was at the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House in Providence), but seem to have carved a nice niche with their style of . . . well, I don’t know what to call it. And that’s a good thing.

The three friends met in classical guitar class during their junior year of high school. Dady and Reinhardt asked transfer student Grabert (who had been kicked out of his first high school) to perform at a local open mic night. After a few years of messing around in other bands, the trio got serious late last year and Gamblin’ Hands was born.

I caught brief sets at AS220 and the Living Room a few months ago and was impressed with their spin on what could have been classified as a neo-stoner/garage folk rock-type thing. Two songs caught my ears and have since been posted on their site (myspace.com/gamblinhands) — “KDubs and AQ” and “Keep the Simple Beat.” Both pick up steam midway through and don’t let up; there’s no meandering or gratuitous Birkenstock “jamming,” just straight-ahead rocking out with Dady’s uniquely warbled vocals, Grabert’s nimble picking (both six-string and banjo), and Reinhardt’s steady pacing. The band nicknamed the rough yet promising demos The Palmer River Water Sessions after the waterway spanning Rehoboth to Barrington. Other noteworthy tracks include “Forty Nine Brow” and “Cardboard Eyeballs,” where Dady lobs a few memorable barbs toward his lady: “Hey woman what’s your problem now, think you’re so smart right from the start/We don’t even chit-chat before we part/I’ve seen the likes of you before, that’s why I feel no heartbreak when I walk out the door.” These early takes chug and coast along, and hopefully both will make the final cut as Grabert said a debut full-length should be out by early ’09 and is “excited to pull out some new songs” tonight at the Living Room, a fitting venue for their brand of muddy garage rock.

Gamblin’ Hands may not be splitting the musical atom with these fuzzy, nouveau folk ditties just yet, but the trio may have stumbled onto a promising future.

“Our sound was never defined by the band,” Grabert said via email. “We never sat down and said we want to sound like this or that — it’s just what comes out and flows. A lot of the music onstage is improvised and we definitely have jam-band roots, but we’re not going to stand there and play 20 minutes of aimless guitar noodling.”

Gamblin’ Hands + Nick Hurley | The Living Room, 23 Rathbone St, Providence | October 2 at 8 pm | 401.521.5200

Off the couch
On Friday (the 3rd), AS220 hosts a benefit show for a pair of Providence Industrial Workers of the World who were injured by North Providence cops during a union march last year (recall the brutal footage of Alexandra Svoboda’s leg being snapped sideways). The thoroughly hardcore local lineup includes VERSE headlining, with THE BODY, SAINT JUDE, and WASTELAND. The headbanging begins at 7:30 pm, the cost is $8 at the door. Call 401.831.9327. For lighter fare on Friday, venture to the Peeptoad Coffeehouse in Foster and check out AZTEC TWO-STEP — the folk duo has been releasing albums and working the circuit since 1972. Call 401.647.3105. Also on Friday, the Blackstone in Pawtucket has TEVELLUS, SPOGGA, and DJ MIKE HOSKA, with LA comedian BEN MORRISON in tow. Call 401.726.2181.

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