‘Yoni Gras’ at Maryland Ensemble Theatre by Mike Spain

Yoni Gras shows the Maryland Ensemble Theatre likes their music like their theatre productions daring. The event consisted of six independent bands over two nights and about six hours of music. The eclectic mix of music ranged from the Synth driven sounds of Holy MTN, the high energy twang rock of Silent Old Mountain, the hard driving blues rock of Old Indian, the smooth sounds of Honeyhound, the eclectic blend of hip hop, rap, rock, and a Harp of Violet Overnight, and the traditional sounding Adrienne and the Merrylanders.

Adrienne and the Merrylanders. Photo by Mike Spain.

Kudos to the MET for providing the bands a place to play, experiment and gain some exposure in front of a very accepting audience. The price was a bargain at $5 a night or $7 for both nights. Plus the theatre’s seats are more comfortable than most venues.

Friday night had more energy. The crowd danced more. Perhaps Holy MTN will be the band that revives the Synth driven sounds of the 80’s. They had original songs delivered in a style reminiscent of Devo and The Cure. They were followed by Silent Old Mountain. I had heard them as the house band in the Maryland Ensemble Theatre production The All New, Grand Ole Hee Haw Hootenany Hoe Down Jamboree where they were more of a bluegrass band. That was acting; their true sound was a high energy, twang rocking where even the banjos were plugged in! Old Indian closed out the first night. Literally, they were the loudest band at Yoni Gras and in my opinion the best band of the first night. They were a blues driven hard rock band that could be heard all the way out on Patrick Street! I loved their Les Paul driven guitar sound and feedback experiments. However, I couldn’t hear their vocals.

The second night didn’t have the high energy of the first night. However, the second night did feature better vocal performances. Honeyhound was the first band of the night and they set the bar high for the evening. The band had just formed in April and even though they may have the butterflies and jitters. Their talents shine through and they are able to laugh through any awkward situation. Singer Britina Evelyn has a lot of talent, Matt Traks is a solid guitarist, John Fenker (Bass) and Jordan Dutterer (Drums) can hold the groove.

Adrienne and the Merrylanders. Photo by Mike Spain.

Violet Overnight is a high energy band which would have fit in well during the first night. The band combines elements of spoken word, rap, hip hop, rock, and classical into a musical outfit which can only be described as eclectic. The band is fronted Francis Mwale who is an actor as well. A harp player is not what you expect to hear in a band rocking and rapping. However, Abigail Palmer adds a lot to the band’s sound with her instrument. She also has a beautiful voice which she adds mostly in the background. Abigail was given the chance to shine in a cover of “Over the Rainbow” and she delivered! Again they are another new band just formed in April so they are trying to work out their sound.

Honeyhound. Photo by Mike Spain.

Adrienne and the Merrylanders closed out Yoni Gras. Adrienne showed she was a capable singer. Guitarist Seth Dorcus shined up and down the fretboard. Again they are new band working on their first release. The way the band sounded Saturday – I am looking forward to their debut recording.

Yoni Gras put the spotlight on a wide variety of local bands. Some bands may have shined more than others, some may have experimented more than others, but many flavors of Frederick music were displayed. The bands were creative and the musicians and the audience had two nights of fun at a minimal cost.

Running time: About three hours each night.

Yoni Gras was a two-night concert event at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre – 31 W. Patrick Street, in Frederick, MD. Check out all their summer special events at their website.



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