Kingsborough, Highway Poets, and Coffis Bros Live At The Hop Monk Sebastopol
When one goes to as many gigs as I do, both small local ones and large festivals...I tend to be very critical due to the fact that I have so much to compare. Hey...before this political administration I thought George W was as bad as it can possibly be...but how wrong was I?!! Trump has given my 'how bad can it get' end of the spectrum an entirely new endpoint. Nowadays George W doesn't seem half as bad as I thought before Trump and his administration came along. But this is not about politics this is about music...and live music doesn't get much better than what was witnessed at this show in Sebastopol!
On Saturday July 8, at a local pub in Sebastopol, The Hop Monk Tavern, a venue and pub/restaurant where I've been seeing major and minor acts, both local and national touring bands, play the indoor room called The Abbey, (capacity around 200). I walked in to what I thought was going to be fairly predictable night of music. Kingsborough headlining, and The Coffis Bros as the opening band. Kingsborough, the headliners is a hard hitting contemporary rock band. The band is made up of Billy Kingsborough lead vocals and guitar, Alex Leach guitar, Chris Mangione bass and bringing it all together is John Whitney on drums. A group of talented locals that I've seen grow up in the past few years. Well grown up they are! This was their CD release party for their second album called 1544. I had the disk in my hands, the day prior and I was blown away with how much these local lads have improved, and their sound was polished to near perfection with their new producer, Damien Lewis. But I did think that this gig was going to be another Kingsborough gig that I've seen numerous times in the past few years. All good but I wasn't at all expecting to be blown away like I was...I was so wrong, this was no ordinary gig at The Hop Monk! What I witnessed that night was anything but average...it was anything but predictable, it was in a category all its own, starting with the Coffiss Bros. Two Brothers, and songwriting team, Jamie and Kellen Coffis’ blend folk, blues, and straight up rock reminiscent of the likes of what I would call a slightly folkier sounding Tom Petty. They've released two albums, the latest called, Wrong Side of The Road. Recorded at Gadgetbox Studios in Santa Cruz with producer, Andy Zenczak, the album features contributions from friends of the band like Jim Lewin (Great American Taxi, Todd Snider), Ryan Avellone (The Brothers Comatose) and jazz vocalist Tammi Brown (Stanley Jordan). Coffis bros are a five piece band. Joining Jamie and Kellen Coffis are, drummer Henry Chadwick, Aidan Collins on bass and the guy who should be watched is the budding guitar god Kyle Poppen. Poppen was clearly a stand out for me, with his command over the instrument from slide to shredding! I have a feeling we'll see Poppen playing with some major acts in the upcoming years.
Just after 10, Kingsborough took the stage to a capacity packed house. Lights off, stage darkened, Billy, Chris, Alex and John entered in the dark and took their places. Lights go up and went right into their set with a track called, 'Something Strange' from their new album. Followed by 19 more, heavy hitting rock tunes. Connecting well with the audience as Billy Kingsborough always does. Billy Kingsborough, has a personality that is warm and welcoming, always with a kind and inviting smile. No doubt he and his band are really enjoying themselves as they get lost in the music. The band, Kingsborough consists of Billy Kingsborough on lead vocals and guitar, Alex Leach on guitar and vocals, Chris Mangione on bass and John Whitney on drums holding it all together. After a sweaty couple of hours rocking the The Abbey stage, the encore began with a ballad, "Wild Ones", my personal favourite. Wild Ones is the one ballady song Kingsborough recently injected into the repitoire. For a band that rocks hard, its a nice change of pace for the Kingsborough sound. Towards the end of the two hours, they were joined by members of The Highway Poets, another band to watch out for, comprised of a very talented group from the north band headed by amazing frontman, Sebastian St James. St. James added another dimension to this night that only he can. With his sweet smokey toned voice singing songs with Kingsborough in a way that works so well. Then the members of Kingsborough, Highway Poets were also joined by Coffis Bros, which made for an epic ending to the night! They performed an intense version of "Getting by with a Little help from my Friends". With St James and Billy Kingsborough sharing the mic, their voices melted together and rang out with the audience joining in the musical frenzy extravaganza. As far as the Kingsborough music on the whole...its a great mix of Arctic Monkeys and The Who that is a rare and sweet combination for modern music today. I predict this band will be around for a long time and success will be part of the Kingsborough future...And rightly so, as it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch!