If you don’t like it, wait a few minutes
KEYSTONE – A night with Starshak is like a trip through France: If you don’t like the (musical) scenery, wait a few minutes – it will change.
“Eclectic” describes San Diego-based Starshak’s sound. The five-piece band travels through funk, rock, blues, bluegrass, reggae, Latin jazz and techno rave grooves as easily as a train rides the tracks across France.
“We’re not limited at all to one style,” said rhythm guitarist Aaron Bleiweiss. “We all have a wide appreciation of music – ranging from funk, bluegrass, reggae, rock and jazz. That’s what we call our biggest gimmick. Our music appeals to a wide variety of people. Some people think of it as jam band music, but we like to think of it as eclectic.”
As if destined for a unique groove, Starshak originated on Ocean Beach during the total solar eclipse of June 10, 2002.
Though five musicians comprise Starshak, plenty of friends contribute to the band’s distinctive shows. Artists often join the band on tour. Chris Valdez, a free-flowing painter, often paints live at shows, though he won’t be at the show at The Goat tonight.
Another friend, Phillip Starshak, lent his name for the band’s cause – meanwhile, he’s studying for a “real” job as a physician.
Starshak strives for shows filled with variety and energy.
“We change it up to keep people as involved as possible,” said lead guitarist Tom Kish. “We push people’s mind a little bit, but at the same time, our songs are catchy.
“If you want to see what music in and of itself is capable of, you’re not going to get that with radio or force-fed pop music. If you want to get past the norm as far as the mass music, you’re going to have to go deeper and find the bands that will do that for you. What we bring to audiences is something they can latch onto and walk away saying “I hadn’t really thought of music like that before.’ We’re all pretty proficient, and we have a lot to say with our instruments.”
Each band member pushes the others by bringing in his musical influences and creative ideas.
“Everyone in the band is into music and educating each other about where the music comes from,” Kish said.
Keyboardist Adam Johnson acts as the main educator. Since he was 5, he studied classical piano, then expanded to jazz, Latin, funk and world rhythms.
Like Johnson, rhythm guitarist Aaron Bleiweiss’ parents introduced him to music at an early age. His father was a classical pianist, and Bleiweiss played the piano until age 15, when he switched to his instrument of choice – the guitar.
Kish comes from the opposite side of the tracks, so to speak. He grew up listening to classic rock and began playing guitar at 14 when Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album inspired him.
Another classic-rock head, drummer Caleb Phillips, started playing the saxophone when he was 7, but found a home with drums thanks to influences like John Bonham and Dennis Chambers.
Bassist Reilly Wareham’s well-studied in the world of jam bands. He began his love affair with the bass at 13, under the spell of such masters as Les Claypool, Jaco Pastorious, Bootsy Collins and Mike Gordon.
“We’re a culmination of a lot of good musical influences, and we run with it,” Kish said. “We’re a relatively young group – everyone is 25 or younger. The best thing is that every time you come to see us, it’s always going to get better. We always want to get better. We’re hungry because we’re young.”
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