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Downright on Exotic Sounds and the Physics of Waffle House

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Photo by Andi Rice.

By Tammy Brackett

 

The summer tour and festival season is in full swing, and few bands hit the open road with more joy than the members of Downright. Downright has been together for years, and the camaraderie, fun and musical high jinks of the tight, funky ensemble spill over into their lives as friends.

 

“Touring is always an adventure,” says keyboardist and songwriter Matthew Devine. “It represents unplugging from everyday life and camaraderie with some of my best friends (the band). Every town is a little different and has its own special flavor, and that’s cool to experience. The downside to touring is being away from family, not being well‑rested, and sometimes it’s hard to eat what is good for you.”

 

“Getting to enjoy the local cuisine of wherever you find yourself is great,” says guitarist Steve Lewis. “Including visits to the local Waffle House. We are all big talkers, and so we have excellent never‑ending conversations in the van.”

 

Downright’s live show is interactive and incorporates elements of video and live art. Often, the band is joined by local dance ensembles.

 

“We are aiming for a multimedia experience for sure,” says Devine. “We go out into the crowd to get our fans excited about the moment. We dance around a lot ourselves, we do a lot of call and response. Songs like ‘Natty Bumppo,’ ‘Come Out and Play’ and ‘Dirt’ have highly repetitive sections that usually turn into sing alongs.

 

“We drug our friend Michael Gordon all over Europe with a projector, screens and cameras to add special elements to the shows. We want the show to be entertaining on every level while also being its own unique kind of art form. It’s a work in progress, and we are constantly trying to improve and change it to keep it fresh and make it better.”

 

“We bring a lot of sound for a trio,” says Lewis. “Between Matt’s Herculean feats on the synths (bass and right hand) and Jay’s exciting drumming, it gives me a lot of freedom to jump around and sometimes put my guitar down and do the lead singer thing. We are also incorporating a lot of loops and exotic sounds to freak our people out. Lately we’ve been getting more audience participation going—breaking the wall between audience and band. We wear somewhat matching wardrobe, so if you wear a similar outfit to the show you are automatically in the band.”

 

And what about the quantum physics of Waffle House? Drummer Jay says: “With regard to touring, it is an existential dilemma how the Waffle House can equal fun, and equally and unequivocally equal not‑fun all at the same time (inter alia). Perhaps this is a question for theoretical physics, as my own efforts in experimental physics on the matter have failed.

 

“However, I do maintain that in the special case of scattered, covered and smothered hash browns, there is a key principle here in getting the Lorentz transformations without requiring an invariant speed. But that’s just a hunch…”

 

Catch Downright at the Funky Blues Shack at the Village of Baytowne Wharf July 22 and 23. Discover more at downrightmusic.net.

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