Mon. Aug. 3
The warm, dimly-light, welcoming atmosphere of Dunleavy's Pub on a laid-back Monday night — tourist couples coming and going, little kids dancing with Grandmama in the aisle, locals munching on free popcorn from the bar — contrasts the usual bar gig for any local rock band. For Dangermuffin, who regularly hit the stages and back corners of boozier venues around town with fuller amplification (and a full drum kit), this cozy scene fits perfectly with their "unplugged" alter-ego AcousticMuffin.
No digital samplers or loops, no kick-pedal percussion contraptions, no fancy effects pedals, no frills, and no distractions — the setup worked well for the trio's rich and rhythmic mix of music. The low-volume approach also allowed lead singer Dan Lotti and lead string player Mike Sivilli plenty of sonic space in which to explore and interact in a more delicate manner than usual.
Sitting side-by-side on the church pew bench in the front window, Lotti strummed the rhythm parts while Sivilli complemented with melodic mini solos, slide riffs, jazzy chords, and counter-melodies. Sivilli's occasional five-string banjo-pickin' added an unusual bluegrass element to some of the more reggae-styled songs, too.
In the normal band setting, Steven Sandifer usually sits behind a small drum kit with a pair or sticks, mallets, or brushes. Here, he stood to the side, statuesque with his arms wrapped around a blond upright bass. Lotti and Sivilli have years' worth of duo chemistry under their belts, but with Sandifer's tasteful and sometimes percussive bass lines, the songs moved with deeper dynamics and soul.
Other Monday evening highlights included a nicely reworked version of Hendrix's "May This Be Love (Waterfall)," and a snappy cover of Toots & the Maytals' "Pressure Drop" with strong harmonies, and Lotti's funny facial expressions when he sings his high notes, with eyebrows raised up and the eyes shut tight. (dangermuffinmusic.com)
AcousticMuffin performs every Monday at 8:30 p.m. at Dunleavys Pub on Sullivan's Island.