by Mary-Ann Brandon
After decades of being one of Chicago’s “in demand” session and road musicians, Ken Saydak moved to La Veta to enjoy all the beauty and serenity that the tiny hamlet has to offer. Huerfano County, being one of the great natural treasures of our country will not, however, solely support a musician of his ilk, so it comes as no surprise that he continues to pursue projects with compatriots from whence he came. Which brings me to the subject of this week’s column, Bandallamas.
Bandallamas is a group comprised of an eclectic core set of musicians (all who boast very impressive credentials) with a rotating “special guest” roster.
Drummer, Wally Ingram (who has played with a fantastic list of artists including Sheryl Crow, Crosby Stills and Nash, Crowded House and Timbuk 3) is credited for inspiring the unusual band name. Having been nicknamed, Wally Llama, somehow this managed to morph into the band name.
Along with Ingram and Saydak, the rest of the core group consists of: Rob Wasserman on Bass (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, just to name a few of his credits) Pauli Ryan (Garbage, U2, Michael MacDonald, Sun Volt, Buddy Miles), Bobby Bryan (Keb Mo’ Lowell Fulsom, Zac Harmon, Finis Tasby, Guitar Shorty), Victor Delorenzo (Violent Femmes, Leo Kottke, Lou Reed, K.D.. Lang), Jane Wiedlin (founding member of legendary girl pop punk band The Go Go’s), Richard Davis (Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon) and finally the glue that holds the band together, engineer, vocalist and guitar player, Chris Aaron. It was a project that Aaron engineered (The Velveetatones, a side project for Saydak) that led to Ken being invited to join the group.
The rotating “special guests” include : Pat MacDonald (Timbuk 3, Cher, Keith Urban, Peter Frampton), Eric McFadden (George Clinton. Eric Burdon), Melanie Jane (Pat MacDonald, Victor Delorenzo), Hazel Miller (Big Head Todd and the Monsters) Delaney Davidson and Tony Brown.
I asked Saydak to try to put this musical collaboration into a category. His response; “It is a return to the music sensibilities of the late 1960’s when it was not unusual to find playlists with expansive repertoire such as Carlos Santana, Traffic, Frank Sinatra, Hendrix, CSN, Eric Clapton and Cream. We are creating a stylistic mix not subject to limitations.”
Their new C.D. entitled “Eye To Eye” is available from all the usual sources. To celebrate this release the band opened for Loverboy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the 2010 Waterfest. Saydak offered the following about their debut concert performance in front of a crowd of several thousand fans; “From the staging, to the equipment and sound personnel, everything is top shelf. The sophistication and talent is electric. With so much depth on stage, you really feel you are part of something special.”
If you find yourself curious about their sound, log on to You Tube and plug in Bandallamas for a very nice video of the title tune, “Eye To Eye”.
Check out www.bandallamas.com for further info.