hot summer night in 1962 at the ol' El-Rey Drive-In Theater
in Nowhere, Nevada, the film projector overheated and broke down
towards the end of the first flick on a scheduled double-feature.
As impatient teens honked their horns at the delay, the frantic
drive-in manager located Dark, the custodian
he had hired a few weeks back. Dark had materialized one day,
looking for some work and had only a small backpack and an oddly
shaped instrument case with him. He was hired and did a good job
of cleaning up, so much in fact, that he often finished his duties
ahead of schedule and spent the balance of his shift sitting on
the roof of the projection shack, looking up at the stars and
strumming on his Appalachian mountain dulcimer. The manager never
minded, in fact, it was nice to hear something other than the
dim whine of soundtrack bleeding out of the speakers that hung
on every car window. But now, the only sound was a cacophony of
horns and angry shouts of "what gives?"
As the story goes, Dark was asked to go up to the small stage
in front of the screen, fire up the P.A. that was used for auctions
on Sunday mornings and start playing some music to soothe those
savage customers. So, Dark went up there as instructed, switched
on the sound, set up the microphones and started to play. Well,
the kids--they got up out of their cars and walked to the front
of the theater so they could hear him better and they never did
get that second movie running, but no-one seemed to mind.
Funny thing is, kids started honking after the first film every
weekend after that, waiting for Dark to come out and do a little
something in between. Dark agreed to do it, but only if he could
find a good bass picker and a drummer to complete the trio. Turns
out that the concession stand worker, Hippie,
had a drum set in his truck and E-Z, the perpetually
stoned ticket seller up front, was a bassist. The three of them
practiced in the snack bar during the hot Nevada afternoons and
the manager took E-Z's shift and sold tickets while the trio played
Pretty soon, the kids began showing up at the El-Rey Drive-In
specifically for the music.
The trio became known as The El-Reys and performed
for a number of years before, one-by-one, they filtered out of
Nowhere in search of an existence that wasn't so dusty, boozy
and stifling. They left behind a legacy of unusually diverse music
that was discovered in 1999 by Bing Futch while
driving through the Arizona desert. Calling upon a few friends,
a tribute band was created to hold up the legacy of The El-Reys,
while creating new music in the Americana spirit that they had
pioneered. This is how Mohave was born.
Essentially serving as a soundtrack to the stories told by the
band, a wide range of musical styles can be found within the songs
in Bing's African/American Indian heritage, the core of the music
takes slave chants and spirituals, ceremonial percussiveness and
tribal beats, mixing them together with the celtic thunder and
southeastern bluegrass tones of the Appalachian mountain dulcimer.
Indigenous folk music from all over the world gets woven into
the tapestry, with a number of international instruments contributing
to the world-beat vibe. Tunes that deal with dusty drunk tanks,
star-crossed robbers, Irish immigrants, conflicted bombers, spicy
food, interminable interstates and ill-fated gators get appropriate
dashes of Dixieland, progressive rock, pop, country, blues, jazz
, Tex-Mex, zydeco and soundtrack music.
hot combination of fun, compelling stories and catchy tunes, Mohave
delivers a tasty table of good-timing, positive music!
The phrase "hold on to your hats" applies to each and
every MOHAVE performance. From the traditional opening tune "Nowhere,
Nevada" that sets the stage for each show, Bing is one part
storyteller, one part balladeer, another part ringmaster with
a solid chunk of tribal wildman at the heart of every second of
band is a dynamic sideshow of movement, sound and unexpected detours
as they lay out an ever-changing array of styles, breaking intense
improvisational grooves and following the unpredictable directions
in which the dreadlocks fly. When accented by video screens that
display imagery behind and around the band, its a fully immersive
experience that plays out like a rock musical.
aside, the best moments of a MOHAVE show are those that involve
the audience. Whether it's engaging the crowd in sing-alongs,
whipping up impromptu ditties for folks with cause for celebration
or simply acknowledging and appreciating every group, the love
affair between this Americana band and its "extended tribe"
is evident at every gig. It's the kind of show that people are
still talking about on Monday morning!