//Feel Good Vibes

Feel Good Vibes

Fresno-based band, The Morning Drive, brings the funk, blues, and rock to get you dancing.

by Lisa Talley | lisa@fresnoflyer.com

A horn section. These guys have a horn section and a song with a saxophone/guitar battle as its solo – who does that anymore? The Morning Drive, that’s who.

It’s Saturday night, and Fulton 55 is buzzing with energy. I arrive somewhere around 9 o clock – right when the opener takes the stage – with my camera, and notebook in tow expecting to find a table to hunker down and jot down my thoughts during the Fresno-based group’s performance. Foolish. I come around the entrance – that little cattle-maze hallway the venue built to keep fans from overwhelming the ticket counter – and find the crowd backed up all the way to the bar.

At 9 o clock. For the opener. Forgive me, but Fresno is the city of last-minute people, in my experience, local shows typically won’t know the full turnout until at least 10:30. But I digress.

In an email sent to me from Singer, Daniel Silveira, he charmingly wrote how The Morning Drive’s music appealed to even his 90-year-old grandmother who cut a rug right at the front of the stage during their CD release party. It’s one thing to read about it, it’s another to see it in person. The approachability is undeniable, they have a universal sound, it was evident – there were hipsters and mature professionals, a few metal-heads, and dare I say, grandparents relaxing with a glass of wine at a back table. It was a broad spectrum audience with one thing in common; the music.

Funk. Blues-rock. Folk. It’s hard to imagine they left anyone out with their buffet-style display of writing prowess which included trombones, a violin, trumpet, and yes, the saxophone. And there was no mistaking the amount of fun they were all having – the energy, the enthusiasm was palpable. They performed like a cohesive unit all riding the same wave.

Guitarist, Alexander Stanley III, plays like a jazz musician – laying down complex lines effortlessly. Bassist, Brian Tritch, handles his bass as if he’s on the edge of some math metal breakout, but then grooves counter melodies like a true funk artist.

Their album, Another Song About [Your Name], does as great a job in capturing the live energy as a studio recording can. A standard studio session for a local band typically means one musician in a room at a time, a metronome ticking away the tempo over a pre-recorded track of the instruments recorded before them in a pair of headphones. The separation often changes the vibe and energy of the song. The Morning Drive opted for something different.

“We [chose] a live recording method for the major instruments; drums, electric guitars, bass guitar, and saxophone were all tracked simultaneously in one large, open sound-treated recording room at JSM Studios in Sanger. We then individually tracked the more sensitive instruments such as vocals, violin, cello, and mandolin,” shared Silveira about their recording process.

The real magic will always remain in the live performance for any band who cuts their teeth on the club circuit. And lucky for fans, they really can take a piece of that magic home with them in The Morning Drive’s album thanks to the option of recording the foundation of the songs together in one room. 

Another Song About [Your Name] opens with “This Is How I Fight,” which serves as a sort of introduction to the album with its long intro and spoken-word style open eventually finishing with a rock presence. However, if you were looking for a more straightforward and proper introduction to this band, the recommendation (in this order) would be “The Ones That Got Away,” “She Wants The Sax,” and “Bide Your Time.” 

“The Ones That Got Away,” has all the funk. It’s upbeat, fun, and Silveira tackles vocals with some of that 90s hip hop nostalgia. This song is the invitation that not only gets show-goers out on to the dance floor but to stay there.

“She Wants The Sax” – the walking bass line as the open is irresistible. It’s so much ‘70s soul jazz. There is undeniable skill, absolutely, but the attitude at which they approach this song is what steals the show. And c’mon, that sax solo battle with the guitar? *melt*

“Bide Your Time” is a personal favorite. There are a few other songs that could arguably take this slot, but it was chosen based on its languid blues approach. The beginning feels somewhat like The Black Crowes during the early 90s and then shifts into something like Los Lonely Boys – leaving behind the trappings of a standard A/B song structure.

The entire album, Another Song About [Your Name] is available to stream on the band’s website: www.TheMorningDriveBand.com along with more information about where to catch them live next. It’s a little bit of a wait, as their next big local show won’t be until October 20 at the Bitwise South Stadium in downtown Fresno. Keep up with all the latest by following them on Facebook and Instagram @TheMorningDriveBand.